Expectations for Your First Live Auction | Tips for New Bidders

Expectations for Your First Live Auction

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New to the live auction industry?

While auctions are events full of excitement and anticipation for those of us who have been participating in them for a long time, live auctions can be disconcerting if you don’t know what you’re doing. Afterall, you don’t want to accidentally bid on a wrong item, bringing home a beautiful new skid steer or tractor to your suburban home. We’ve compiled a list of tips for beginners heading into their first live auction so that you can know what to expect, feel as comfortable as possible, have a great time, and bring home some fantastic pieces.

First things first: Basic Auction Vocabulary

If you aren’t used to the auction industry, the vocabulary can trip you up! Here are a few common terms that you should know heading into your first auction:

Auctioneer – the person at the front of the room calling out bids and leading the auction

Seller/Consigner – the individual or company that is selling the item through the auction

Lot – an item or items that you bid on, typically distinguished by a lot number

Starting Bid – the minimum dollar amount that you can start bidding at (typically set by the auction company)


Bid Increment – the dollar amount by which you must increase your bid by (Ex. If an item has a starting bid of $10 with a $5 bid increment the next bid will have to be $15 then $20 and so on). These are typically used in online auctions, but it is good for you to know.

Buyer’s Premium – an additional charge added to a final bid that the buyer will pay. This will be indicated for each item and you will be able to know this before bidding.

Proxy Bidding – Some live auctions are both online and live. When there is bidding online, many auction companies will allow individuals to set the maximum that they would be willing to pay and then let a computer do the bidding for them. It’s good to know that there may be people bidding against you that aren’t in the room if the auction you attend is both live and online.

Live Auction Beginners: Understanding Your Expectations

As you head into an auction it can be difficult to know what to expect. We’ve outlined a few things that will help you understand what you’re getting yourself into with live auctions and some tips to make the auction process easier!

Before the Auction

1.Register for the auction

Registering for an auction is how you get to bid! It will give you your bidder number and will make you eligible to participate. Registering beforehand gives you more time to inspect your items once you get there instead of being stuck in line. Register for our auctions here.

2.Decide what you want to bid on

Once you get to an auction you can get swept up in the excitement and decide to bid on things that you never knew you wanted but now you must have! Avoid buyers regret by combing through the items before the auction so that you can decide exactly what you want to bid on. Not only will you have a good idea of everything that is up for auction, you will know what items you are dedicated to and will feel more committed to making sure that you get what you want, instead of hopping in randomly on lots that you don’t care about.

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3.Do your research

Once you’ve determined what you want to buy, do your research. Read all the information that is listed with the lots you are interested in so that you know the condition of the items, where they are located, and what you might need to repair if you do end up as the final bidder. Depending on where the auction will be located and what type of auction it is there will most likely be an inspection period for interested bidders to come take a look at the items. If it’s offered – go! This is a perfect way for you to see the value of an item you are interested in and can help you determine if you still plan to bid on it. If you don’t see anything listed about an inspection, feel free to contact us and we will see if it is possible for you to view items you are interested in before the auction.

Another aspect of researching your items is looking at the buyer fees and conditions for each lot. You will want to make sure that you know what forms of payment will be accepted so that you don’t find yourself unable to pay for your new items. Find out what transporting your winnings looks like as well. In some auctions you are required to take anything you’ve won with you as soon as that auction is complete. Other times you may be able store the item with the auction house until you can arrange for alternate transportation to help you pick it up. You will also want to know what the buyer’s premium for a lot is so that you know how much extra you may find yourself paying if you win. It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the taxes that you may also have to pay on the items. This might be less fun research than picking out what you want to buy, but it will help you from being blindsided and stressed when the hammer comes down and you’re the highest bidder.

At the Auction

4.Get there early

Getting to an auction early give you time to get a feel for the room, understand the atmosphere and get a great spot to bid from. Of course, if the auction you plan to participate in is an event it’s best to follow the seating chart and timeline for the night, you don’t want to show up to a formal event too early – they won’t be ready for you! But it’s best to show up before the auction process starts in case you still have to register, want to inspect your items again (which we recommend) or want to ask additional questions before the fun begins.

4.Know that if you bid, you buy

We all know the phrase ‘If you break it you buy it’ but have you heard of the auction version of that? It’s ‘if you bid, you buy’ meaning that if you start bidding on an item you are committing to purchase it if you are to win. At most auctions once a bid is on the table you are not able to retract it, so when you’re bidding, make sure you know what you are committing to.

6.Be confident but calm when bidding

When you do start bidding you will want to be confident. Otherwise other bidders might see you as an easy drop out and won’t take you seriously. Confidently make bids and counterbids against other bidders to show that you’re in it for the item on the auction block. On the other hand, don’t get to excited or so confident that you blurt out your maximum bid right away. The auctioneer will gradually increase the bid as they go. More and more bidders may fall off before the price gets to your final bid, letting you win your item for less that you planned!

7.Have fun!

Auctions are a great experience and give you the chance to get some incredible items. They are fun events to attend and if it happens to be a charity action, a great chance to give back to your community or an organization. We’ve given you some tips to help navigate a live auction, but all in all they are a blast to participate in. If you have any other questions about participating or even selling in one of our upcoming auctions, contact us here.

Are you ready to take part in an auction? See what live auctions are coming up next!