I was talking to a friend the other day about some of the great things you find at a general auction, as well as the trash that can sometimes sell for a lot of money! She said that she ad never been to an auction as she has no idea how to ‘do it’. I figured that she couldn’t be the only one out there so I should maybe write a real simple guide to auctions.
First rule is ‘be fearless’. They are there to sell stuff to you, so it goes without saying (but I will) that they are going to be welcoming and friendly (generally). It also means show no fear to the dealers you will come across – if they sense your nervousness they will sometimes try to intimidate you out of bidding against them – believe me I’ve come across it! They will try to stand in front of you, jump bids up and stare at you when you bid. Laugh at them. Especially if you are buying for yourself and not to sell on. Dealers need to make a profit so they have a limit they will go up to and no further so private buyers have an advantage here.
Turn up in plenty of time, especially if you haven’t been to a viewing previous to the actual auction. Once you arrive find out how much the buyer’s premium is – generally 15 – 20%, which is added to the final winning bid. Register for a bidding number (some places will charge a refundable deposit for your number) and then have a good look around.
Don’t get carried away! This is probably the hardest rule to follow – did you see what I bought by accident? Make sure that whatever you want is in an acceptable condition, with all necessary parts, without wood worm or dry rot (if relevant). Then set your price and don’t go beyond it! Often you will think ‘just one more bid’ but this can turn into another few bids and, before you know it, you’re paying retail for it! And don’t forget to include that buyers premium I mentioned earlier!
Also I should point out that you need to transport your purchases within a day or two (or you will be charged a storage fee), so remember your space and don’t go buying that beautiful Welsh dresser if you only have a motorbike to get it home.
Some auctioneer’s will talk a different language (or it sounds like it) so listen carefully or you could get caught out bidding more than you want to. And don’t be afraid to offer less than they are asking for – if bidding has slowed down and they are asking for the next bid to be £50 feel free to shout ‘£47?’, the worst they will do is say no!
If you have an internet connection on your phone then use time between your desired purchases to check out eBay, Gumtree etc for current selling prices.
Once you have finished buying take your number back to the office where they will calculate your bill to include the buyer’s premium, and tax due etc.
Sometimes you will have to wait until the end of the auctions to collect your items but often you can gather them up and take them home to gloat over!
So, what did I buy? At this particular auction I picked up a couple of chairs for a future project, 2 lovely candelabra, a new rug for my living room and 3 porcelain Disney figurines to go into my eBay verses Etsy experiment (coming soonish).
I’d love to hear of your auction experiences, good and bad.