Tips For Selling Antique Furniture


Tips For Selling Antique Furniture

Antique furniture is quite popular these days, and many people are making some good money with it. Besides the fact that it is a profitable business, it is also fun and educational. But, where are the best places to sell antique furniture, which items sell fast and which don’t? How do you value a piece of antique furniture?

Whatever your motivation is for wanting to sell antique furniture: cleaning up the attic, a heritage, as a hobby or as full time business, this guide provides you all the necessary tips and techniques to sell fast and successfully!

Without having to own a retail store or selling antiques of 100+ years old, you can make large and fast profits. In fact with an initial investment of 50$ (or in some cases even less) you can head for a local auction and come back with enough salable merchandise to repay your initial investment several times over. That to say that you can easily make a 200-300% profit in a very short amount of time.

What antique furniture sells best?
Not all antique furniture sells easily, and although there are periodical trends in the antique business, there are some general rules which will ensure you a fast and profitable turn over:

1. A main rule for selling antique furniture successfully is that the furniture should be practical, comfortable, useable, and of the proper height.

2. Simple furniture designs, are much more in demand, they are in general more valuable and match most interiors. Heavily carved pieces are much more difficult to handle and sell.

3. Don’t focus on selling ancient and the rarest antique furniture, because they are often less valuable then for example 18th century French or English furniture.

4. Antique beds are the most difficult pieces of furniture to sell. Finding a mattress that fits these non-standard sizes is difficult and most often a custom made mattress is the only solution.

5. Miniature and small antique furniture sell much easier then large pieces. Transportation and storage of large pieces can also cause problems and extra costs. Buffets, bookcases and armoires taller than 8 feet (ceiling height) drop dramatically in value.

6. Retro furniture from the 1950’s is now becoming valuable.

7. The highest prices are paid for antique furniture that posses a rich patina color, and have the right proportions. The quality of the piece is much more important then the rarity.

Where to sell?
The most popular and profitable ways to sell antique furniture are:

Local auction house
Fairs, flee markets, swap meetings
Garage sales
Antique dealer

How to price and estimate your antique furniture value?

Valuing antique furniture is not an exact science, even a professional appraiser will set a price “range”. Meaning he will set a margin with the top and bottom price. That margin indicates the wholesale price a dealer would pay (lowest value) and the retail price (highest value) for selling to the actual collector. Of course this is still an estimation, and it is impossible to predict the outcome of an auction for example. All depends on how much it is worth to the interested buyer or collector, and that is largely influenced by his personal preference and affection for the piece.

However, you have to set a price, so how can you do that, without advising a professional appraiser?

• Research books about valuing antiques, go to a library or a large bookstore. You’ll be surprised how many books there exist on this topic.

• Look for similar furniture on eBay, and mark the items for follow up in your favorites. That way when the auctions ends you can see what price eventually has been paid! Do this with a few similar pieces and you will soon have a general idea of what people are willing to pay for a particular style. If you don’t have an eBay account already, just set it up for free, it only takes a minute, and is a great trick to value antique furniture.

• Visit antique shops and browse to their stock. It is a great exercise to build a general idea of prices that are asked in your area for antique furniture. If you are lucky a similar piece to what you are selling is on display and you can adapt your price accordingly.

• In the event that you cannot find any information on the piece, ultimately before advising an appraiser, you could also ask a local antique dealer what he would pay for your item. Keep in mind he will offer you the wholesale value, so price it 50% higher. However, this is not the most reliable method and you will experience many different outcomes with different antique dealers!

Five points of advice when selling antique furniture

1. Don’t expect to get rich quick.
Without the basic interest for antiques and the desire to learn more about them, it will be highly unlikely to be a profitable business. Be passionate about the subject without blind focusing on the financial aspect. When you love what you do, profits will come automatically.

2. Don’t invest money if you can’t afford to lose it.
Don’t finance your start into the furniture business with money that suppose to be used for paying the monthly bills. That old dresser you want to buy may take longer to resell than you thought it would.

3. Re-invest.
Set apart the money you made with your first successes, that way you can build up some reserves to aim for a little bigger investment (not per definition more exclusive but in means of quantity)

4. Be honest with yourself and your customers.
For your own peace of mind and reputation, you should never be dishonest about the origin of your merchandise. That doesn’t mean you have to share all your resources, but at the same time try to offer some genuine information about the item you are going to sell (style, origin, era, etc.). When you are trustworthy, creating regular clients will be a breeze. In some cases they will even contact you, to see if you have recently bumped into some “treasures” they could buy. Generate word of mouth, it is the best publicity you can have!

5. Knowledge sells.
Know what you sell. People love to have a story attached to their antiques, that way they have something to talk about when they have family and friends asking about it!



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