at auction or as a commission sale?
Comparing two options
This note aims to compare two options for selling a classic car -
selling at auction with a leading classic car auctioneer or selling
using a commission sale arrangement with a specialist trader.
Of course another popular way of selling a classic car is through
a car for sale advert in a commercial or club magazine or online site
and that is touched on below.
The two cases examined alongside look at the costs and the benefits
for the seller in each case. Those benefits are not only financial
but also come from useful services provided by the auctioneer or specialist
trader: marketing and displaying the car, avoiding buyers rolling
up at your house tyre-kicking,
avoiding the stress of preparing and marketing a classic car for sale
and ensuring safe payment is received and handling documentation to
complete the sale.
The charges vary between specialist classic car auction houses
but are a substantial cost for both buyer and seller. There can also
be additional fees, for example for a larger mention in an auction
catalogue rather than a single entry, so those need to clarified with
the auction house selected to handle the sale of a car.
Auction charges - example at Barons
Other classic car auctioneers may have higher charges, but see the
Barons' website for
further details of their charges:
Buyer's Premium is 10% plus VAT on the premium, minimum of £150.
Seller's Commission is 5% plus VAT, minimum of £150.
A seller's commission of 5% is the lowest auction houses are likely
to charge and many will charge more.
Which route will reach a buyer prepared to pay a good price? -
that's a key question
The key question for a seller is which selling option will reach a
buyer prepared to pay a good price and which option will best suit
a seller. A popular choice for a seller is to advertise their car
and handle the preparation and display of their car they have to be
prepared to handle visits from possible buyers to inspect and test
the car. See more below.
Advertising a car for sale
This is the route usually used for selling a classic car and there
are plenty of places to do so. They include placing an advert in trade
and club magazines and posting an advert with online sites like Car&Classic
or eBay. The V8 Website offers cars for sale adverts which
have proved to be a very effective way to offer an MGV8 for sale.
Adverts on the V8 Website
The V8 Register offers "cars for sale" adverts on the V8
Website comprising a classified advert with a linked A4L PDF twin
column document where a full set of photos of the car plus the text
describing the car can be displayed. We offer advice on how to draft
an advert and we also have a regular updated MGV8 market review and
price guide to assist you. See the link below.
MGBGTV8s for sale adverts
MG RV8s for sale adverts
Buy an advert
MGV8 Price Guide update
Last update to the end of April 2019 released early in May. More
Buying a selling advice on the buyinganmg.com website
It's a website packed with useful information and advice.
Where to sell an MGV8?
See our 5 page article on the selling routes available. Which selling
route you choose will depend on your aims and your situation. The
article describes how someone selling an MGV8 can approach the task
and choose a route which best suits them. More
Posted: 190728 & updated: 190801
Comparative assessment of the benefits
for the seller using a sale at an auction with a leading classic
Gain visibility in the auction brochure
Placing your car with a reputable classic car auctioneer will
see your car listed in their auction catalogue and mentioned
in their online listing ahead of the auction.
Gain visibility in the auctioneer's publicity
Your car will be included in the auctioneer's online listing
of entries several weeks ahead of the auction date. Frequently
the classic car press report on forthcoming auction listings
- for example Classic Car Weekly - so useful publicity for the
sale of your car will come from that.
Auctioneer can advise on pricing your car
The auctioneer can advise on setting an estimate price or estimate
price range in their catalogue, and any reserve price requirements
(minimum sale price) the seller might wish to have can be discussed
Auctioneer can advise of drafting the text for the car in
their auction catalogue
This needs to be drafted carefully to be an attractive read
but accurate covering the type of car, when produced, the mileage,
condition of the car, service record, age of the tyres, number
of previous owners, parts replaced and any modifications or
extras that have been fitted.
Auctioneer can take a set of photos of the car
A good set of photos, particularly when your car is advertised
available online, will help potential buyers view the the car
in detail and form a view as to whether they will make the effort
to travel to the auctioneer to make an inspection of the car
and then attend the auction itself.
Auctioneer can provide telephone bidding facilities
This convenience can be helpful for some buyers. The necessary
arrangements to set up an online telephone facility for a bidder
will need to be made ahead of the auction and an agreement exchanged
covering the terms and conditions of the arrangement.
Trader can suggest vehicle inspectors should a bidder seek
Buying a classic car at auction without a careful inspection
ahead of the bidding is essential. Where a bidder does not feel
competent to inspect a car then they will need to engage a suitably
qualified and experienced inspector to make the inspection and
provide a report. Suggested vehicle inspectors are mentioned
on the buyinganmg.com website. Inspectors
There is also a checklist on that website of key areas a potential
buyer will need to examine when inspecting a car prior to bidding.
Auction involves live bidding at a moment in time
Whilst a car listed for auction will be required to be available
at the auction site for short period before the auction - in
some cases there are special viewing days - the process of selling
is between the auctioneer and bidders. When the hammer comes
down the sale is made provided the final bid is above the reserve
or meets any other prior conditions. Where a reserve is not
met the auctioneer's team will usually discuss the case away
from the auction room with interested bidders and discuss any
offers they make with the seller, usually by telephone, or in
person if the owner of the car is also attending the auction.
In many of these cases an agreed price is reached and a sale
is made through the auctioneer.
Sales rates at auctions
A recent piece in Classic
Car Weekly indicated the recent proportion of cars selling
at auction was around 62% overall. Where a car
does not sell at auction the seller has to retrieve the car
promptly and then reconsider options on how best to sell their
Comparative assessment of the benefits
for the seller using a commission sale arrangement with a specialist
Gain visibility in a trader's showroom
Placing your car with a specialist MG trader on a commission
sale basis will have your car well prepared and on expert display
in their showroom to get a good exposure to buyers over several
weeks or longer. Staff with a specialist trader usually know
more than most about a particular car and can speak authoritatively
about the features of the car and service matters.
Gain visibility in a trader's advertising
Your car will feature on the "cars for sale" stock
on their website and selectively in their adverts in club and
Benefit from any introductions of serious buyers that are
known to the specialist trader
In the course of their business specialist traders are often
aware of potential buyers who are looking to buy an MG and can
introduce commission sale cars to them.
Costs of a commission sale are set out
Leading traders offering a commission sale service will have
a standard agreement setting out their role (usually on a sole
basis), the display period, costs, the duties of the seller
and of course the fee and payment terms. The trader will advise
on the value, give the car a full workshop inspection and prepare
the car for display.
Benefit when a car has been previously serviced by the trader
Where your car has been regularly serviced by the trader, they
will have a good knowledge of the condition and maintenance
record of the car, so they will be able to market the car well
and with confidence.
Trader will check and prepare your car for display to customers
Your car will be checked and prepared for display. Those checks
could be a routine service, an MOT test, or checks to reveal
any defects that need attention before the car is offered for
sale by the trader. Those additional services will be invoiced
separately by the trader.
Trader can advise on pricing your car
A specialist trader can provide advice on how to price your
car based on condition and mileage. Our MGV8 price guide will
Market review & price guide
Trader will have insurance
The trader will have insurance and trade plates for demonstrating
the vehicle and test driving by potential buyers.
Seller can avoid the hassle of dealing with buyers
Many classic car enthusiasts prefer not to have buyers visiting
their homes to inspect, test drive and haggle for their car.
Engaging a specialist MG trader can transfer that role for a
commission - usually as a "success only" fee.
Specialist trader has an incentive to negotiate a good price
with a buyer
The greater the selling price the larger will be the commission
fee so the trader has an interest to work to get a good sale
price for you.
Trader will handle the sale payment and necessary documentation
The trader will ensure the sale is handled well, safe payment
is made and received, the V5C and other documentation is dealt
with correctly and the handover or delivery of the car is made
once the payment is cleared and received. Any delivery charge
will be a matter to be agreed between the trader and the buyer.
Trader activity at auctions
Traders of various types are frequently seen at classic car
auctions bidding in their subtle ways and many of them are looking
for a car which they might be able to buy at a price lower than
might be expected and then shortly after the auction they will
be able to offer it for sale at a higher price. A profitable
"uplift"! Some of our Pricewatch NEWS items have reported
prompt "price uplift" cases!
Some traders offer those cars through good looking adverts or
on their websites and some in seemingly "top end"
showrooms. It's not unknown for traders to discuss lots on auction
day and mention which they are keen on and by implication or
agreement get fellow traders to resist bidding on the lot. Their
aim is to reduce rival bidding and secure an attractive purchase
price with their bid so they pay less than might otherwise have
been the case.
Condition of a car
Whilst good auction houses do try and ensure cars listed for
auction are accurately described, many specifically state they
have no responsibility for the description of the car as it
may well have been provided by the seller. They usually stress
a thorough inspection of the car should be made before bidding
on the car and that any car is bought as seen. Clearly there
is scope for a seller to have a "convenient oversight"
when it comes to describing their car. Frequently an emphasis
on originality can overlook modifications, not least that a
chrome bumper conversion has been carried out on an MGBGTV8
which was originally a rubber bumper model. Unless bidders have
a close knowledge of VIN numbers (rubber bumper MGBGTVs came
in at VIN 2101) they may be unaware of the original status of
a car or its trim and body colour.
Auction is a decisive moment with a car offered for sale
A clear advantage of offering a car for sale at an auction is
a bid over any reserve will sell as the hammer falls. There
is no lengthy period of advertising and an endless stream of
enquiries from possible buyers and visits to inspect the car.
When a lot comes up at an auction the sale of the car begins
and is usually settled in a matter of minutes.
Online auction sites are growing
Several online auction sites have appeared in the last few years
and their internet reach may be an advantage but serious bidders
will need to make a physical inspection of the car before closing
a purchase based on a bid made on an online auction.
Bonhams MPH classic car auctions
Bonhams MPH has been launched a new and innovative branch within
their company. It is based at the motoring heritage centre at
Bicester, their publicity says they "will provide industry
leading marketing for every lot, ensure a better customer experience,
achieve the very best sale price possible, and charge realistic
and transparent fees. Their auctions will take place at the
celebrated centre of automotive excellence, Bicester Heritage,
and we encourage all our clients to visit our on-site offices
and experience the hub of historic motoring. Our charges are
competitive: seller commission at just 5% plus VAT and buyers
premium at 12.5% plus VAT". More
Condition of cars offered for sale
A responsible specialist
trader will not be prepared to sell a substandard car - for
example one with worn kingpins or brake lines - and will want
the seller to agree to have any necessary work carried out to
get the car in an acceptable state to offer it for sale in their
showroom. As a trader offering a car on a commission sale basis
they are acting as an agent for the owner who is the seller
and, whilst the liabilities a trader would have with sales of
cars from their own stock may not generally arise with commission
sales, the reality is a leading MG specialist would not want
a substandard car in their showroom. They will regard their
reputation as vital even when handling a classic car as a commission
Traders' interest in offering commission sales
Not all specialist traders are enthusiastic about commission
sales but clearly there is an advantage in that the trader does
not have the financing burden of funding the stock cars in their
showroom that are there on a commission sale basis.
Auction option may be the better option for a prompt sale
Sometimes its better for an owner to accept a lower sale price
than to have the costs, delay and expense of refurbishing a
car for sale through a commission sale or a sale managed by
the owner through an advertisement in magazines or online. In
such cases selecting a classic car auction as the route for
selling a car has advantages.
Seasonal factor in selling a classic car
Interest in buying classic cars tends to be more active in the
months from May to October because enthusiasts interested in
getting a car may well be inspired by seeing cars they like
on display at club and classic car meetings and from seeing
more cars out on the road as enthusiasts tend to drive them
much more in the Summer months. So the likelihood of an enthusiast
responding to a classic car advertised for sale or on offer
with a specialist trader or listed for auction tends to be greater
in Summer months.
do involve a considerable journey from areas where most classic
car enthusiasts are located. For example the trip to the reputable
Morris Leslie auctions near Perth can involve a journey of 350
miles taking 7 hours each way from the Midlands.