Auction Tips
(when appearing in person)
DOs and DON’Ts at the AUCTION

Do plan to bid, even if you don’t really see anything you really like.  Going to Auctions is like gambling in Vegas, it is a thrill to bid whether you actually buy anything or not.

Do say “Hi” to the people around you.  Auctions are competitive, but your fellow bidders are more likely to give way when you really want something if they like you. 

Do listen to the auctioneer.  Listen to the actual price.  Listen for key phrases like “two times the money” or “this is for everything on the wagon” or “this is for choice”.  Know what all of these mean.  Also, a good auctioneer may give you an idea of what something may be worth by his first asking price.

Do arrive early and look at the merchandise ahead of time.  Look through boxes for “treasures”.  Ask questions of the auctioneers or owners if available if you have any.  When the auction begins for that item, the auctioneers may ask the owner a question or two, such as “Does this lawn mower work?”  But, once bidding is under way, there’s no time for hesitation.

Do plan on staying a long time.  Many times, the great items are held on to or spread out over the whole auction…just to get you to stay.  Most auctions run 6 hours or more, so plan accordingly.

Do try to get a deal.  That is why you are at the auction, right?  Don’t pay over what a new one is worth (if not an antique). 

Do set a limit on how high you will go on an item.  For example, you see an antique clock you want.  Ask yourself, “What is the most I will pay?”  Then start low, but do not go over your high price, no matter how tempting.  Don’t take it personal when you loose the item to a higher bidder.

Don’t start bidding immediately on an item, but don’t wait too long either.  Hesitating too much may add “junk” to your item or cause it not to sell.  Also, don’t hesitate when you bid.  Be smart, but know ahead of time what you will go up to.

Don’t buy anything that no one can confirm if it works or not.  If no one run the item and no one can confirm it works, it may be junk.

Don’t hold your card up the entire time you are bidding.  You don’t need to show your number card until after you have been declared the high bidder…then you should have it ready and immediately accessible.  If you want to bid, after you catch the auctioneer’s attention, a subtle nod or hand wave will do.  If others bid against you, the auctioneers will look to you as a courtesy to see if you want to continue bidding.  Also, always know when you are the high bidder and when you are not.

Don’t bid when the auctioneer is offering two items for sale at the same time and says “two times the money” if you only want one of the items…unless you want to pay double.  “Times the money” is jargon for multiplying the price of one bid by all the items involved.  For instance, an auctioneer might show two lamps and say “two times the money”.  If you win the bid at $50, you just bought two lamps for a total price of $100.

Don’t assume that a farm auction is only for farmers.  Most of the best vintage and antique items are found at farm sales.

Don’t loudly declare, “Wow, that is a rare antique!  That is worth at least $500!”  Keep your insights, and your intentions, to yourself.  You might get that item for $50.  Also, look at items you want closely, but also other items too.  It is an advantage to not let other people know what you are interested in until the bidding starts.

Don’t say, “$50?  I’ll give you $15 for that is all it is worth!”  Auctioneers and other bidders do not like this.  I have seen many items where people bid only to raise the price of an item so that “rude” or “resellers” do not get the item cheap.

Don’t be afraid to talk to people.  You may be able to “make a deal too”.  Most items are similar if put in a box…but there are times where you can see some fishing lures and old dishes in one box. If you win this box as the high bidder for $100 and only want the lures, there is nothing wrong with later asking quietly and politely the person you last outbid if they wish to buy the dishes.  They may say “yes”, and you can sell them the dishes for $50 or so.  That way, you both win.  But, don’t be surprised if they were after the same item you were.

And, one more DO and DON'T -- Do understand that you can't get everything that you want.  Don't be afraid to let an item go to someone else.

I love going to auctions.  I rarely buy anything anymore, but still like to attend.

Here a a few tips for novice auction attenders.