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8 Tips on How to Bid at Auctions

Live auctions are adrenaline pumping, shopping experiences. For a novice, it can be quite intimidating to enter the bidding fray. Take a moment to review these tips below, and you’ll have the confidence to be waving your paddle with the best of them. Auctions have been used for selling everything imaginable. Even before online auctions like Ebay, there have been many variations including silent, Dutch, Sealed Bid, Reserve and No Reserve Auctions. The most common kind of auction is the English Auction.

Here’s How it Works:

Things You'll Need

  • Identification
  • Good poker face
  • Self-restraint
  • Money/Credit card


Tip 1. You’ll Need to Register

For most auctions, you will need to get a bidding paddle with a number on it. To get this, you will have to register with the cashier and may have to show ID or give a refundable deposit or leave your credit card. This is to ensure that you pay before you leave with your item and to show that you do have enough money to participate.


Tip 2. Watch and Listen
Each auctioneer is a bit different. Some auctioneers are fast and some are slow however every auctioneer has their own style and what we call “auction chant”. Listen for a while before getting into the action to get used to the auctioneer. Otherwise you may end up bidding much more than you thought or had planned.

Tip 3. Buyer Beware--No Returns
Check out the goods carefully before buying. Depending on the goods, you may be able to preview the items up for auction before the auction. Most auctions have a 2 hour window to preview the items before each auction. Remember every item is sold on “AS IS AND WHERE IS BASIS”.  However in the case of real estate auctions, terms are slightly different and the seller may or may not accept your offer as we offer Real-Estate property for sale by Auction subject to owner’s approval. If you come late, sometimes you can look among the unsold items during the auction.

Tip 4. Choose Paddle Movement
In most auctions, bidders do not wildly wave their paddles. Many bidders and dealers try to be discreet so as to keep people from running up the bid and making them pay more than necessary. The auctioneer learns to recognize the signals of regular bidders. It may be a paddle in front of the chest, a slight head nod, or raising the hand to shoulder level. Just make sure you are noticed by the auctioneer or ring person and that your bid is taken.
Do not worry if you scratch your nose or head. This does not mean the auctioneer will take you as a bidder. But don’t stand up and wave to your friend across the room with your bidder number in hand either. You might end up with a $45,000 dollar diamond you weren’t looking to buy.

Tip 5. Buying the Lot - One Price, Bidder Takes All?

If the auctioneer is selling several like items, be careful to hear whether you are bidding one price for the whole lot, bidding on one item or bidding for one item but buying the whole lot. For example, if 4 dining chairs are for sale, are you bidding $100 for all 4 chairs for a total price of $100 ($25 per chair) OR are you bidding $100 for 1 chair but "bidder takes all" meaning you have to take all 4 chairs for a total of $400.

Tip 6. Stay Within Your Limits
Auctions are fast paced and exciting. Auctioneers are skilled at trying to get the most out of an item for the seller. To keep your head, you need to decide ahead of time what your maximum bid will be and make sure you don't go above that.

Tip 7. Sold Means Sold
Once the auctioneers accepts your bid and he says SOLD to your number, that constitutes a binding contract and you can’t change your mind whether you think you bid on the wrong lot or you think you paid too much or it’s the wrong size, color or shape. You will be charged for the item and payment is your responsibility.

Tip 8. Never lose your bidder number.