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An expert guide of top tips about buying furniture in auctions, from the UK's leading online auction house.
3 Mins

Buying furniture at auction

Vikki Wilkinson
Vikki Wilkinson

As we’re well into our third lockdown if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wanting projects to get stuck into to while away your time at home. Personally, I’m on a mission to re-jig my living room with some beautiful old pieces / furniture with lots of character.

Honestly, buying furniture at auction (or anything really, but furniture is a favourite) is a great experience and all I can say is, get yourself on the bandwagon and give it a whirl – you definitely won’t regret it.

If you’re new to this, I’m going to give you some useful tips that should help you feel a bit more prepared…as at first, it can feel a tad daunting. And for anyone reading this who’s already well accustomed to auctions, bids, bargains and hammers – I salute you! Comments and tips always welcome!

Before the auction

So, you’ve got your eye on a particular upcoming auction and you’re armed with some cash that you’ve determinedly saved to update your living room. First things first, plan. Creating a mood board for your room is always fun and a good idea. Planning seems simple but believe me, you can get carried away so easily and before you know it, you’ll have got side-tracked bidding for a hand-carved oriental Buddha your Mum might like for Christmas. Don’t get distracted! Online catalogues are available to view before the auction goes live – my tip: use them, it’s essential to thoroughly research what you want. Go through the detailed descriptions, ask questions if you need to, just do whatever you need to do to prepare yourself before you enter the bidding process. Things move quickly so you need to be on the ball and act promptly so as not to miss out.

Next, research. Nobody wants to be that person who pays over the odds for something just because it looks pretty (although pretty things do make us happy). Once you’ve decided what you’re bidding for and have made a list of the items of furniture you’re interested in, spend some time having a look at the going price for similar items online and note down what they cost. A simple exercise like this can save you lots of money in the long run. Setting a limit is essential if you have delved into the item beforehand ensuring you’ll never knowingly pay more than you want to based on what you’ve already researched. You can also request a condition report from which I’d highly recommend – it’s a very useful document if available as it gives a bit of history on the item and lists any visible flaws or repairs needed. The last thing you want is additional costs after purchase that you hadn’t factored in.

Last but not least, enjoy it! Buying at auction is great fun and it’s a wicked adrenaline rush and enormously satisfactory. You’ll learn loads very quicky and will no doubt be discussing it with friends after your first bargain auction purchase!

If you want, you can leave a comment below and let me know how you get on, I’ll be thrilled to know what treasures you’ve found!

Check out our latest auctions and happy shopping!