Now, if you’ve been following this blog or my Instagram account for longer than 5 minutes, you’ll know that I love a bargain. One of my favourite ways to save money, renovate my home and help stop things ending up in landfill is to visit furniture auctions. They’re full of vintage items, some more amazing than others it has to be said, but there are bargains to be had. My big beautiful Narnia-esque wardrobe? £45. My vintage towel cabinet? £15. It’s AMAZING.
However, if you’re thinking of buying at an auction, you need to be prepared. Here are my tips on how to make the most of auctions.
1. Find out when they’re being held. Sounds like a no brainer, but some auction houses have regular sales while some are on an ad hoc basis when they have enough stock to make it worthwhile. If there’s a mailing list or Instagram page, get on it.
2. Go to the viewing. This is your chance to see whether there’s anything worth bidding on, check out the condition and measure the items. I dragged Mr R along to the last viewing day and he begrudgingly accepted that we needed a wardrobe and the one in the sale was really nice. Unfortunately I forgot to measure it…
3. Measure the items! This is important as you’ll need to know if it’ll fit in your house. If you’re organising transport they’ll also need to know the sizes. I had great trouble articulating the size of our wardrobe to the courier, who then struggled to get it up the stairs and into our bedroom. In the end I had to ask some local builders to give them a hand and they got it in. Just. If I had measured I would have known the size and possibly foreseen this. I’d still have bought it though!!
4. Organise transport. When the auction is over you’ve got a pretty short time frame to get the items out of the sale room. If you’ve bought furniture you’ll need to be able to get it home. I used a man and van service I found via Shiply, but you could hire a van yourself.
5. Don’t forget the buyers’ premium. This is a surcharge added on to every item, usually around 15% of the sale price. I imagine it goes towards some of the auction costs but can come as a bit of a shock. Be sure to factor this in to your maximum bid.
6. Set yourself a limit. Decide how much you’re willing to pay for something and stick to it! The auction moves quickly, and if you get caught up in the action you may find that you’ve paid way too much for something.
7. Take a notebook and pen. Make a note of the lot numbers you’re interested in. I went round the room, jotting down the numbers and a quick description of the item so I didn’t forget.And don’t forget to enjoy it, and your new purchases!
Furniture auctions are a great way to add character to your home without spending a fortune.