A Few Facts About Selling Art, Antiques and Collectibles
Many people own or have inherited things that they don’t want or need, but they don’t know what the items are worth, so they don’t know how they should go about selling them and what they should expect to receive for them. There are a range of places to sell items from auction houses to yard sales, consignment shops, to on-line sites. However, the fear that people have is that they will sell something cheaply that was actually much more valuable.
Many people have items in their home with values they are unsure of, or they are responsible for dealing with the contents of a relative’s home after that person dies. One way to get an idea if any of any items are valuable is to hire an appraiser to act as a consultant. Many appraisers will do a walk-through at a client’s home, and for a consulting fee will advise people about which things might be valuable, do research to learn more about the items or their values, and offer suggestions as to the best place to sell the items. This service is not the same as an appraisal of the items.
People who are ready to sell antiques, collectibles or artwork have a number of options including:
• High end regional and national auction houses. This is for very valuable collectible items, antiques, or artwork. The auction house will charge a percentage of the sale price plus the costs associated with the auction and auction catalogue (i.e. insurance, photography).
• Antiques dealers. Antiques dealers will either buy the property from you outright and then resell it, or they will sell it for you in their shop and take a percentage of the sale price. When selling to an antiques dealer, it is a good idea to have an appraisal of the item, or have a good idea of its value so you ensure that you are being properly compensated. Be sure to get a consignment agreement that protects your ownership and sets up the date by which you must be paid after the sale.
• Local auctions. Local auction houses will include your item in scheduled auctions that include items of similar type which are grouped together for sale. These items are often offered in a catalogue often posted on-line. The auction house will charge a percentage of the fetched sale value price. Be sure and check to see if they may have other fees as well.
• Local weekly auctions. Local auction houses also hold regular catch-all auctions that sell a variety of items which are normally less valuable than items included in the catalogue and on-line auctions.
• Consignment shop. Consignment shops will sell your items, but usually for a relatively high percentage of the sale price and if things don’t sell quickly they normally lower the price of the item to help it sell. Again, be sure to get a consignment agreement that protects your ownership and sets up the date by which you must be paid after the sale.
Other options for selling items are include on-line sites like eBay and Craig’s List, and at yard sales and at flea market stands. These methods may include lower fees and overhead, but you are doing most of the work yourself.
If consumers feel they have items that might be valuable, they should consult an appraiser. When hiring an appraiser, hire only accredited appraisers from an established national organization like the American Society of Appraisers. Those appraisers abide by a code of ethics and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The independence, expertise and experience of the appraiser are critical to establishing a credible value in an appraisal.
Keep the appraisal report with your other legal and estate planning documents. Appraisal reports are recognized by courts as reliable testimony to the value of your possessions. They combine in one place the documentation, identification (including photographs) and a value for your property.
To find an appraiser or to learn more about appraisals, see ASA's consumer page.