~ HOW DO I SELL THIS? ~
Many of you write us asking for more information about how to sell something you have. We appreciate your concerns about the pieces you own. We are always happy to hear from people interested in our expertise, and we read all the email we receive. Please excuse this automated reply to your request to learn how to sell what you have. We're glad you're curious enough to ask further questions and we hope this FAQ is helpful to you.
Yes, we do share our expertise; we have a limited amount of time available to assist others with evaluating pieces. We do, however, charge for our services; our expertise took us a lifetime to acquire, cost us a fortune and it's very rare. For information on our APPRAISAL SERVICES please click here .
FIRST: Determine what your item is worth. You can use our FAQ instructions to do this, available free by clicking here. Don't be surprised if you discover your item is worth far more, or far less, than you thought it was. The one constant we've found is that REAL VALUE is always a SURPRISE.
SECOND: Decide on how you want to sell your item.You have 3 choices, in order of highest profit to least profit:
1. You can try and sell your pieces yourself to unknown buyers (via eBay, yard sale, newspaper, similar etc).
2. You can consign your pieces with a dealer or auction house.
3. You can sell your pieces outright to a dealer.
So you can make the best decision for your circumstances, we explain below in detail the 3 choices you have for selling pieces. We explain the trade offs for each choice, including what percentage of the sale you can expect to get with each choice, and why that percentage varies.
First, please understand that one way or another, all dealers are in business to stay in business. Dealers have legitimate costs and expenses incurred in advertising and selling pieces. Dealers must make enough money on sales to cover the legitimate costs involved in selling, and make enough of a profit after expenses to be able to acquire more pieces to sell.
This means that when you sell something outright, the buyer must pay you less than what the piece is currently worth -- otherwise there's no reason for them to resell the piece and no reason to buy it from you.
If you have good marketing and sales skills, then you can try and act as your own dealer, and market and sell your pieces yourself, as many do on eBay and at yard sales. EBay is a new option, and while many people are comfortable using eBay to sell their pieces, and are pleased with the results, an equal number of people are neither comfortable nor happy with the results. If your marketing and sales skills are not competitive, or if you don't have the time or inclination to fine tune and hone these skills, then you will probably do better by hiring an expert who does. And this means consigning your pieces either with an auction house or with private dealers such as ourselves.
When you consign something with an auction house, there is often a wait of a year or more before they can offer the piece for sale in one of their catalog lots, and your piece may not sell the first time offered. Auctions houses are discriminating; they do not accept every piece offered to them. If they accept your piece for consignment, understand that there will be a wait before they actually offer it for sale. When (and if) it does sell, they will deduct their costs from any proceeds; they deduct fees to cover advertising and publicity, they deduct enough to make a profit, and they deduct enough to pay them for their expertise, including their mailing lists of likely buyers. For these reasons, auction house consigned pieces net their owners between 30% and 45% of the sale, charging between 55% and 70% of the final sale price.
Auction houses cover expenses primarily with fees and rarely buy pieces outright. Auction houses take a percentage of the sale from any proceeds going to the owners; this fee is called a "commission". They ALSO charge the buyers a percentage of the final sale price; this fee is called a 'buyer's premium". In addition, many auction houses charge entrance fees for the right to bid, and charge extra for their catalogs. If you look at any of the eBay Live Auctions, you will see this fee breakdown very clearly.
Auction houses have a higher overhead then private dealers. They have more bills to pay, for higher amounts, and must charge customers more for their efforts. Wherever you're located, most major cities will have local franchises associated with either Sotheby's or Christies, both of whom are international auction houses. These major houses accept consignments of individual pieces or small lots.
With the advent of eBay, private dealers can reach the same market as the large auction houses, and without the huge overhead. EBay is actually an auction "house" for all intents and purposes. Private dealers give individual sales far more attention than can any auction house, and because they have lower costs per sale, they can thus net more for both the customer and for themselves. Private dealers and auction houses reach the same potential market with eBay. For these reasons, private dealer consigned pieces usually net their owners between 45% and 55% of the sale, excluding any fees and charges such as shipping --- customers are charged between 45% and 50% of the sale after fees.
Hopefully, this explanation clarifies why you get more for your pieces by consigning them with private dealers such as ourselves, rather than selling them to a dealer outright, or consigningthem with a larger auction firm. It's odd, we know, but this really is how it works. Any outright offer has to be low enough that resale covers costs with minimal risks to the buyer, and auction house fees are enormous. If your selling skills are great, you might do best selling these yourself, but if not, you will get more with professional help that can devote specialized time and effort to you.
If you are do not need to sell your item immediately, the above reasons suggest that you will realize the most profit if you consign the piece with a professional private dealer, rather than have a dealer buy them outright from you for less than their current market value, or by consigning them with an auction house. The professional dealer will sell them for you, as consigned pieces, and after paying any fees incurred, will usually grant you between 45% and 55% of the proceeds from the sale.