Tips On Going To Live Auctions

Live Auction Know-How

Buyers at a live auction
••• Rich Legg / Getty Images

If you enjoy hunting for bargains, then you may enjoy attending the local auctions in your area. Live auctions offer wonderful opportunities for finding good deals on treasures that you can keep or sell for profit. The most difficult part of buying at an auction is finding the nerve to make your first bid, then controlling future bids. Once you break the ice and place your first bid, you will be on your way to discovering the fun and money-saving advantages of live auctions.

There are different types of auctions including

The Auction Preview

Attending the auction preview is the most important step in auction success. Find out when the preview of the auction will be held and always attend it. Items sold at auctions are rarely (if ever) covered by a warranty, so it is your job to check out each item that you are interested in bidding on. Plug it in, try it out, turn it upside down and inspect all the features of the item when possible.

Tip - Previews are generally held days before the actual auction. It is a good idea to bring along a camera, flashlight, extension cord, magnifying glass and a notebook. On the actual day of the auction walk through and preview the items that you are interested in to make certain they are still in the same condition.

Do the Research

After the first preview, go home or to the library, and do your research. The Internet provides endless resources on product value, devaluation, repair costs, and the current value of a multitude of items.

Determine the High Bid

Log the information you learned in your research and decide what the highest price you are willing to pay for the item. If you are interested in turning the product around for profit, do not omit all the cost involved in purchasing the item such as repairs, taxes and transportation.

Tip - Once you determine the most you are willing to bid on something log it in your book and stick to it when the bidding war begins. It takes discipline, but it is essential when your goal is to get a great item at a bargain price.

Have Your Money Ready

If you place a bid on an item and you win the bid you cannot pull out of the deal so come prepared with the proper amount of money to cover your bids. Contact the auction company before you go and find out what forms of payments they accept, such as personal checks and charge cards.

When Is the Best Time To Attend?

Weekend auctions are the most populated which adds a lot of pressure to the bidding war. Try to attend mid-week auctions instead, at least for starters. The attendance is usually considerably smaller which increases your chances to get the items you want for the price you are willing to pay.

Look for Odd Items on the Auctions Listings

If an auction is centered on a special interest, but a few items that seem out of context with the rest of the items are listed, chances are you will scoop those items up at a super price. For example, if it is an Oriental rug auction. but there are a few office desks listed, you may be able to get a desk at a great price since most people attending are there for the rugs.

Become a Regular

Being recognized by the auctioneers is to your advantage because they will be more inclined to approach you and show you items that may be of interest to you. You do not have to be a big spender to get the respect of an auctioneer.

Tip - Remember not to waste the time of those helping you by asking about items that you really are not interested in bidding on.

Sign up for Mailing Lists

Ask to sign up for the auctions mailing lists so that you can get advanced notice of when and where auctions will be held, and a list of items being offered.

Know When to Start Bidding

Being the first person to bid on an item is not always the best strategy. Patience is an important key to good bidding. Bidding late into the game can make other bidders think that the price is going to go out of their range and they may be more inclined to pull out of the bidding war.


If you win the bid you are obligated to pay for the item. You cannot change your mind after the bidding has ended. You can stop at any time during the bidding process, but once you hear the words -- Sold -- consider the item yours.

Tip - If you have any reservations about an item you are bidding on, pull out of the bidding process.

Come Prepared to Haul Off Your Items

Since you have done your homework before the auction you will have a good idea of the items you may be coming home with, so bring the right stuff to haul it off such as dollies, blankets, extra loading hands, and a truck so that you can leave with what you paid for.

Know Your Limitations

If you are a good do-it-yourself type person an auction is a fantastic place to get items that may require your tender loving care to optimize the inner beauty. However, if you are not such a person, it is a good idea to stay clear of items crying out for repair.

What if the Reserve is Not Met?

If the reserve amount was not met give the auctioneer your contact information, the lot number of the item, and your high bid so they can pass it on to the owner who may contact you later.