In the last few years, the on-line classified sites, have become a popular way to try and sell your items. Kijiji is probably the most popular site in this area, while Craig’s List is very strong in the Toronto market. The sites are free to use and you can post unlimited text and several pics.
The down side is you don’t know who you are letting into your home, and of course the scam artists are working those sorts of sites.
What I find particularly interesting is some of the prices some people are asking for antiques. I recently saw a very low end piece of 1950’s or 60’s furniture, that I would not even want in the auction, and if I did have it, I would be shocked if it even brought $10 or $20. The asking price? $420.00 !
It makes me wonder, is the seller even serious about selling this piece of junk? Why bother posting an ad, when no-one is ever going to pay that price? I recently saw an oak case wall telephone, in poor condition, and a very common model, and they were asking $1200.00. Average auction selling price would be $100-$150. So I wonder where they would come up with an asking price like that? I guess some people just pick a number and hope some sucker is willing to pay the price!
Bottom line is, people can ask whatever they want for something. However, if you are serious about selling your pieces, don’t be mislead by some of the asking prices you see on-line.
Ebay can be a good reference for selling prices, but you must check the completed listings to see what price the articles actually sold for. It doesn’t matter what people are asking, it only matters what people are paying.
Of course if you frequent the auctions, you get a good idea of what the average selling price is on most items. Retail prices may be double or even triple the auction price, but as a seller, you cannot expect a dealer to pay you retail. Dealers have their time and overhead to recoup, and they deserve a fair return.
Quite often people will quote me a price they see in a store or antique mall,, and of course it doesn’t matter how good the piece in the mall is, theirs is even better.
However, they may not realize that the piece they have seen, may have been sitting in that store or mall for a very long time with no takers.
I have been watching one piece in an antique mall for the last three or four years. It is a china base coal oil lamp, without the original shade, and we would usually sell them for $25-$50. This particular dealer is asking $425.00 Why? I have no idea! I have never ever seen that particular lamp sell for anywhere close to that price. Maybe $100 tops, and I have been doing this for almost 30 years now. It boggles my mind why they would even waste shelf space by pricing it at such a ridiculous price.
Another particular pet peeve of mine, is when someone calls about selling an item, and they will not tell you what they want. They usually tell me they have no idea what it is worth. So, far too often I make the appointment, spend the time and money to get there, and after I quote them a price, they start quoting me retail prices on every item! If you know what you want, just say so on the phone, and if it sounds reasonable, myself or some other dealer will make the effort to go see it. But don’t waste someone’s time and money, if you are going to ask retail price. You are going to have to work a little harder to find a retail buyer.
Recently I offered a person approx. $25 a piece for a certain item. She then indignantly told me she saw them selling for up to $85 a piece in the shops. I explained that was an asking price, and in all likelihood the dealer paid about what I was offering her anyway. She refused my offer, even though there was a dealer looking at them just before I got there, and he didn’t even make an offer on them. A day or two later, I was telling this story to a friend of mine, and he told me he bought similar items at an auction recently for only $17.50 a piece! I think the lady should have taken my offer.
Just in case you are wondering why I sometimes buy items, when I am an auctioneer, and for the most part make my living selling for other people on consignment? I do advertise in the yellow pages to buy antiques, because there are people who just don’t want to go the auction route with their items. I tell them what I think it will sell for at auction, and then make an offer to buy outright, if that is what they want. However, over 95% of what I sell, is consigned through the auction.
So to summarize, when you decide to sell, be realistic about the value of your items. Most auctioneers will give you an idea of what your items will bring at auction, and in my case, I have over 2000 photos posted on my website with the selling price at our auctions. It gives you a good idea of what prices certain items have been selling for in the last few years.
Remember also that even though the items may have sentimental value to you, as far as a dealer is concerned, it is just inventory, and they cannot put a price on sentimental value. That photo of your great grandfather in the nice oval convex glass frame? You might just want to hang on to that for now.
Some come out to the auctions, get a good sense of the current market, and if the prices seem fair to you…give me a call!