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Choosing Which Type of Auction to Sell At

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 24 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Auction Ebay Christie’s Sotheby’s Wine

These days anyone wanting to sell an item, or a load of items at auction is faced with a multiplicity of choices, and they can all seem good. But what you need to know is which auction will be the best for what you’re selling.

There’s no automatic right or wrong as to which auction to use, but there are general ideas that can help you find what’s likely to work best – and, hopefully, bring you the maximum return for your item.

Of course, you also want something that’s sensible to use, wherever possible, and that can be a factor. If you’re selling, say, a big carved armoire, then obviously selling on eBay and shipping it is out of the question, so your choices are narrowed, and be glad they are.

Online Auctions

Think online auctions, and most people think of eBay; they’re certainly the dominant force. But they’re not the only player in the market. However, to reach the widest audience, you’ll probably want to use them.What goes well on eBay? That’s hard to categorise, but, in general terms, items should be easy to ship, since that’s usually how buyers receive them (there are exceptions, such as cars), and often in a lower price range (again, this rule can have exceptions).

eBay is excellent for more common goods, and lower-end collectibles. If it’s something relatively desirable (old Subbuteo, for instance) the prices can go higher than you might imagine. In eBay the people interested in what you have for sale will find you.

It’s a marketplace where your return comes quickly – from the time you list an item to the end of the auction is really never more than 10 days – which can be a big advantage to many people seeking fairly instant gratification, or simply wanting to quickly clear space of unwanted items.

Local Sales

Most areas of the country have auction houses which hold regular sales. The lots can cover anything from antiques to farm implements to random household items. That can be a problem for you when you’re putting in specific items. You’ll get a curious crowd, including antique dealers, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be interested in what you have for sale, so it could end up not selling – especially if you have a reserve on it – or going for a fraction of its real value.

If you have general household items to sell, this can be a good forum, especially if they’re of some vintage (rather than antique). For anything more specialised, these types of auctions aren’t recommended.

Specialist Auctions

If you have that special bottle of wine, a painting you think might be worth a lot of money, or even a car to sell, then specialist auctions will probably serve you well. You’ll find a knowledgeable crowd that’s willing to spend money for the right items.

However, it has to be something of real value to warrant this. The mediocre is unlikely to sell (other than at car auctions). But the exceptional can bring very high prices at these auctions, making them well worth your while.

Major Auction Houses

The big auction houses – famous names like Christie’s and Sotheby’s – are ideal if you have a very rare, high-ticket item to sell. They attract the big spenders, and their auction catalogues let people know exactly what’s on offer in an auction.

The downside is that it needs to be a remarkable item for a big auction house sale, and that means something that’s likely to fetch several thousand pounds, if not a great deal more. Those are rare, and the odds are you’re never likely to have anything like that.

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