If you’re looking for a recession-proof business to get into, your luck could apparently be in. Despite the fact that many people are cutting their spending back to the absolute essentials, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has reported, surprisingly, that the art and antiques market is not only surviving the recession but is even turning the downturn to its advantage. So if you have a little seed money to invest and a passion for antiquities then read on.
RICS’ figures show that prices in the antiques and art market rose 70 per cent during the third quarter of this year, although buyers are going for traditional items such as watercolours, oils, jewellery and silverware, rather than contemporary pieces. RICS predicts that demand for art and antiques will continue to grow. Traditionally seed money in the antiques and art market would not go far, but with these substantial price hikes you will need even more informed decisions to make such a business feasible.
So why then, when so many people are so hard up at the moment, are the prices of luxury items like these rising? According to RICS, due to the volatility of the stock market, falling property prices, and the current low low interest on savings, many of those who do have seed money to invest are doing so in ways they consider either to be more stable or more profitable than having it languish in their bank accounts.
So far, so promising, but is art and antique dealing really a viable business opportunity?
For many people, understandably, the idea of dealing in this market is quite a romantic one – it has an appealing image of sophistication and profitability. However, before you start downloading back episodes of Cash in the Attic and looking for relics to flog, the practicalities of becoming an arts and antiques dealer are well worth considering.
Firstly, the financial outlay for this kind of business is significant. For every lucky person that invests their hard-earned seed money in a genuinely valuable item up for far less than its worth, there are thousands of others paying the going rate. And, as we’ve heard, that rate is going up. Antique and art dealers don’t shift units at the rate of Primark either ¬ you could wait months, even years, before you see a return on your investment and find a suitable buyer.
Antique and art dealing is also very time-consuming. It can take quite a while to search for just the right pieces, researching their value and attending auctions and markets. According to the British Antique Dealers’ Association, genuinely valuable antiques are unsurprisingly becoming harder to find.
Also, how’s your knowledge of art history? Would you know an antique china teapot from a piece of charity shop tat? Successful art and antique dealers must be experts in their field and know what pieces to buy, where from and what they’re worth. Such knowledge usually takes years of experience and learning to amass.
Although the market for antiques and art does, it seems, look set to be a growth area, realistically it’s only likely to be a minority who can take advantage of it as a business opportunity: those who have the time, the seed money and a wealth of knowledge on the subject. If that does sound like you, check out trade associations such as the Association of Arts and Antique Dealers and the British Antique Dealers’ Association for tips on how to get started. The rest of us will just have to make do with The Antiques Roadshow reruns for