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Should you sell your records at auction or to a record dealer?

If you have a record collection you wish to sell, you may be exploring the ways that you can sell it. Having decided that ebay was too much hard work, you may be left with either selling to a record dealer or taking a chance at an auction. So, which will it be? I will take a look at both scenarios. I’m aware I’m a dealer, so you may think the conclusion is a biased one. However, I hope my side of the argument will draw you down the same road as me.


How to sell your records or vinyl at an auction


Firstly, you will need to identify a suitable auction house. You may be lucky enough to have one local to you, or it may be a bit of a drive away. Most auction houses are for general sales, and it is likely to be this type that is closest to you. There are a couple of specialist music auction houses but these are few and far between. Some auctioneers will come and collect the items from you. However, if it is only records you have, they are unlikely to make the journey. They mainly travel for a whole house clearance, rather than a pile of vinyl. But worth checking with them.


They may accept or reject the collection. If there are some records they don’t like, they may ask you to take them back with you or may refuse the lot altogether. As a record dealer, I am happy to take the complete collection with me, even if some of it is unsellable. Provided there is something of interest there, I will take it all with me and you will not have to worry about getting rid of the poorer vinyl. I will also visit you, so you won’t have to worry about heaving boxes of vinyl around.


The next step is to agree the price. Auctions work with an estimate. Let’s say a collection of records might be worth £400. They would probably suggest an ‘estimate’ of £30-£40. This is to entice buyers in and get the market in action. However, your estimate is also the price that they can sell at. If it’s a quiet day at the auction house, someone can pick up the collection very cheaply.


It is possible to put a reserve price, but these tend to be discouraged for items that are not expected to fetch a fortune. If you have a Van Gogh painting, you might want to protect your millions and put a reserve on for what you paid for it. But at the lower end of the market, you will be encouraged to let the market decide.


It is this uncertainty that makes me encourage you to try a record dealer first. By placing your items in an auction, you are playing a lottery of whether two people who both want the item are prepared to bid it up to its value. Whereas with a dealer, there’s no such thing as a quiet day, I will always offer a fair amount and you can choose to accept or decline. Once it’s in the auction, that choice is taken away from you.


On the day, two people turn up for the auction and they bid up your records to £400. You may think you are quids in, however, remember the auction house haven’t taken their commission or the VAT off yet. Houses will generally take 20-30% of the hammer price and then pay VAT on the commission. So your £400 suddenly turns into £320 on a 20% commission basis, and then falls £304 with the VAT on the commission removed. Not such a great day at the office now.


When you deal with a record dealer, you’ll get the cash or electronic payment there and then, and the money we agree is the money you will receive, no quibbles. In addition, you will not receive the payment there and the. You will need to wait for the auctioneer to receive the money from the buyer and wait for that to clear. Some auction houses will make you wait up to a month before you see your cash.


I hope I have helped you to see why you should call a record dealer in the first instance when looking to sell your vinyl. It’s a quicker and more transparent way to sell your records, so get in touch today.

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