Tips for Buying Furniture at Auction

Although Britain now seems to be well on the mend after the great recession of 2008 to 2012, thriftiness and ways to save appear to have become more popular as a result of going through those difficult times.buying at auction

TV programmes such as Kirsty Allsopp’s ‘Fill Your House for Free’, Jamie Oliver’s ‘Money Saving Meals’ and BBC One’s ‘Cash in the Attic’ are examples of how ideas about spending less and re-using what’s already around us are influencing culture and how people live.

This can be seen in how people are furnishing their homes and gardens; consumers are turning to buying second-hand in increasing numbers.

Bag a bargain Buying Furniture at an Auction House

One way of bagging a furniture bargain is to buy at an auction house.

Auction houses sell items for many reasons; company liquidation stock, councils getting rid of lost property or homeowners having a clear out.

Whatever the reason, buying at auction means you could get your hands on some unique and interesting furniture for next to nothing, possibly even furnishing a whole house for just £1,000.

Here are a number of tips if you’re considering turning up and bidding.

Before bidding:

  • Attend a few auctions first before bidding as it’ll help you familiarise yourself with what goes on and the processes involved.
  • Request a catalogue and note what you think you might like to bid for.
  • View ‘the lot’ (as it’s called) before bidding.
  • Ask auctioneers for advice. Many are hugely well-informed and happy to help.
  • Get your hands on the condition report if bidding by phone or by a commission bid with the auctioneer.
  • Check restoration costs, if needed.
  • Most definitely check electrical items work!

When bidding:

  • Try and only bid on items you think you know and understand the pricing for.
  • Don’t get carried away and stick to your maximum.
  • Make sure you familiarise yourself with bidding rules such as those involving reserve pricing, sales tax, buyer’s premium and payment for goods.
  • If you’re unsure about an items authenticity (or provenance, as it’s known in the trade), don’t bid.
  • Keep an ear out for changes to item descriptions given by the auctioneer.
  • Don’t just look for ‘old’. Modernist furniture does well these days too.
  • Jot down winning bid prices next to catalogue items and see if they tally with what you find online later.

Other tips:

  • Always get a receipt.
  • Take someone with you for a second opinion (and to keep you calm!).
  • Silver and gold are hard to fake due, some other items less so.

Double check your insurance cover

Whatever you buy at auction which then add to your furnishings, it’s a good idea to review how much cover you have on your home insurance for your possessions. This is particularly important if you’re buying antiques or other valuables at auction. You might have bought something very valuable, so make sure you get items valued properly.

Over the years people often find the value of the things they own has increased in value without them realising it and they can end up under-insured.

If in doubt, call your insurer or insurance broker to check your current claim limits and compare them with your most recent valuation of the items in your home.

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If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare insurance quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email

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