Going…Going…Gone! How To Spend Your Money Wisely At Auctions

Public Opinion: Auctions are a great place to get deals.

Reality: Auctions are competitions to see who will spend the most money to “win” the bid.

How does that translate to getting a great deal? It doesn’t.

I worked for a traveling auction company for over a decade in the United States and Canada. We held warehouse auctions; hotel auctions; and auctions at estates of art, oriental rugs, home furnishings and jewelry. The people who usually got the best deals were the auctioneers. But I did meet some buyers who knew what they were doing and I’ve tried to pass their tips on through the years.

1) Find out if it is a traveling auction/auctioneer, or a local company. A traveling company will have a higher overhead and have a greater need to make deals. This can be most useful when negotiating after an auction with little bidding.

2) Go to the preview before the auction. This is the best time to use your smartphone or tablet to do research on the pieces you’re interested in. Make your list of first and second choices and your price limit for each. Don’t request these pieces be brought up until right before the auction so you can see if anyone else has shown interest. If there’s a small crowd, many will leave early and you’ll have less competition if your items come up later. Don’t request your second choices be brought up at all. You don’t want them coming up before your first choices. Request them after your first choices have gone up, or wait and see if you can buy them after the auction.