For collectors and bargain hunters, there’s nothing like the excitement of a live auction. Auctions are equal parts sport and shopping. They’re also prime sources for furniture, artwork, and accessories. Learning how to bid at an auction is just one step. If you’re looking for beginner auction tips, read these do’s and don’ts before you bid.
Don’t get into in a bidding war just because you’re feeling competitive. If you get caught up in beating the other bidder, you may end up wishing you’d lost once the auction ends and you’re committed to a high price.
Do pack a folding chair in your car, just in case all the seats are taken by the time you arrive.
Do jump in on the bidding when your item is on the block. Auctions move fast. If you hesitate too long, the hammer may come down before you’ve worked up the courage to bid.
Don’t wait until you’ve won a large item to check on pick-up and delivery options. At some auctions, you’re required to take possession immediately. Others charge storage fees if you can’t take your purchases with you when you leave.
Do attend the preview to inspect the goods before you bid, even if you’ve seen photos in an auction catalog. Make sure it’s possible — and won’t cost too much — to repair damaged pieces. Make note of box lot numbers and contents if you’re planning to bid on them.
Do expect to get the best deals in the afternoon. As early-morning bidders run out of money and energy, you’ll have less competition for the winning bid.
Don’t gasp, exclaim, or show visible excitement during the preview when you find items you want to acquire. You don’t want to announce your intentions to other bidders. You may end up increasing your competition if you call attention to specific pieces. If they didn’t notice your favorites at first glance, don’t give them a reason to go back for a second look.
Do double-check box lot contents on the morning of the auction if the official preview took place on a preceding day. It’s not unheard of for unscrupulous bidders to switch the contents from box to box.
Do register for a bidder’s card as soon as you arrive. You can’t participate without one.
Do wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes, especially if the auction is being held outdoors or in a barn. Dress in layers if there’s no temperature control, and be prepared to walk across muddy or uneven ground.