When it comes to negotiating antiques, some people are too shy to ask for a price change, while others consider haggling an art form. Whether you are just learning or have years of experience under your belt, there are a few basic points to keep in mind. When negotiating a better price on antiques and collectibles, always remember:
You will rarely get a discount if you don’t ask.
Be polite and reasonable when making an offer, or you risk insulting the seller and leaving empty-handed.
Point out faults if you must, but never insult a seller’s goods as a negotiating tactic – it will probably backfire.
Don’t let crotchety dealers rattle your cage. If they won’t negotiate, be prepared to move on and deal with someone else who will.
When you recognise a real sleeper, generate good karma for yourself and pay the seller’s asking price. You will both walk away satisfied with the deal.
Next, take a look at the negotiation strategies at a number of sales venues commonly frequented by antique collectors.
It is quite common at garage, yard and tag sales to bid on merchandise. If an item is marked $30, offer $20 and see what the seller thinks. Don’t be surprised, however, if he counters with $25.
Keep in mind, however, that making a low-ball offer just as the sale is starting won’t get you any points with a seller. If you find something you really want early in the day, be prepared to pay full price or accept a nominal discount.
To get the best deals at yard sales, come back late in the day. If the price of a piece was very high at the beginning, the seller’s price may drop considerably as the sale goes on.
These days, most estate sales are handled by professional liquidation companies, and prices on the first day of the sale are usually non-negotiable. However, prices are usually reduced on the second or third day, depending on the length of the sale, and usually in increments of 25 per cent.
If discount policies are not clearly posted, feel free to ask one of the estate agents when prices will be reduced. If merchandise seems to be flying off the shelves on the first day, don’t count on the room you have your eye on to be waiting for you once the discounts take effect later.
Sometimes you will come across an estate sale run by a family. Although merchandise may be offered throughout the house, these sales are more like garage sales in terms of price and discounts. You will usually have more leeway here, even on the first day of the sale.