New Kids of the Block: Rookie Mistakes of Auction Bidding

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When it comes to acquiring priceless or invaluable items, it’s really a no-brainer to buy at auction. With competitive bidding strategies, you can potentially walk out with expensive artwork, furniture, antiques or large machinery for a fraction of their retail value cost. However, novice bidders may end up with an unfavorable outcome from bidding if they don’t know how the auction game is played.  

Auction buying is an art. But, unfortunately not all of us are natural artists of the auction block.

The first step to becoming an expert auction bidder is to know what habits to avoid at the live auction. Here are some of the quintessential mistakes that beginnings run into when bargaining or collecting items through bidding:

Not reading the fine print of payment terms.

Before you even dare to wave that bidder paddle in the air like you just don’t care, make sure you understand the processes of payment.  Are there extra charges like buyer’s premium that get placed on the total cost of a winning bid? Think about payment methods like whether they accept credit cards or checks. Are there deposits you must make before the auction begins?

The biggest rookie mistake in auction buying is purchasing an item without considering the total cost and not just the winning bid amount.

Dressing uncomfortably or forgetting a folding chair (in some cases.)

Dress for the type of auction you’re attending. If it is an outdoor or barn held auction, don’t wear your fresh white Nikes and complain when they end up covered in a coating of mud and hay before the first gravel slams the block. Also, you may need to bring folding chairs to some auctions in the event that seating is all occupied.

Bidding on items you’re not sure about.

The competitive nature of live auctions can cause anxious auction attendees to make brash decisions to bid on items they later realize they really didn’t end up wanting to purchase. If you rashly place a bid and end up winning, you can’t take it back after that hammer hits.

On the other hand be careful also about…

Not moving fast enough on great items.

Sure, you don’t want to end up getting stuck with an item you’re not really that into. But, when an item’s turn comes that you definitely had your eye on during the preview day---don’t hesitate for a moment! Auctions move lightning fast and you need thunderous speed to keep up to snag those irresistible items on the block.

Getting too visibly excited about items you are interested in.

If you let out an audible gasp as the item you want to win, then it’s pretty much an open invitation for competition to want to bid and you seriously hurt your chances of heading home with it in your possession. Others will think “wow, I must need that, too” if they hear your excitement.

Starting with your close to maximum price bids.

The biggest benefit of auctions often times is to walk away with a phenomenal deal, right? (Everyone loves a good deal.) So don’t be careless with your initial offerings.  Everyone has a limit to what they are willing to pay. Ease into those bids so that you only need to shelf out money if you need to.

Missing the preview day.

The easiest way to prepare yourself to win the is by attending the preview to familiar yourself with the goods that will be up for bidding during the fast paced auction. If you see an item during the preview day that is slightly damaged, you could consider whether it’s fixable or not, for example. If you deem it a quick and cheap fix for the damaged item, it is pretty plausible you win it because other buyers won’t take the time to consider its worth paired with its repair needs.

Plus, if you attend the preview and don’t see any items you’re even remotely interested in, you can save yourself a huge heap of time and energy by avoiding it all together honestly.  You don’t want to walk into an auction without knowing exactly what is going to be sold that day.

Waiting to pick up your winning bid items.

At most live auctions, they want items sold and gone post haste. As soon as you start to accumulate items you also want to start bringing the to your car. If you need to go on a bathroom break and leave your newly won items unattended, stolen items are your responsibility so wise up. Also, think about putting your wins in your vehicle in a smart way by hiding them in the trunk and locking it so it doesn’t draw thieves.

Buying too much too early.

The best time to make purchases at auction is the afternoon because the majority of the other attendees have already spent tons of money in the start in the morning.  Hold out for some treasures that are still around even after “the breakfast club” wears themselves out. 


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