Should I sell at auction or privately?

It isn't as difficult a dilemma as one might think: What is it you are looking to sell?

An auction is ideal if you want your item offered to a wider audience. Auctions are suited to items that have a subjective value or are of a comparatively low value

Private sales will benefit items with an objective value, or where a direct comparison with previous sales can be made.


Points to consider when considering selling via the auction process;


+  Items are marketed globally using online auction platforms like the-saleroom.com

(not all auction houses offer this global reach)

+  The price is not fixed and therefore can achieve any amount

+  Reserves can be agreed so the items do not sell for lower than expected


– Auction houses benefit from both seller and buyer, by charging both a commission, so the difference between what the buyer pays and what you receive can be up to 45% - 50%

– If an auction house misdescribes your items then they are likely to be undersold or unsold

– If the auction does not reach the right market coverage then your item may sell for considerably less than it should

– There can be many months gap between sending the item to auction and receiving payment following the sale



Points to consider when deciding to sell privately:


+  You agree on the price you are looking to achieve

+  You potentially can receive up to 35% - 50% more than if the items were sold at auction

+  The entire process normally takes on average 1/2 weeks from accepting an offer to receiving payment

+  Private and good trade buyers are funny and much prefer buying "fresh stock" items that have not done the auction rounds


– The sale price is agreed and fixed, at auction, the price can get chased up and "the rush of the auction" can grip buyers and drive up prices


The error made by many is that if selling via auction they will approach their "local" auction, because that is easy. However, every auction whether a specialist auction or not will have better results in some areas, but maybe not in others! 

For instance, there are preferred auctions for selling silver but would not do potentially as well with jewellery or paintings. Paintings might be best sold in a West Coast auction or one in Scotland? Knowing where and which auction houses might help you achieve a more favourable result, there are no guarantees, but we are familiar with most of the auction houses as this is what we do on a daily basis. Even more so now COVID 19 is having a huge effect on our business.


Independent advice

At The Art of Quality, we first assess what it is you are looking to sell, and based on our industry experience will advise you accordingly. Of course, the final decision is yours, and whatever route you opt for we will make sure your items are strategically offered to the very best marketplace always looking to get you the best return, whether that be by private sale or via auction. It is in both our best interest to achieve the best price we can.


We help you achieve the best price for your item by pinpointing an appropriate saleroom with the relevant expertise and the right target market. Alternatively, if we believe brokering a private sale with our network of national and international contacts might help you achieve a better price we will recommend this route.

Contact us today for independent, impartial advice on how best to sell your item.





Selling at Auction

  1. We provide a valuation of your items either based on images sent via email or following a home visit.

  2. We advise on which specialist saleroom is best suited to handle your items after researching the best potential outlets

  3. We arrange to consign the item/s from you and issue you with a receipt and a contract.

  4. We arrange delivery to the saleroom/s and can arrange a minimum sale price (a reserve) for you.

  5. Following a successful sale, you will receive a cheque for the proceeds directly from the auction house.


We charge 10% of the final selling price of the items for sale (This does not include actual auction costs which may vary) If the items do not sell there is an admin fee payable to cover our research/logistics/expertise.

PLEASE NOTE: Our fees are sometimes met by a number of the auction houses we are associated with, depending on where your items sell. If that is the case there will be no charge to you.



Private Sales (brokered sales)

  1. We provide a valuation of your items either based on images sent via email or following a home visit.

  2. We offer the item to our private and trade contacts and we will put forward the highest bid we receive to you for your approval. 

  3. We arrange to consign the item/s from you and issue you with a receipt and a contract. 

  4. We will deliver the item to the buyer and complete the transaction. 

  5. Payment is sent to you via BACS or cheque within seven days of the transaction.


We charge 25% of the total sale price for private sales, any delivery/packaging costs to be met by you and/or the buyer.