Ready for a live auction?? Here are some tips for success


An auction is where a product is sold at a specific date and time. The highest bidder wins the item and the price usually starts low to get more bidders. To have success at an auction, understand why you are there. Are you a dealer and want to resell the same item or do you want to purchase it for a personal collection? Every bidder needs to know their price point to stop and never bid on emotion or suggestions from others. If you are bidding for a collection, understand your competition consists of about 80% dealers bidding to make a profit. Below are strategies to implement for antique and car auctions.

Antique Auction: It is best to find an auction close to home. This saves time and money. Local newspapers are a great source to see upcoming auctions and national auctioneers association provides live auctions by date and location. Be prepared by measuring the walls in your house and always take a tape measure for the auction. Also, bring bubble wrap, boxes, and bags in case you purchase anything delicate. Ask to hear the ground rules and make sure to visit NAA website for typical auctioneer’s chant and basic rules in an auction. Drive a truck or SUV because it has more space then a sedan. If there is a catalog available before the auction, educate yourself on the products before the auction starts.

Every item won will always have fees associated with them such as tax and auction fees. If $1,000 is your max limit then stop at $900. Figure out your reserve and stick with it. In an antique auction it is best to sit in the back because you can see everything that goes on in the room. Pay attention to when your competition reaches their limit. If a couple is bidding on an item, they usually turn to each other and shake their head “no” when their limit has been reached. Always form a good relationship with the ring men because they work with the bidders. If you are interested in an item get their attention. Some ring men help if you can’t understand the auctioneer’s quick speech. Only beat your competitors with money you are comfortable spending and always start at least 10% under the suggested price of the item.

Car Auction: If the vehicle is traded in, leased, repossessed, or totaled chances are it will be in a car auction. Go to an auction wanting to purchase 5 or 6 different cars. Don’t just focus on one because chances are you probably will not get that vehicle unless you overbid. Always pay attention to the cars make, model, and year. There are many opportunities for a bargain in a car auction, but understand there is potential for a disaster as well. Before going to any car auction learn the seller names. It is a good idea to call the business and learn who cosigned cars for the event. If the sellers are banks and financial institutions, then it’s a better sign the vehicle is reliable. Typically, banks and financial institutions are first because they have the best inventory at a reasonable price. Banks want their vehicles sold quickly and painlessly. The next sellers in a car auction will be car dealers such as Toyota, Ford, Acura, etc. Car dealer sellers work best for experienced bidders. The experienced bidders spend time researching the vehicles and understand potential issues ahead of time. They are fully capable of performing their own maintenance. The last sellers at an auction are independent car dealers that novice bidders should avoid at all costs. Independent car dealer sellers are experienced at selling used cars. If independent car dealers are unable to sell their vehicles to retail customers, then the same cars are placed in public auctions. The vehicles sold are most at risk for not running properly and have many issues. Independent car dealers hope to sell their inventory to novice bidders who do not understand what they are doing.