downsizing storage furniture

Downsizing? 12 Top tips when selling furniture at auction

Thinking of downsizing and need to declutter?

When you make the decision to downsize a lot of people are tempted to store their furniture in the belief that either the downsize will be temporary or that family members may well want those sofas, beds and tables in the future. However, with the average cost of storing one room full of your possessions costing in excess of £1500 each year, you may decide to liquidate your assets and realise their cash potential instead.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is by auction house.

Though you are not always guaranteed the best price this way, if you are looking to sell furniture in bulk and want to do so with the least amount of hassle, then local auctions are definitely a good choice.

downsizing storage furniture

Need to get rid of some furniture before downsizing? Storage can be expensive. Image credit Darren Moloney via Flickr.

Decide what may be best sold via a specialist auction or buyer

Whilst not all of us may be fortunate enough to have a Renoir in our personal collection you may well be looking to sell an item which would realise more if it were sold in a specialist sale. Antique furniture or unusual items may not reach the best price if you were to put them in a general sale.

Clear, clean and cleanse

Before you invite an auctioneer to view your sale goods, it’s a good idea to clear and clean the furniture you are looking to offload. If there are any repairs due then now is the best time to do it so you can maximise your profits on sale day; however, there is no need to have that coffee table French polished if you are going for a general sale. Be reasonable with how much time, effort and money you spend doing this but just consider how appealing your items are in their current state.

“Dibs”… Offering first refusal to family and friends

Before you commit anything to an auction house it’s always a good idea to ask family (and friends) if they would like anything. Make it clear if you would like money in return before they know what’s on offer.  You just might find that one of the items you intend selling has been coveted by a family friend for years. Though you might get more at auction (or not), the idea that a treasured piece might go to a familiar face is a nice idea for some.

A word of caution. If you are unsure of the value of an item ,then do a little research beforehand; if you are downsizing for financial reasons then you will want to maximise your returns.

Contact a local auction house

There are several auction houses in the Thames Valley area and most will be only too happy to send a representative to your home to view the pieces you want to sell. Some only deal in fine furniture and antiques whilst others run regular general sales. Make sure you check before arranging an appointment to save wasting their (and your) time. Most auction houses prefer it if you have a list already written down with some particulars as well as digital photographs. This can help with a valuation and save time.

Find out the commission rates charged by the auction houses

Auction houses make their money by charging a commission on the sale price of the goods that sell; usually this is charged to both the buyers and the sellers and can be anywhere from 10-20%. Many auction houses will also charge a fee per lot for their cataloguing; this is usually around £5. Check whether the fees include or exclude VAT so there are no surprises on your final bill.

To save cataloguing fees, consider mixed lots

As each lot usually has a cataloguing fee, if you are selling a lot of items then you may want to consider putting similar items into a mixed lot.

Find out how much transport fees are

Auction houses are well used to transporting sale items to and from their premises and usually offer a good price to get your furniture to the sale room. However, make sure that the price is agreed up front and that you have a plan in place for the retrieval of any unsold items after the sale day.

Set reserves at a sensible level for items of a particular value

The auction house will provide you with an estimate for the value of the goods you wish to sell but the nature of auctions is that the guide price could well not be reached just as easily as you could achieve double the estimate. Whilst this can be the most exciting part of an auction, it doesn’t feel too good to be on the wrong side when a treasured dining set is sold for a pittance. Select those pieces that you would hate to see go for less than the lower end of their estimate and set a reserve with the auction house. Bear in mind that the auctioneer can ignore the reserve at his discretion and there is usually a fee when setting a reserve.

downsizing selling furniture auction

Deciding to sell your furniture via an auction house can make downsizing simpler. Image credit Elvert Barnes via Flickr.

Electrical items

If you are selling anything electrical such as lamps, stereo equipment etc. then you should be aware that most auction houses will charge a standard fee to have the item tested. This is usually around £5 per item.

Dig out the paperwork

If you are selling any item for which you have any provenance, then it is a good idea to dig this out. Items with receipts, warranties or historical provenance can fetch more than if catalogued without.

Check you are insured

Once your items are collected they will generally no longer be covered by your own home contents insurance so make sure that your furniture is covered in transit and whilst on the premises at the auction house. Things like fire and theft would be rare indeed but accidental damage during removal or on viewing days can (and does) happen.

auction house downsizing insurance

Make sure your property is insured once it’s left your premises. Image credit Sunset Removals via Flickr.

Enjoy the show

If it isn’t going to be painful to watch then make sure you go along on the day to watch the auction. If you’ve never been to one before then it can be an electric experience; just don’t get carried away and come home with more things than you’ve gotten rid of…you are downsizing, remember.

When you’ve made the decision to downsize your home, whether you are looking for an agent with integrity to sell your home or one with excellent local knowledge to help you find your next property you can trust Property Assistant to be with you at every step of the way. Contact us on 0118 912 2370 to see how we can make downsizing as easy as possible.