PUBLISHED: 09:18 17 February 2014
Choosing a firm of auctioneers should be a relatively simple undertaking, but while from the outside we may all look the same, there are some key points that those considering sale by auction should be aware of.
Auctioneering, as a profession, is currently unregulated, therefore whatever it is you are considering selling, regardless of whether it be property or personal items such as jewellery, furniture and pictures, choosing a firm whose sale room is registered with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) ensures that the firm as a whole is properly regulated and will have a proper client account in place.
Commission is of course a consideration – there is a balance to be found between choosing a firm that will charge 10pc and one that will charge 25pc, all of course plus VAT. Whatever the commission rate, you should always ask whether the commission is “all inclusive” or whether any extra items are charged, such as a lotting fee, photography fee, insurance, catalogue fee, and internet fees.
Online presence, photography and advertising are, of course, extremely important. Not all auctioneers take a photograph of each and every lot, and not all use live bidding online (via such firms as www.the-saleroom.com for personal effects and www.i-bidder.com for property and machinery), and this can seriously affect the sale price achieved on the day of the auction. Local advertising of the sale as a whole is important to get buyers there, and national advertising for key lots in the Antiques Trade Gazette is crucial and should be offered by your chosen auction house.
Research is a key factor in determining an item’s guide price, and your chosen auctioneer and valuer should spend some time with you explaining how they arrived at their guide price and in the case of an item which could command a high value, comparables of similar items sold at auction should be provided. Reserves can, of course, be placed on your goods to protect them should they not achieve your minimum price on the day.
Finally, the time taken by auctioneers to pay out post sale can vary hugely from one week to six months – if this is a concern for you, particularly if you are an executor dealing with an estate for probate, it would be wise to ask the question before committing to sale.