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Why Auctions Are Not Always The Best Way To Sell

When it comes time to selling collectibles, such as wooden puzzles, sometimes people think that going the auction route is the best and easiest way to sell an item. While it is no doubt a good channel, and if you find a specialist in the items you have you may very well end up seeing a nice sale price, auctions are not always the best avenue. Here are a few reasons why:

Auctions can charge a lot. I have seen the commission (the amount the auction house takes out of the sale price before they pay you) as high as close to 50% in the past. This is an enormous sum, in my view, for conducting the sale, especially since they are often also collecting a buyer’s premium from the buyer as well. 50% is by no means the norm, but when looking at auction houses, be sure to understand all of the possible fees they may charge (e.g. storage costs etc.)

Bidders may be wary. I rarely buy puzzles from auctions. The main reason is there is really no way to tell if the puzzle is complete. Incomplete puzzles are worth less than ones with all of their pieces. As a result I will bid lower than if I was conducting a private buy from a person with a collection. It gives me time to go through the puzzles, understand what I am buying and make an offer that is going to be higher than if I don’t have the complete info.

You don’t know what price you are going to get. With an auction you are at the mercy of the crowd that day. You can put a reserve on items, but you may not hit that price and then item doesn’t sell. With a direct sale, you know exactly what you are getting at the time of the transaction. These are just 3 quick observations that I made regarding why I prefer to buy directly from the source, and why it also may be to the collector’s advantage to sell that way as well.