Get the most out of bidding at auction

For many people, buying at an auction is a sometimes nervous but usually exciting experience. There are lots of people, lots of noise and the auctioneer seems to go so fast! You are poised anxiously awaiting the item you want to be offered in numerical sequence, and suddenly it’s on! Like a race starting, people around you raising their hands or calling out to bid, the internet bidders making their presence felt with a loud “beep”, maybe a bidder on the phone instructing an auction room staff member and the auctioneer calmly and quickly picking up the bids one after the other until the hammer is brought down to signal that the highest bidder has won…..and that exciting and relieved feeling that comes when you know it was your bid that won the item! Even seasoned auction goers find it hard to resist the adrenaline rush of bidding at a public auction.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your auction and to maximise your chances of winning the items (auction lots) that you want to bid on.

Firstly, at Abbeys Auctions we use a number system to identify bidders and record purchases. Before you start bidding you will need to register with us by providing some identification and contact details and we will issue you with a bidding number printed onto a bidding card. If you are a casual visitor to our auction rooms, you will be issued with a new number for every visit. If you register online via the Abbeys Auctions website we’ll give you a log-on password and permanent bidding number that you can use anywhere in the Abbeys network – whether you are bidding online, on the phone, in person in the auction rooms or through an absentee bid.

Once you’ve registered, its a good idea to also check out the auction terms and conditions displayed at the auction rooms or on the website – there are often slight variation between different auction houses so make sure that you are familiar with how it works.

Secondly, carefully inspect the lots. With between 600 and 1000 lots unpacked and prepared at Abbeys every week, as much as we are very careful in preparing for the auction, we don’t have time to inspect every item in detail. Most goods sold at Abbeys Auctions are pre-loved. The descriptions provided are given in good faith, but may not capture all of the relevant information or specific faults. The responsibility sits with you, the buyer, to have a good look at the lot and test it so that you know exactly what you’re bidding for.

On viewing day things can be inspected and tested. Just ask one of our team members to assist you with cabinet items, or things that need to be plugged in or moved so that you can get a good look at them. If you are not able to attend the auction to view, then call us on viewing day and we can provide a condition report and additional photos if need be. There is no warranty or return on most auction items, so you should make sure that you know what you’re buying.

Thirdly, plan your bidding in advance. The beauty of a public auction is that the prices are usually well below what you’d expect to pay at retail if the item was new. Goods sold at public auctions are generally sold on behalf of different sellers (vendors) and the auction house receives its payment in the form of a commission from both the buyer and the vendor. Most auctions have a Buyers Premium which is the commission that a buyer pays to the auction house. The buyers premium is added to the hammer price after the bidding is concluded. At Abbeys Auctions the buyers premium is 18%, which means for example, that if you bid $100 for a lot then the amount you will pay will be $118. Its a great idea to set yourself a bidding limit before you start bidding on a lot – that way you won’t get carried away with the excitement of the moment and potentially bid too much for your lot. When you are working out your bidding limit, make sure that you consider the additional buyers premium.

The actual prices at an auction reflect the amounts that the bidders in the room are prepared to pay on the day. Most items are sold without a reserve price, which means they will go to the highest bidder. If the bidding in the room falls below what the auctioneer feels is a reasonable market price, or if it is less that the reserve price set by the vendor, then the auctioneer can choose to “pass in” the item and it remains unsold.  If an item is passed in, then you are able to make an offer to buy the item after the auction. If you do buy a lot after auction it will still be under auction conditions and the buyers premium will be added to your offer price.

So now that you’ve registered and planned your bidding strategy, the next step is to position yourself where you can be seen clearly by the auctioneer. For people in the room this means sitting or standing in the auctioneers direct line of vision – don’t expect to be seen if you’re hanging at the back behind some furniture or around the corner in another room.

For bidders online and also those in the room – be sure to make a bid early for the item so that the auctioneer can identify that you are interested in the lot. That way the auctioneer will look to you and allow time for you to bid. Sometimes there may be a lag online due to slower internet connections – if the auctioneer knows there is an online bidder for a lot, they will be able to wait a little longer to compensate for any online delays. If the auctioneer sees that there are only in-room bidders for a particular lot, then they’ll close the bidding quite quickly once they know that the in-room bidders have finished.  If you leave it until the very last minute to make your first bid on a lot, then there’s a chance you may miss out!

Once you’ve won a lot, you will need to show your bidding number to the auctioneer. The bid price (also known as the hammer price) is recorded onto the auctioneer’s sheet together with your bidding number. For online bidders, your number is recorded at the time of your bid and if you’re the winning bidder you will receive a confirmation message on the screen as well as a confirmation email at the end of the auction. The auctioneer’s sheets are then taken to the office to be recorded in the auction system and once this is done you are usually free to pay for your purchases and take them with you.

Allow 10-20 minutes during busy auctions for the buyer records to be updated, then head down to reception to make your payment and obtain a tax invoice showing the payment receipt.

When it’s time to remove your lot from the auction room, always seek the assistance of an Abbeys team member. You will be asked to show your payment receipt. This will ensure that you get the correct items and that any heavy or fragile items can be safely moved out of the way without damage or danger to you or others. We can also help you load your truck or car.

Finally, and probably most importantly, enjoy your purchases!!  Buying at auction is a great way to get high quality goods at bargain prices and for many there’s no going back to conventional retail once the treasures of an auction room have been discovered.

Abbeys Auctions is located in Box Hill, Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. We’ve been operating since 1969 so our team has a wealth of knowledge to share with with our customers.
If you’d like to know more about auctions, please check out our website, or call us on 03 98982118 and we will be happy to assist.

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