How to sell art, antiques and collectibles for the best possible price
With my lifetime of experience handling, studying, researching, writing about, talking about (on TV & Radio) buying, selling and consulting on all things art and antique related, I can show you how, where and when is best to sell your items for the highest, fairest and most realistic possible price.
Below is all the information you need to make the right choices when it comes to selling art, antiques, prestige watches, jewellery, classic cars and just about everything else! Top tips on how to tap into the correct market to suit you, pitfalls to avoid (there are a lot of those) people to speak to, places to avoid and tricks of the trade all to make sure you get your best price possible.
This information is free and it will help you make the right decisions when it comes to selling art and antiques You can also employ me and my team to sell on your behalf. Please check out the ‘Selling‘ page for more information.
Online selling websites
90% of the items I broker through my business are sold through the tradition auction system, but depending on the object, its history and the clients personal situation, I will sell using an online selling website.
Certain items, especially well known and upmarket brands are more suited to online selling auction sites or ‘Buy It Now’ listings than tradition auctions.
Private buyers of prestige watches, like Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philipe etc along with high end accessories from the likes of Louis Vuitton or classic cars are for many good reasons happier buying direct from the owner or a specialist dealer than from a traditional auction. These buyers know there’s a chance they may be inheriting problems from an auction purchase where they have little or no come back. Therefore most buyers for these items in the tradition auction are trade buyers, who have the facilities to service, repair and restore watches (for example) before selling them…also broad enough shoulders to take the odd loss here and there when they buy a dud!
So, all of the above effects your chances of a successful sale in a traditional auction, so maybe selling yourself online is the way to go? Quite possibly, but go into it with your eyes wide open -there are scammers galore who will try to take advantage of an inexperienced online seller, so research current scamming trends, or even better if it’s your first sale online, speak to a family member or friend who has more experience and ask them to help you.
Top Tips: Avoid allowing people to visit your home, especially if the items are very valuable, meet potential buyers in public places and of course, never release goods until funds have been cleared in your account (not just showing as deposited in your account)
You will have to guarantee that what you’re selling is absolutely as described too…if it isn’t, the buyer will have recourse against you, so don’t over do the selling description, as this can come back and bite you! Describe the item fairly and honestly, so everyone knows where they stand, then you shouldn’t have any come backs…if you do have complaints, then deal with them sensibly. Compromise is the solution to all problems, so if the watch you’ve sold for example suddenly stops working a week after you’ve sold it, then offer to repair it, or at least make a contribution to the repair and come to a decent conclusion as fast as you can.
Selling online is going to take more effort on your behalf than just simply popping the item into an auction, but it could be worth the effort.
Take really good and clear photographs, describe the item well and accurately, as again, you’ll be responsible for this description and price it realistically to get immediate interest…if you want to sell, then make it tempting for a buyer to buy!
Take a look at eBay for example and you’ll soon work out which are good adverts and which are bad ones. Use as many of your photographs as you’re allowed to upload in the advert, making sure they’re varied and interesting. The description should be simple, to the point and factual, pointing out any flaws and make the advert friendly yet professional.
It never ceases to amaze me how aggressive some online adverts are ‘no time wasters or dreamers’ are popular taglines on many eBay listings and will do nothing but put people off. The first rule of selling… Be friendly and make people like you!
You’ve got to remember that when you are selling something yourself, you’re likely to have to deal with several, if not dozens of enquiries from people over a long period of time before you actually make a sale. These people are not ‘time wasters’ they’re just part of the selling process and if you don’t sell to them this time, you might do next time, so answer all enquiries quickly and don’t take offence or be put off when you get ridiculous offers, just politely decline them…anyway, I always think that any offer is better than no offer!
I was selling a lovely Rolex for a client recently for £4,500 online and I had several offers quite quickly, including 8 from a chap who started at £500 and eventually worked his way up all the way up to £1000!…it does make me wonder how these bidders have the time to do this, but in this case, it made me laugh every time he upped his bid! The Rolex sold for very near the asking price and I’m sure the phantom bidder simply moved onto another target!
Remember also that the genuine online buyer first and foremost is looking for trust…Price, is actually secondary…whats the point in buying the cheapest branded item listed online if it doesn’t really exist, is a fake, doesn’t work, or at best is badly misdescribed? The potential buyer needs to feel that they can trust your advert. In other words trust you and the item, so do everything you can to come across as that trustworthy person. Nice pictures, honest description, welcome enquiries and questions from buyers (and answer them quickly and politely) list your phone number and offering to allow the purchaser to have the item inspected by an independent expert of their choice is always a great selling tool and peace of mind for the purchaser too…always remember though, go with your item to this expert and always keep it in sight!
Although its obvious there is more work involved in selling online yourself, something else to consider are the financial numbers, which stack up well for you and for the buyer…let me give you an example and a comparison against selling in a traditional auction.
If an item is sold in auction for £1000, you will receive about £750 after auction selling fee’s have been deducted, but the buyer pays out about £1250 after their auction buying fees have been added…a difference of £500!
So, it would make sense then that you could feasibly advertise your item online for say £1150, which is a good saving to the buyer and much more for you, even after you’ve paid your advertising costs. Even if you pay someone to do it for you, you’ll still be ahead, but remember selling online really does only apply successfully to certain items, other items can do better in a traditional auction, even though the costs are higher, so lots of research on your behalf is required before you make that decision…there is a lot to think about, but it’ll be worth it.