Highly valued items, like your 1955 classic Mercedes or original rococo table, may benefit from being auctioned rather than sold outright. A bidding war can produce ultimate profits, and that presents opportunities for a comfortable retirement or business expansion. Hiring a good auctioneer in Maryland is the first step to assuring you get the most out of your valuables. Here are six issues to inquire about before retaining an auctioneer:
- Credentials: Half of all U.S. states, including Maryland, require auctioneer licenses. You can request these credentials from your potential auctioneer, but always verify them with the state board—a license may have expired, or an unscrupulous dealer may offer a false license. This lack of caution may lead to losing your property and any profits it may have generated.
- Insurance and bonds: Freakish things occur even for no obvious reason. Your super-heavy 19th century wardrobe with the unique embellishment could fall over and injure an auctioneer’s employee. Without an insurance policy and bond, the auctioneer can hold you liable for this incident. The same is true if employees move your items and never get paid, or if the auction occurs on unsafe premises. Ask about insurance and bonds before surrendering your property, and like the credentials, check to see if they remain current in state records.
- Permits: If the auction will take place in your yard, ask about permits and who is responsible for obtaining them. You do not want to sell items for a good price only to end up owing a county fine. Many auctioneers take care of this before the auction, but confirm that before it begins.
- References: A list of references from customers who were satisfied with their sales speaks volumes. If the auctioneer received reviews through Google, Facebook or Yelp, read those, too. While you will find people who rate one star for the smallest offense, you will also find good feedback on these sites.
- Compete written contracts: You never want to surrender your property to an auctioneer without a written contract. Terms must include the amount of commission, extra fees and what happens to items that do not sell. Another practice by some auctioneers is to reduce the price on items in multi-day sales as they continue not to sell. That practice can reduce your cut. There is risk involved in auctions, including never receiving your property back or any proceeds if it does not sell. A written contract informs you of possible risks and assures mutual understanding. Sometimes, a policy in the contract may inspire you to keep evaluating auctioneers or find another way to liquidate property.
- Check delivery: If you are hoping an antique sale will produce a down payment to move into a retirement village, make sure you receive proceeds before the deadline. There are auctioneers who allow you to pick up the check the day the auction concludes, and others who mail them out en masse two weeks later. If you have definite plans for the money, ask about funds delivery so you know whether it will arrive on time.
If you require an auctioneer in Maryland for your valuable real estate or personal property, contact Jane Campbell-Chambliss & Associates, LLC.