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Repair financing?


MaxwellS
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Hi maestronet, it's been a while since I posted last time. But since then I've learned so much about the trade, much of that thanks to this wonderful forum. 

A friend of mine, and myself, both recently discovered violins by 2 famous 18th century makers upon evaluation by experts. Allow me to conceal the makers and the experts for now, and just treat this as a hypothetical story. However, being "discovered" from the wild, these instruments are in conditions needing some quite serious repair before we could consign them to private sale or auctions at their fair market price. The repairs range from neck reset, complete clean up, cleaning/regluing cracks, and so on. 

So the obvious problem is, we'll soon be facing repair bills beyond our current financial capabilities, far beyond what we paid for these instruments, to even sell these instruments at their correct value. So given the situation, normally speaking, will average reputable dealers be willing to finance the repair bill, given I'll be consigning the instrument to them? 

I know this may vary from dealer to dealer, but a general "speaking from experience" would definitely give me some good idea on what to expect before I have the difficult conversation with them...

 

Thank you so much! 

Edited by MaxwellS
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The provenance of the instruments would have to be iron clad with rather expensive certificates from prominent experts. If they are indeed genuine high value instruments they are saleable just as they are. I would expect to pay cash for any extensive repairs as restoration guys need to eat too! If you could show us some pictures and what the attributions are we have folks here that know their stuff and have worked on the most important instruments imaginable.

DLB

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This situation comes up quite often.

The first problem with asking a dealer to cover significant restoration costs is that you would need to sign a consignment agreement that was exclusive and indefinite. But conversely you can't oblige the dealer to keep trying to sell your violin, so that's a non-starter.

The second is that owners and sellers rarely agree about the right amount of restoration or who's competent to do it. if the dealer does undertake restoration and require you to pay for it in the event of you taking back the violin because it hasn't sold, you will be very unhappy with the bill.

We do occasionally undertake to cover smaller restoration jobs, maybe up to £1500 or so, for clients that we know and trust, but I wouldn't blame any dealer for refusing point blank.

You seem unclear about how you are planning to sell these violins - auction, private sale, through a dealer/restorer - and that would ring alarm bells for me.

Ultimately if you want to sell these violins for the best price then you need to re-invest. That's what dealers do and there are no short cuts. If you get stuck, then I would sell the lesser of these violins "as is" and use the profit to finance restoration of the other.

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Agree with all Martin is saying.

It's not unusual that proper restoration costs even of "famous 18th century maker" made violins (and this term is very unclear but rather meaningless in itself) will exceed a realistic sale price afterwards if they need to be paid to a third person. Also the time such an instrument needs to be stored till a final sale counts a lot, a time span of several years would be the average, which also needs an insurance etc. So maybe a reliable and reasonable shop or restorer will offer you a certain sum to buy it, which is basing on the presented facts just a small fraction of the expected future resale value, but never will agree into a deal like you are proposing. Just the opposite, suggesting the success of such an unrealistical transaction would ring some alarm bells to me.

The usual way is to sell such objects as "restorable" to a repairer or at an auction.

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If a dealer is truly interested in selling an instrument that needs restoration, they will prefer to buy the instrument outright as-is and do the repairs in-house. That way they control the quality and costs of the work.

I have never heard a dealer say, "I will buy it once you have it repaired/restored someplace else."

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10 hours ago, MaxwellS said:

 However, being "discovered" from the wild, these instruments are in conditions needing some quite serious repair before we could consign them to private sale or auctions at their fair market price. 

1.   I like what George thinks.

2,   You and your friend could try the mindset of expect the best but prepare for the worst. 

The best could be walking away from whichever deal with a profit that would be comfortable to live with afterwards and the worst, example wise speaking only, could be someone pulling the old switcheroo and handing something else back in return - be careful.

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13 hours ago, MaxwellS said:

A friend of mine, and myself, both recently discovered violins by 2 famous 18th century makers upon evaluation by experts. Allow me to conceal the makers and the experts for now, and just treat this as a hypothetical story. However, being "discovered" from the wild, these instruments are in conditions needing some quite serious repair before we could consign them to private sale or auctions at their fair market price. The repairs range from neck reset, complete clean up, cleaning/regluing cracks, and so on. 

So the obvious problem is, we'll soon be facing repair bills beyond our current financial capabilities, far beyond what we paid for these instruments, to even sell these instruments at their correct value. So given the situation, normally speaking, will average reputable dealers be willing to finance the repair bill, given I'll be consigning the instrument to them? 

I know this may vary from dealer to dealer, but a general "speaking from experience" would definitely give me some good idea on what to expect before I have the difficult conversation with them...

Welcome Maxwell;

Congrats on your discovery.

I think Martin summed things up pretty well, though maybe not as concisely a Jacob did... :) ...but I'll add a couple thoughts.

Have you considered a bank loan?  Risk/return on currency is what bank loans are all about.

Currently, "the correct value" or "market value" is what the instruments are worth (could be sold for) in their present condition. What those values would be after restoration is only an educated guess and is in no small part dependent on the restoration itself.

There are independent restorers (not dealers) who may be interested in the job, and qualified to do so... In that case, you could have the work done and flog the fiddles wherever you want.  I imagine you would have to pay them when the work was done, or in installments while the work was ongoing however.

When the conditions are correct, value can be enhanced well beyond the cost of a restoration if undertaken by a really good restorer... but I don't know many really good restorers who are desperate for work... so asking them to enhance the value of a your property and accept a delay in payment for labor seems like a long-shot.

As George mentioned, most dealers would prefer buying in and controlling the work as well as the marketing.

Personally; In general, I tend to avoid doing a major job on a "spec" instrument (one that is being restored to sell) that I don't own a controlling interest in. Asking me to finance the work (carry the cost) for one is a non-starter. I can imagine all kinds of legal/interpersonal horrors.

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My own recent experience was in selling an unlabed chinese cello (my daughters). A very reputable shop (very well known owner/maker/restorer to everyone on this site and VSA). The shop took the cello on consignment, along with a mediocre bow, AND did some crack repair work (estimate $1500 - included top removal). No money changed hands at the time. In ~2yrs the bow was sold and I received full price less commission and the cello sold in 2 1/2yrs at which time I received full price less commission and less repair bill.

Everyone seemed satisfied.

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8 minutes ago, Dr. Ludwig said:

My own recent experience was in selling an unlabed chinese cello (my daughters). A very reputable shop (very well known owner/maker/restorer to everyone on this site and VSA). The shop took the cello on consignment, along with a mediocre bow, AND did some crack repair work (estimate $1500 - included top removal). No money changed hands at the time. In ~2yrs the bow was sold and I received full price less commission and the cello sold in 2 1/2yrs at which time I received full price less commission and less repair bill.

Everyone seemed satisfied.

Did you buy your daughter a better cello whilst you were consigning the Chinese one?

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4 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Did you buy your daughter a better cello whilst you were consigning the Chinese one?

No.

Sadly I suppose, my daughter quit music. She was pretty good, attended Interlochen and University of Indiana on scholarship. I've continued on with trying to learn violin repair and restoration but didn't want to mess up a well sounding generic cello. 

 

We bought the cello in Boston in the 90s. We all liked the sound better than the older and more expensive instruments. Same with the bow. We knew nothing about resale value. Just accepted the 'full price trade-in' pitch if we decided to upgrade later. BTW, we received exactly what we paid for it...less repairs and commission. Not so much on the bow.

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1 hour ago, Dr. Ludwig said:

The shop took the cello on consignment, along with a mediocre bow, AND did some crack repair work (estimate $1500 - included top removal). No money changed hands at the time. In ~2yrs the bow was sold and I received full price less commission and the cello sold in 2 1/2yrs at which time I received full price less commission and less repair bill.

That corresponds to Martin's description... each shop's policies vary, but most will delay payment for modest repair and/or maintenance.  I get the funny feeling you might have to add a zero to get to the level Maxwell requires... 

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