How to Win an Auction

how to win an auction

If you plan on attending a charity auction or stopping by an estate sale or some other kind of auction, we have some advice for you. Read the following tips to learn how to win an auction.

Live auctions

When it comes to how to win an auction, the work starts before you even get there. If possible, read up and do some research on the items that are up for bid. (Some sources worth consulting are eBay, an appraiser and old auction catalogs). It’s the auctioneer’s job to help sell each item at a high price, so knowing the real value beforehand will help ensure you pay a fair price.

You’ll also want to confirm the preferred method of payment beforehand—some auctions only accept cash or check.

Not an experienced auction goer? Then consider going to an auction or two beforehand to get a feel for how they progress.

Once you’re at the actual auction, take a moment to inspect the items if possible. The last thing you want to do is overpay for an item that is not in good condition.

Speaking of overpaying, take the time to decide on your bid limit for each item. It’s easy to get carried away when the action starts, so decide beforehand the maximum amount you’re willing to part with.

Once the bidding starts, try these strategies:

  • Be very clear when placing a bid. Make sure the auctioneer is aware of your bid by calling it out and/or waving your bidding card. It also helps to sit close to the auctioneer.
  • Consider bidding as a team. If you choose to bid with others as part of a team, be very clear about who will bid and what your collective bid limit is. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently bid against each other or overspend.
  • Consider placing a bottom feeder bid. This is an extremely low bid that is usually issued before the auctioneer even finishes talking about the item. By raising your hand early in the game, you signal to the auctioneer that you will take the item if no one bids higher.
  • Wait until the last possible minute. Placing a bid toward the end when things start to slow down is typically a technique used for big-ticket items.

Silent auctions

A silent auction does not feature an auctioneer. Instead, you submit your bid on a piece of paper. Silent auctions are especially popular at charity fundraisers.

  • First, make your choice(s). Many items might tempt you, but force yourself to choose only a few that you really want to win. Then rank those items so you know where your priorities lie. Also set a hard limit for how much you’re willing to spend. If you’re worried you might overspend, ask a partner or friend to help keep you in line.
  • Consider enlisting a buddy. No one wants to help a competitor, so pick someone who is bidding on different items. You can either inform a buddy of the current high bid or be authorized to write down a bid for them. (Just make sure to confirm their bid limit!)
  • Decide on a strategy. Some people believe in bidding early and often to demonstrate that they mean business. Others believe in waiting until the last minute to place a bid. Which strategy you choose depends on what you believe works and how often you want to visit the bidding table.
  • Go in for the kill. No matter which strategy you choose, the final 15 minutes or so of the auction are critical. Stay close to the bidding table to see if anyone stops by your desired item. Pay a final visit to the bid sheet near the very end of auction.

If you end up placing the winning bid on a pricier item, don’t forget to check in with an Erie Insurance Agent. You may need to look into extra coverage to ensure you’re protected in case it’s ever lost, stolen or damaged.

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