Going, Going, Gone – Getting Started at Auctions

Auctions can be a great place to find interesting and unusual items of furniture, collectibles and jewellery and also to pick up a bargain at the same time. Be it in a traditional auction house or via one of the increasingly numerous online auction websites, there are gems to be found and don’t forget, cash to be made if you wish to sell. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and all that…If it’s larger items you need to furnish your house then rest assured that you can find more than antique or 1930’s ‘brown’ furniture. Many auction houses sell brand new, end of line, bankrupt stock from well-known high street retailers at a fraction of the cost in-store. You could pick up a new leather sofa for under £300 or an end-of-roll length of new carpet for next to nothing. All that’s needed is a bit of traipsing round on the day before the auction to view the current week’s stock.Of course antiques are found at most sales but if you are looking for a bargain then exercise caution, inspect the item you are interested in thoroughly before bidding and always set yourself a cash limit – and don’t exceed it! Remember that you will not be paying the hammer price for the item you win, but a buyer’s premium (typically around 10-15% on top of the hammer price) plus VAT. Also if you are buying an item which is too big for you to transport yourself, you will need to add a delivery charge on top – all this can mount up and must be taken into consideration when you are deciding your limit.Older furniture, while from a distance attractive, can have hidden flaws; woodworm, sticky drawers, missing beading or inlay, broken locks. These problems are all easily reparable if you have the necessary skills and time to sort them out but if not perhaps it would be a safer bet to pay a little more for an item in better condition.Online auctions are great for finding a cheaper price for a standard item or for selling your old records, CDs, kid’s clothing and other household items as you will be reaching a global audience of thousands – impossible in a traditional auction room. However if you are purchasing you will be relying on trust – you cannot inspect the item beforehand and have to rely on the reputation of the seller for dispatch and correct description of the goods. You may also find yourself competing with many other people for a desirable and rare item so that it’s price reaches a premium.Most of all, buying at auction is fun – and you can usually rest assured that you have an item which is unique or at least a bargain!