Monday, August 25

How to work an auction

Today it is hard to imagine anything that is not sold at auction.  A personal property auctioneer helps people dispose of items that can be picked up and moved, like antiques and collectibles. 

If you have not tested the waters and attended an auction, let me ask you, Why Not?  Auctions are fun and are currently a popular way to sell goods and make some great buys.  Here are some tips to make your day at the auction a good experience.

If the name of the estate being auctioned is advertised, the auction is probably a bonafide estate sale offering interesting items coming to the marketplace for the first time.  But, sometimes the auctioneer can be asked not to advertise the estate name.  If the words “with additions” are found in the ad, this would indicate that other consignment items have been added to the estate sale items.  The auction house may post pictures of auction items on their website.  In fact, on-line Internet auctions can be combined very successfully with the live auction.  If you have any questions about the set up of the auction, call the auction house for further information.   

Is the auction advertised as an absolute auction or an auction with no minimums and no reserves?  That means that if the auctioneer takes a bid he must continue auctioning the item finalizing the sale at the highest level he can attain.  On the other hand, a reserve auction indicates that there is a minimum bid that the seller will accept.  Is a buyer’s premium advertised?  If so, there will be a percentage added to your bill when you check out.  The typical buyer’s premium is 10%.   Note what forms of payment are accepted and understand that state sales tax will be added to your bill unless you have a current dealer’s resale certificate to present. 

Go to the auction preview to examine the condition of auction items.  The auctioneer may point out the condition of an item but it is the bidder’s responsibility to take advantage of the preview.  Register early to be ready to hear the auctioneer’s comments before the sale begins on how the auction is to be handled.  See if there is a list of the items to be auctioned.  Make notes on the list, marking items that you may wish to bid on. 

The auctioneer will be on the “block”, meaning he is in front of and higher than the crowd.  The clerk works with the auctioneer recording all bids.  If the live auction is combined with an Internet auction, there will also be an Internet administrator.  There are usually spotters that help the auctioneer see everyone that wishes to bid.  A director works with the ground crew and determines the order that items are brought up for sale.  In the Internet/live auction pictures of items up for bid may be projected on a screen for the audience to see.

A good auctioneer wants you to understand what he is saying.   The auctioneer’s chatter is only a series of filler words that join the bid that he has on an item with the bid he is looking for on that same item.  Position yourself so that the auctioneer can easily see you and don’t be tentative about bidding.  Help the auctioneer know when you are bidding.  He is not going to hold you responsible for a bid if you scratch your head.  If a bid is made inadvertently, speak up immediately saying that you were not bidding.  The auction firm may issue you a bid paddle instead of a bid card.  The paddle is usually larger and can help avoid any confusion about bidding. 

It’s a good idea to bring a folding chair in case seating is limited and boxes and packing can help you protect any small treasures on which you might be the successful bidder.  Food might not be available so bringing water and a power bar will keep you going if you find you simply cannot leave the auction until a certain item is offered or you wish to stay to the very end.   Items for auction can be brought up in listed order or randomly brought up.  If items are being brought up randomly, you may be able to request that an item be brought up for auction.

Who knows, you might enjoy the auction experience enough to become a regular!

Logan and Richard Adams are the owners of The Specialists of the South in Panama City, FL.  Richard is an Auctioneer.  They hold auctions in Panama City regularly and also hold Online Auctions.

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