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Buying and selling art and antiques at auction

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Art and antiques auctions have been a successful method of buying and selling fine art for centuries and a barometer of the market at local, national and international level.

You may be surprised to learn that there is no legal requirement for qualification to use the terms ‘auctioneer’ or ‘valuer’.

So if you are selling art and antiques at auction, you may want to use an auctioneer who is an RICS member. If you are looking to buy art and antiques at auction, a chartered arts and antiques surveyor can advise on whether the investment you will make will be a sound one.

Buying at auction

When buying at auction, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to examine thoroughly your chosen lot. If unfamiliar with antiques or fine art, make sure that you buy a catalogue, read the description and estimate and then ask questions. Auctioneers and valuers are more than happy to share their expertise and knowledge with you.

Read the description of the lot carefully and if there is anything you do not understand do not be afraid to ask (e.g. the term ‘style’ may be used to indicate that the piece was made later than it would appear). This will help you to build a rapport with the auctioneer and make your decisions. It is important to find out as much as possible about the lot you are interested in, check for damage and restoration and decide upon your maximum bid

Selling at auction

An auctioneer is your appointed agent when selling at auction and your representative to the buyer. When selling, first seek advice from an RICS chartered arts and antiques surveyor.

They will offer impartial, confidential, professional advice based on their knowledge and expertise. The surveyor will usually provide free pre-sale estimates. Many auction rooms hold valuation days, so contact them to enquire if there is one in your area.

Most auctioneers now put their catalogues online and many offer live, online bidding. They are selling to a worldwide audience and aim to achieve the maximum open market value for your possessions.

For more information, download the RICS buying and selling art and antiques at auction consumer guide.

To find your nearest chartered arts and antiques surveyor, check ricsfirms.com/ – using the ‘Quick Search’, select arts and antiques under firm type.