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Investors turn to art and antiques

The volatility of the financial markets appears to be encouraging consumers to switch to alternative investment opportunities, says a survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. More than 50% of chartered surveyors reported a rise in the performance of lots in the £5,000+ band, suggesting that disposable incomes are being spent on arts and antiques viewed as long term investments.

The first quarter coincides with the payout of city bonuses commonly resulting in more activity in the arts and antiques market – this year was no exception. Given the current climate, many are turning away from the financial sector and are investing in tangible goods. However, the performance of lower price brackets- £,1000 -£5,000 lots and £1-£1,000 lots -were more subdued.

The rise in gold and silver prices has impacted on silver in the antiques market. Silver was the strongest performing sub sector in quarter one with 40 percent more Chartered Surveyors reporting a rise than a fall in silver lot prices. Unlike all of the other sub sectors, sentiment in the performance of silver, in all price tiers, was positively high.

The weakest performing sub sector was the clocks market. One percent more surveyors reported a fall in lot prices than a rise, showing that collectors are looking for long term investment items which they hope will attract a wider range of interest in later sales. Items such as clocks usually attract a niche group of collectors.

Surveyors’ confidence in the arts and antiques market over the next three months remains positive with 17% more surveyors expecting lot sales to increase, whilst 32% more surveyors expect lot prices to increase.

RICS spokesman Christopher Ewbank, said: ‘The arts and antiques market remains a viable investment option during this period of financial uncertainty. Many investors are using their disposable incomes to buy in at the high end with the hope that value will continue to stay firm while stocks and bonds ebb and flow.

‘High salaries and large bonuses in many employment sectors have led to a high volume of new buyers entering the arts and antiques market, which has helped to push up the prices of lots. This is most evident in the arts due to the rise in popularity of 21st century art.

‘Despite the fact that many American investors are shying away from UK auction houses due, to the continuing strength of the pound compared to the dollar, the sector will continue to perform while other investment opportunities carry a higher risk.’