Huggins & Scott Auctions has created a sliding scale for the buyer’s premiums charged to auction winners.
Sports memorabilia auction companies have generally charged flat rate fees for winning bidders and consignors, but Maryland-based Huggins & Scott is going in a different direction beginning immediately.
The company announced a new sliding scale for buyer’s premiums on Monday, with fees ranging from 5% to 17.5%. They had been charging a flat 15% fee to winning bidders. Those purchasing higher end items will pay the lower percentages.
Buyer’s premiums in most auction houses run from 15-20%, with upstart MEARS recently announcing a 10% rate for its new auction platform. The new Huggins & Scott scale, set to be implemented with the company’s next auction, beginning January 18, will be set up as follows:
under $1,300 – add a 17-1/2% premium;
between $1,300 – $4,750 – 15% premium;
between $5,000 – $9,500 – a 12-1/2% premium;
between $10,000 – $24,000 – a 10% premium;
between $25,000 – $47,500 – a 7-1/2% premium
$50,000 or more – a 5% buyers premium will be added to the final bid price
The only buyers who will pay more than the current fee are those who purchase items for less than $1300.
The sliding scale could be very attractive to those looking to buy or sell items costing $5000 or more, a market share H&S is hoping to attract by its move.
"We are hoping so. That’s the key. If the seller sees that a buyer only has to pay an additional 7-1/2% on an item that sells for $25,000, as opposed to 20% at some other auction houses, there is a chance that the item will get an extra bid," Wulkan told Sports Collectors Daily. "Thus the buyer will be paying the same final dollar figure, but the seller will get his percentage on a higher hammer price."
Huggins & Scott’s move could signal a shift in philosophy for auction companies looking to keep or grow their market share as the economy takes its toll.
"It definitely is effecting the industry," Wulkan said. "We are finding that the real high end items seem to be holding strong, but the lesser dollar items are taking a bit of a hit. This makes sense because those who struggle in this type of economy are the people who don’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on collectibles. The higher end pieces are usually purchased by those who have more money anyway and therefore are not quite effected as much."