Auctions can be a confusing place to visit if you never been before. The auction house is crowded, the auctioneer speaks fast, cards are flying up into the air, and people are rushing hurriedly up and down aisles with items won. You are sitting in the audience with itchy nose that you are afraid to scratch because you might bid on something. Relax, with a little knowledge you will do fine.
Finding an auction: There are a few ways to find an auction in your area. Newspapers are a great resource. Auctioneers want buyers and will advertise a week or two before the actual date. There are a few websites that list auctions too. One of my favorites is Auctionzip. You enter in your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel, they will give you a calendar of up coming auctions in your area. Other sites include AuctionGuide.com , National Auctioneer’s Association, and Only at Auction.
Prepare for the auction: When you find an auction, read the terms carefully. Most auction houses charge a ‘buyer’s premium’ that range from 5% to 20% on top of what you buy. Also you will have to pay a sales tax if you have one in your state, unless you have a resaler’s ID. Bring a flashlight and a magnifying glass to look closely at the items you are interested in buying. You will also want a pen and notebook to write down your observations and what you are willing to spend.
Preview the auction: Arrive early for the auction. You will have to register and get number. You will need to show a current ID and some auctioneers will require a credit card on file. Get yourself a good seat, some houses fill up fast. Most places allow people to place names on chairs. Take your time looking at items and inspect carefully. Set a price you are willing to pay in your notebook.
Bidding Time: Auctions can last for hours so watch for a while. There is a learning curve to understanding auction chant. Auctioneers usually start off high, no one will bid and they will lower the price. Sometimes the price is lowered several times before someone bids. To bid, raise your card or paddle, then lower it when the auctioneer acknowledges you. Bid increases are usually done with another raise of the card or with an affirmative nod of your head. Remember your maximum bid. It is very easy to get carried away
Checking out: When you are finished buying for the day, it is time to find the bookkeeper. Usually it is the same person who gave you your number. They will tally up how much you owe and print you out a detailed invoice. Some auction houses will give you a discount for cash or checks.
Auctions can be fun and fast-paced.