Use Caution When Buying Things at Auction

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 30th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Shopping

How to buy things at a live auction. How to understand what an auctioneer is saying. How to bid at an auction sale. Tips for getting the best deal at an auction.

Types of Live Auctions

There are many different types of auctions, from those where buyers sit in chairs in an auction house, to farm auctions where people stand around outside. There are auctions for everything from coins, to cars, to real estate. There are mystery auctions where the buyer might buy the contents of a storage unit after only a short peek inside.

Some auctions allow people to send in bids online, or over the phone, while the live auction is going on.

Attending a live auction can be fun, but it can also be a place where money is lost on impulse buys.

Typical Auction Happenings

At some auctions items up for bid will be described in a catalog that is sent out to interested parties weeks in advance.

There may, or may not, be a day in advance of the auction where people can come to look at items that will be up for bid.

Some auctions allow people to walk around and examine items just before the auction starts or even while it is on.

Buyers must always register and get a buyer/bidder number. They give this number to the auctioneer every time they win a bid.

An item is shown and described briefly before bidding starts. Usually the auctioneer first asks a rather high price but then lowers it, and lowers it again, until somebody bids, at which point he increases the price as people bid.

When bidding slows or stops he does a "last call" before saying "Sold". Then it is on to the next item.

When a buyer is ready to leave they usually have to pay for all their items before they can get them but at some auctions smaller items are given to people as soon as they have won the bid and it is assumed they will pay before leaving.

How Not to Get Burned at an Auction

There are some tricks used by auctioneers and sellers at auction and you have to be careful. Ideally have a buddy who is not going to be bidding against you. Have that person seated somewhere that they can see you and other bidders.

I recently had a friend get dinged at an auction because apparently the auctioneer was taking false bids from an invisible buyer behind where my friend was sitting. My friend just assumed that there was a person a few rows behind him bidding, but apparently he was the only bidder.

I have also had the seller plant a friend in the crowd to bid against somebody they know is interested so that they can drive the price up. Never discuss your plans to buy something with a seller because if they know you want something they may try this.

Keep notes of what you have bought and how much you have spent so that at the end of the day you do not spend more than you were prepared to spend.

Listen carefully to the auctioneer, do not get caught in a bidding war for something that you may not really want. It is easy to feel like the auction is a contest and that the winning bidder is an actual "winner".


Auctions can be great places to have fun and find great deals, they can also be a place where a person can spend more money than they plan if not careful.

*All photos were taken by myself or my wife.

Other Links

Buy or Sell at an Exotic Animal Auction

The Most Money We Spent on an Auction Trip (selling sheep)

Become a Wikinut Writer - Get Paid to Write


Antique Auction, Auction, Auction Market, Auctioneer, Bidding, Buy Things, How To, Livestock Auction, Make A Bid, Shop

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar snerfu
1st May 2015 (#)

I love auctions. We must not get carried away like you say because we might lose money. Great to read about it.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
1st May 2015 (#)

Never been to a live auction. One can get carried away and as you rightly highlighted - "It is easy to feel like the auction is a contest and that the winning bidder is an actual "winner"."

One does get cheated too with some being planted by a seller to keep raising the bid price - siva

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author avatar Retired
1st May 2015 (#)

I go to them sometimes and that is exactly what happens....people start thinking about it like a war! Then they wind up spending a ton of money for something they were really only mildly interested in. This article is good practical advice.

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author avatar Retired
4th May 2015 (#)

Extremely useful tips. Thanks for the share.

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author avatar Carol Roach
6th May 2015 (#)

I have never been to an auction, I always wanted to though

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author avatar Kingwell
13th May 2015 (#)

These are good tips. Blessings.

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