Saturday, October 27, 2012

Making A House Call To Buy Antiques And Collectibles: Tips And Warnings

Annoying House Calls Antique Dealers Are Familiar With

There is no delicate way of  discussing annoying antique house calls. I'm speaking about the person who calls you on the phone (or emails you) luring you to come to their home because they have GREAT STUFF that YOU will like.

These are the folks who have  been keeping an eye on what you like or buy. Perhaps they are customers in your antique shop or mall.

Do You Get That "Cooties" Feeling  ?

The point is that they "have your number". They know how to dangle a collectible carrot in front of your nose. So you go running over to their home (or apartment) to find out one of these all too common scenarios: Their home is a horror house (you get that cooties feeling)......they have cherry picked all the good stuff first (only brown is left)......they tell you everything is for sale...but every time you pick up an item you like, they are not selling it..... and lastly. ...their idea of good stuff is miles away from your idea of good stuff .

Sellers Acting Dumb

I want to throw in, the ploy that I come across a lot. People who say in one way or another that   don't know if what they have is valuable or they need you to help them figure out if something can be sold. Don't buy it. There are no more clueless sellers anywhere. The name of the game is coming up with a fair deal.

 Tips For  Making An Antique Home Visit

1. Ask sellers to email or send photos to you before.
2. Ask them to have a price list prepared.
3. Ask sellers where is the item (make sure they have prepared stuff to sell). I was lured to buy linens only to hear the seller tell me they were packed away in attic when I arrived  to their home.
4. Ask seller to put aside smalls they want to sell in one spot so you are not picking through their closets only to hear they are keeping the good stuff.
5. For kitchen collectibles for example, determine what colors they are selling.  Reds, yellow, greens sell better than brown,  orange avocado green.
6. Discuss upfront(on phone) if items have holes, cracks, tears, rust etc.
8. Don't believe that you are the first person invited in to see the stuff.
9. If you have a shop, ask them to bring things to your shop.
10. Lower your expectations!

I would love to hear from my readers, what have been your experiences, please spill the beans. Do you have advice to add?

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of I Antique Online an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro caf√©. To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at Visit my website, Dianne is a member of: The American Society of Journalists and Authors The Society of Professional Journalists


  1. I must respectfully disagree that there are no more clueless sellers anywhere. They all think their items are worth at least as much as they paid for them when they bought them ten or twenty years ago. After all, antiques and collectibles always increase in value - right???

  2. I won't let strangers in my home. My experiences have mostly been about friends and neighbors who have given me things after they cleared out their house or a family member's house and just wanted to be done with it. They usually think it's "old Junk" and don't really care to listen to my soapbox proclamation about what everything is worth and how they can make some extra money. My last donation consisted of a lot of nothing, but also a valuable brass railroad lantern. I'm glad that they didn't want it, because I love it.


  3. Replies
    1. D you are so intelligent and witty about Antiques. I admire reading pretty much everything you write,I'm a big fan.

  4. I used to go to homes, but don't until I you said...gotten a list of what they are planning to sell, seen their asking price and tried to tactfully discuss the current market, that the antique shows are entertainment and that there are differences between retail and wholesale prices. I was burnt early on by someone who wanted me to buy a house full of things, but really only wanted a free appraisal.

  5. GREAT post! Thanks! I've been getting a LOT of people lately who know that I have a booth in an antique mall, and they want me to "sell" their stuff, but want top dollar for it. Most of it isn't even stuff that will sell, but they don't want to hear it!

  6. have had only a few requests for house calls but none have ever been fruitful. Most of those who have called me, (actually emailed me,) were looking to get free advise and valuations on the worth of their pieces and how to sell them. Most tend to get upset when I tell them I normally charge for such advice and consultations. After all, I have spent years learning what I know to include tuition for classes and much more. I do professional documentation for art pieces and collections and my time is not free.

    Now I simply tell people to bring their items to me or email me with all specifics to include detailed photographs. If they have something I send them a bit of info and an estimate for services. I almost never hear back from them. Everyone wants these services for free. I certainly do not expect free consultations and I pay myself whenever it becomes necessary. There are many pieces I cannot get information on to include autographs and signatures. If I expect to get full value for my items I sell myself I have to have these pieces documented and authenticated. I know I have to pay experts and I do when I have to.

    I do not intend to appear stuck up or snobbish but this is how I earn my living! Those I have to pay also make their living doing this. It takes a lot of time to properly document, authenticate and value an item. Then we have to sign our name to documents and risk people suing us if our estimates and/or information is wrong. We have to pay for insurance and/or bonding to protect our clients from malpractice or the occasional mistake, which unfortunately happens now and again. Sadly there are many good forgers out there who manage to get a certificate from a professional. When the fake is discovered, we are the one's who have to take the fall and this costs us in money and reputation.

    Yes, people get quite upset, even angry and indignant with me. But how do they respond if I asked them to work for me with no compensation? How do they react if I tell them they will do a perfect job or I will sue them? This is how they treat me!

    Rick Murray

  7. After quite a few awkward scenarios where customers have literally just thrown items at me because I wasn't willing to pay for their junk, I decided to tell everyone that asks that I never pay more than 2 or 3 dollars for anything, no matter what it's worth.And let's not even talk about the people that call me because I have a booth (but have never even set foot in the shop)and want me to take some smelly old couch off their hands. I love what I do, and enjoy the treasure the hunt for unique items to feature in my booth, but I am still blown away by some peoples behavior. And what about their assumption that dealers are overflowing with cash at the ready for their precious stuff?
    Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Had to share :)

  8. Excellent advice. I totally agree with the comment that "there are no more clueless sellers anywhere". So true.

  9. Nice article , want to know about this topic more

    how to buy a house

  10. This blog is really informative i really had fun reading it.

  11. I own a shop and this is so true. I recently drove 75 miles round trip only to find out they had an appraisal sheet for everything... from 20 years ago. I couldn't even offer 10% of the prices he had. Coundn't even get a compensation purchase out of the guy for some of his mediocre items.