How do auctions work?
When you arrive at an auction site, you will likely need to register to obtain a bidding number. The information needed is typically your name and address and you may need to present a photo ID. In some cases, you may need to make a returnable deposit.
Allow yourself time to inspect the items / lots for sale before the bidding begins. In some cases, there is a specific date set before the auction for inspection. Be sure to contact the auctioneer if you are uncertain about when you can take a close look at items.
When your 'lot' or 'item' is up for sale, the auctioneer will announce it and give a brief description of it. The auctioneer will generally suggest a fairly low starting bid. If there is a reserve price on the item, the auctioneer will often start the bidding with the reserve price.
You are free to begin bidding after the auctioneer announces the starting bid. When bidding, you need to get the auctioneer's attention (or that of the auction crew) by raising your hand. Once you have started bidding, the auction will return to you each time another bid is placed. Clearly raise your hand or nod if you wish to continue bidding. If you are finished bidding, clearly shake your head 'no' so the auctioneer knows you do not wish to bid again.
Bids go up in amounts controlled by the auctioneer, or in some cases a bidder will make a different offer. Listen closely so you know how much the bid is.
If you have the final bid and it is above any 'reserve' price, you have been successful. Some auctioneers require immediate payment, others allow you to accumulate purchases and pay when you are ready to collect your items. Make sure you are aware of the rules prior to the auction.
The item(s) become the responsibility of the purchaser once bidding closes. If the item(s) are large or difficult to move, the auction crew may be able to assist with loading. Please check on this prior to the sale.
A Few Basic Tips for the Beginner...
Before you decide to travel any distance to an auction, view a complete listing to make sure the items in the sale are what you are looking for. Double-check before leaving home that the auction has not been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
Consider setting yourself a price limit on individual items and stay with it to prevent getting caught up in a 'bidding war'. It is easy to catch 'Auction Fever' and overbid.
Inspect items closely as most auction items are sold 'as is'. Listen closely when the item(s) come up for bid. If there is any change in the specifics, the auctioneer will note it prior to bids.
Check the payment terms prior to the auction – Payment options may include cash, check and / or credit cards. Ask about deposits, buyer's premiums and any additional charges that may apply to purchases.
Be discrete when viewing items. Showing visible excitement could announce your intentions to other buyers and increase your competition.
Double-check box lots immediately prior to the auction (if possible). Unscrupulous bidders may switch contents of the boxes.
Make sure you register for a bidder's card / number as soon as you arrive at the site. You cannot bid without one.
Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather and shoes made for standing / walking.
Take a folding chair along in case there is no available seating.
Don't shout out your maximum as bidding begins. Allow the bids to increase and you may come away with the item for less than your limit.
Be sure to jump into the bidding once your item is up. Most sales move fast so if you hesitate you may lose it.
Under no circumstances should you bid if you do not want the item. If you have the winning bid, you are committed to the purchase and can't change your mind once the sale is complete.
And most of all... Have fun!