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What You Need to Disclose When Selling Antique Furniture

What You Need to Disclose When Selling Antique Furniture

Selling your antique furniture is vastly different from selling smaller antiques. The process of preparing a piece as well as what you need to know about it might seem obvious, but there are other not so obvious details. Such what you must disclose when selling antique furniture.

Your customer, or customers, should be able to trust you and the furniture you sell as being genuine and authentic. There are a few important things you must disclose to ensure everything goes smoothly. These ethics and principles should be kept in mind, and the following information should be disclosed whenever you sell antique furniture.

Fully Explain and Describe Why You Chose the Current Price

You do not need to be a professional appraiser but should be able to fully explain to a potential buyer and describe what is meant by the particular value or cost estimate you have developed for a particular piece. Know the history of the piece as much as possible, understand what makes the piece you are selling unique to the price point you are asking. Use as much accuracy as possible for the price you are offering.

If possible, you should document your work in research, as in the antique market different sources of research occasionally come to a different price conclusion as to the value of an antique piece. In most cases, there will be a generally accepted value commonly given to an antique and documenting this will also help avoid buyer miscommunication or misunderstanding as to why you came to the concluding price.

If you hire a professional appraiser to assist you in choosing the price or value of your antique furniture, a professional should be able to provide all the above mentioned to explain how and why they came to that conclusion, which you should then include for your interested buyer.

Include Copies of Pertinent Information

In the case of some antiques, there may be historical documentation that comes along with the furniture piece in question. It may be proof of sale, maker documents and so on. These not only assist in the legitimacy of your antique piece but may also help in the sale of your furniture. Any original documents should be included during the finalization of a sale.

Include, if needed, how the item will be packed, shipped, and your shipping cost upfront with your buyer.

Create Your Terms in Writing

Whichever means in which you sell your antique furniture items, create your terms for selling, approval, and returns in writing and disclose this to your buyer to sign. This protects both you and the buyer as well as any legal issues that word-of-mouth cannot negate.

Sales Tax

Depending on your state and where you are selling your item, such as using a third party to sell, you will need to include sales tax and collect it from customers. Payment to the state if selling with or without a third party is often left to you. You will need a sales tax number, available at no charge from the state in which you do business. It’s simply good practice to let your customers know if sales tax is calculated in the price.

Before Buying to Sell

Should you be interested in the purchasing of antiques for re-sell later, a word of caution about language. Keep aware of these terms before purchasing:

  • Antique – By law, this is an item that is at least 100 years old.
  • Collectible – This is a word that covers nearly everything and anything a person may collect. The age of a collectible is not important unless it is labeled as vintage. A vintage collectible should be an item that is at the very least 50 years old.
  • Reproduction – Created to look like the original, however, in the world of authentic antiques these items are generally not considered by law, to be old enough to warrant the label of antique. As reproductions can be made to historical accuracy, it can be difficult for a non-professional appraiser to tell the difference between a reproduction and the original.
  • Repro – Repro is not the same as a reproduction. Repro is a term some use to describe an item that has been purposefully created with the intent to deceive to attempt to sell at its genuine counterpart antique price. A repro is a fake.

Before Buying Online Ask:

  • If anyone has any experience with the seller you are engaging with. Check online and with the Better Business Bureau and various other sources to ensure you are dealing with a legitimate business or seller.
  • Request the seller to send up-close, crisp, clear photographs of the item you are buying.
  • Ask if the seller if the piece of antique furniture can be purchased and then shipped on an approval basis. This will allow you to inspect the item and have a local professional appraiser look at it. Some online sellers will allow this and refund you if you return it with conditions such as returning at a certain time and in the same condition you received it. Always get the terms in writing.

Be Prepared

Be prepared for your buyer or customer to ask questions about the item and know, to the best of your ability, how to answer them. Being informed about the antique furniture you are selling is key for building a trustworthy relationship and to be accurate. Some examples of questions you should know how to answer:

  1. How long have you been selling antiques/been an antique dealer?
  2. Do you belong to any professional organizations, appraisal associations, or organizations related to the specific type of antique furniture you are selling?
  3. Do you specialize in certain antique furniture?
  4. Do you carry and sell reproductions? Are they labeled clearly?
  5. How do you tell if the item is fake or authentic?
  6. What criteria are you using to identify this item?
  7. Will you guarantee the authenticity of the item in writing?
  8. What is your return policy?
  9. What is your shipping and packing cost?

The best information to disclose to your buyers or customers should be both ethical and as professional as possible, as any certified appraiser should and often does. Be prepared and be thorough in your research and knowledge as much as possible.

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