My antique Victorian pricing research over the years has been a mishmash of looking at pricing on Ebay auctions for sale (current and closed) and Googling keywords appropriate to the piece I’m looking to sell. I might go to Ruby Lane or TIAS or Trocadero or GoAntiques and do searches there, but it is more of a hassle to do so across multiple sites. A quick Google will generally, but not thoroughly, list items inventoried at those sites.
Using Ebay has always been a decent source for pricing antiques since it reflects recent market demand and prices for items with a 10-day or less sale window. Many of the sources above reflect prices at retail levels and reflect inventory that may sit for months waiting for that special buyer. Usually I don’t have any desire to sell something 7 months from now, so I sell on Ebay or off of Rare Victorian. Of course I will generally expect to receive less on Ebay than if I sold from a retail venue, but that is the price I pay for convenience and time. However, I will recount one of a few experiences I have had where Ebay far exceeded expectations later in this post.
Here’s my take at a formula for the components of maximizing antique pricing, not in order of importance:
Price = quality + condition + rarity + time + marketplace + presentation + demand + luck
All too often people are looking to sell their furniture using retail prices as their yardstick and want to sell it on Ebay in a 5-day auction. If you’re selling on Ebay – get your pricing from Ebay since that is your marketplace.
There are cases where selling on Ebay exceeds expectations but it depends on the components of my formula above. A recent item I sold was an Art Deco lamp which I paid $320 for (on Ebay, no less) with the assumption that I would resell it, hopefully at a higher price. I sold the lamp for $1,225 and I attribute that success to a few factors from my formula outweighing others, but having relative strength in all categories:
- Condition, Quality, and Rarity – I had all of these in my favor – the shade was original and rare.
- Time, and Marketplace – I believe I had it listed for 7 days on Ebay – not a place I expect to quadruple my investment, especially when I had a healthy cost to overcome. However, expanding my audience to include overseas customers was the explosive part of the equation. Two bidders, one from Saudi Arabia battled on the price.
- Presentation - I spent extra time detailing every little glass flower on the shade and the photos were bright and crisp. All too often photography is lacking on Ebay.
- Demand - I wouldn’t say I had this in my favor, but two parties that really wanted it made it happen.
- Luck - Probably played a part. Had I listed it at another time, I could have only broken even.
Had I fixed-priced the listing, I would have limited the potential upside that I experienced, so I listed it with a reserve above what I paid and started the price at $100. I had done pricing and listing research on Terapeak prior to listing the item to see what day to start, how long to run it, and at what price. I searched pricing back 90 days which is beyond the range that research directly on Ebay provides (a 30-day data window is always free from both sources).
I noticed some trends in the title keywords on the best performing Deco Lamp sales and I applied those observations to my listing. I really feel that the research I did on Terapeak helped me put together a perfect storm to sell at the best price. In my next post, I’ll try to give an overview of how to use the tool and the features that I focus on most. I’m also testing out ArtFact and will let you know my observations on that in the future as well.
Let me know your thoughts on the topic of pricing research.