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Selling Tips for Consigning at Auctions


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Everyone has something they can sell – a possession, a skill, some knowledge. Many of us who work for a living “sell” our skills and knowledge to our employers or clients. But what people often don’t realize is how much money they can make by selling personal possessions they no longer need. Auctions create the perfect marketplace for a wide variety of items. By following some selling tips for consigning at auctions, you’ll be well on your way to putting extra cash in your pocket.

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Selling Tips for Consigning at Auctions

  1. 1. SELLING TIPS FOR Consigning AT AUCTIONS a u c t i o nANDa p p r a i s e .com
  2. 2. Everyone has something they can sell – a possession, a skill, some knowledge. Many of us who work for a living “sell” our skills and knowledge to our employers or clients. But what people often don’t realize is how much money they can make by selling personal possessions they no longer need. An appraiser on the HGTV show “Cash in the Attic” says the average household has $1,000 to $2,000 tied up in unused items. That’s a tidy sum – especially when it’s earned on stuff you don’t use.
  4. 4. “Consignment” is a French word for “to hand over.” When you consign an item to somebody, you’re handing it over for them to sell on your behalf. In return, you pay them a commission on the sale. However, you always retain legal ownership on a consignment until it sells. Auctions create the perfect marketplace for a wide variety of items. They promote competition among bidders which can raise the selling price and put more money in your pocket. Auctions also generate excitement and energy – a wonderful atmosphere for selling your stuff.
  5. 5. Given their expertise in buying and selling, auction companies will know how much your item is worth, how long it might take to sell and which buyers would be most interested in buying it. The good auction companies are able to attract large crowds of qualified buyers to their auction events. In addition, time is often a factor when you sell your items. Depending on the item, few people want a long, drawn-out sales cycle. The typical auction is quick and easy with many items selling at a single event. And if you’re worried the bids will be too low on a consignment, auctions often allow you to set a reserve price. The reserve is the minimum sales price you’ll accept for your item. If no buyer bids above your reserve, you’re free to keep your item, try selling it through another auction event or use another sales method.
  7. 7. Although this list is lengthy, it’s by no means complete. Anything goes (almost!) in terms of what you can offer for sale at an auction. • Aircraft • Antiques • Art • ATVs • Automobiles & Trucks • Bicycles • Boats • Building Materials • Cameras • China & Glassware
  8. 8. • Coins & Currency • Collectibles • Commercial Buildings • Commercial Equipment • Commercial Vehicles • Computers • Construction Equipment • Electronics • Farm Equipment • Furniture • Guns • Heavy Equipment • Jewelry & Gems • Land
  9. 9. • Medical Equipment • Mobile Homes Motorcycles • Musical Instruments • Native American Art & Jewelry • Office Equipment • Office Furniture • Printing Equipment • Residential Real Estate • Restaurant Equipment • RVs • Sporting Goods • Stamps • Sterling Silver • Tools
  10. 10. WHAT WILL IT COST TO Sell Your Items AT AUCTION?
  11. 11. Selling on consignment means you’ll pay the auction company a commission if and when the item is sold. The commission covers the costs involved in selling your property, such as appraisals, preparing the item for auction, advertising, event management and more. The commission is a percentage of the final sale price. This amount can vary among auction companies. So, you’ll want to evaluate companies and compare the commission amount to the services provided. An important note about buyer’s premiums: Even though you’re the seller and won’t incur a buyer’s premium, you need to consider it. A buyer’s premium is a charge some auction companies add to the final selling price of an item. The winning bidder would pay a percentage of the final bid amount to the auction company. This percentage can be as high as 25% above the bid price.
  12. 12. Many auction companies believe the buyer should help defray auction costs, not the seller. Although this rationale might sound good to you as a seller, think about buyer behavior. If bidders knows they will pay a certain percentage above the sales price, they will simply lower the amount of their maximum bid to cover this cost. Lower bids mean lower profits for the seller. Therefore, look for an auction company that does not charge a buyer’s premium. As a seller, you want an auction to generate the highest bids for your property. If an auction service tacks on a lot of extra charges to pad their profits, for the buyer or seller, look for another company.
  14. 14. You can break the auction consignment process down into three very basic steps: 1. Find stuff to sell 2. Prepare items for sale 3. Work with an auction company to sell your stuff First, you need to inventory your items and separate the things you want to keep from those you don’t. If you’re looking to make some extra cash on household items you don’t use, you’ll need to have a methodical process for uncovering good candidates to sell.
  15. 15. Go room by room in your home so you cover everything. Look everywhere -- cupboards, closets, drawers, shelves. For every item, ask yourself some questions: How long have you had the item? How many times have you used it in the past year? Does it continue to serve a purpose? Will it serve a purpose in the future? Clear out a place in your home where you can collect the items you want to sell – an unused bedroom or a section of your garage will do. Then, as you make your way through your home collecting things you no longer want or need, move them to this spot. Don’t worry about their worth during this step. If you think a particular item may not sell, your auction company can advise you. Don’t assume anything at this point – you’d be surprised how some things with little perceived value generate interest and ultimately sell at an auction. And if something really has no value for an auction consignment, you can always donate it to charity or throw it away.
  16. 16. Second, prepare to take your items to the auction company. This step involves cleaning and/or repairing them. Gather all the records you have, such as receipts, manufacturer documents, etc. You should also look online to see selling prices for similar items. Write down all you can remember about the item’s history, if applicable. For example, an antique or collectible may have a unique past. You’ll want to convey the story if it will add value to the piece. In addition, make a note of all defects, including scratches, dents, dings, operating issues, missing parts, etc. Third, you need to find the right market for your items. Willing buyers exist for almost everything; you just need to know how to reach them.
  17. 17. Here’s where an auction company provides a valuable service. Because they handle every task associated with the consignment sale, earning extra cash becomes a pretty easy venture. The auction company will appraise your item and work with you on any reserve pricing strategies. They’ll prepare your item for auction so it’s seen by buyers in the best possible light. Preparation includes photographing, writing descriptions and cataloging.
  18. 18. They’ll promote your item and the auction event to attract the largest, most targeted, group of bidders. And they’ll handle all the administrative, billing and event management tasks. Auctions are a great sales channel for selling all kinds of items. If you work with an experienced auction company – one with expert marketing and management skills -- you can make a good return on your property with very little effort!
  20. 20. Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers, Inc. conducts all kinds of auctions on a regular basis. To find out more about our company, visit our website or contact us. Or, check our auction schedule for upcoming auctions.
  21. 21. About the AUTHOR DEB WEIDENHAMER PRESIDENT Deb Weidenhamer is President of Auctions Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers, Inc., based in Phoenix, Arizona. They specialize in auctions and professional appraisals. Visit us at or call 800-801-8880 for more information about an Antique Auction.