Thursday, April 18, 2013

Going Once, Going Twice...Sold: 5 Tips for Attending your First Auction

One dollar bid, now two, now two, will ya' give me two? Two dollar bid, now three, now three, will ya' give me three?  

Oh yes my friends...that is the sound of the auction, beckoning you to come in and buy some stuff!  Until very recently, I had never been to an auction.  I suppose that is not entirely accurate, as I do vaguely recall attending a doll auction with my mom when I was little.  But I really was unclear about what was going on, and I remember sitting very still, afraid that even the slightest movement would be mistaken for a bid!

But let me tell you, I have been missing out.  Auctions are fun!  I was a little nervous going to my first "real" auction, so I want to share a few tips with you.  So if you decide to go, you will feel like an expert.

Tip 1:  Do Your Research
Most auction houses advertise their upcoming sales online with pictures or with a paper catalog of the items to be sold.  Spend some time viewing the online photos to decide if the auction is a good fit for you.  Some auctions are very specific, selling only one kind of item (cars, coins, etc.), while others will have a variety.

Tip 2:  Arrive Early
Typically the auction house will be open a few hours/ days before the start of the sale for you to preview the items.  At an auction items are sold "as is, where is" meaning the buyer is responsible for inspecting the condition before the sale.

Tip 3:  Get a Number
See the clerk of the auction to register and get a number for bidding.  They will need your name, address, and driver's license in order to issue you a number.  Get a number even if you don't think you will buy just never know!

Tip 4: Beware the Fees
Most auctions charge a buyer's premium, which is an additional fee tacked on to purchased items.  Sometimes the fee is a percentage of the price, sometimes it is a flat fee.  Make sure you know the terms of sale, so you can factor this fee into the overall purchase price.

Tip 5: Just Ask
There may be other items in the auction house that you are interested in, that are earmarked for a future sale.  Ask the auctioneer to sell that item while you are there.  Most of the time, they are happy to accommodate you.

I hope you will attend an auction in your area soon!  It really is a fun time!

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