Intrigued by the art of a live auction but never been to one before? Trust us – it’s not all paddles flying and mile-a-minute auctioneers. Whether you’re looking for a home without the hassle of the traditional real estate market or you’re a classic car collector, a public auction can be a great place to find whatever it is you’re looking for at fair market price, or even a great bargain. Auctions are exciting and fast-paced, so make sure you refine your bidding skills beforehand and check out some of our tips for live auction first-timers.

DO: Research payment terms before the day of the auction.

Make sure you have the appropriate payment method – does the auction house accept checks? Credit cards? Cash only? Ask about any potential deposits or extra charges, including the “buyer’s premium.” This is an added fee tacked onto the “hammer price” of the winning bid, which typically covers administrative costs on behalf of the auction house.

DO: Attend a preview or open house before the auction.

This applies for in-person, live auctions (not online auctions!). Even if you have seen photos ahead of time, making a point to attend an in-person preview will ensure you are bidding on quality items. It will allow you to scope out pieces or items of interest, gauge a potential bid, and gauge others’ interest on similar items, so you can set a game plan for the day of the auction.

DON’T: Be a reckless bidder.

The day of an auction this is important, especially for a first-timer. You want to strike a fine balance of making sure to actively bid and bid well on items you are truly interested in, while also making sure to not high-ball a bid that blows your budget right away! Auctions do move fast, so it is easy to get caught up and miss a bid, and just as easy to get carried away in a bidding war, so consider which pieces you really need! Bringing a friend or seasoned auction attendee can help hold you accountable.

DON’T: Wait until you’ve won to figure out how to store or move an item.

For larger items like cars, tractors, appliances, etc. bringing your new purchase home may be easier said than done. Does the auction house require you to take possession immediately, or is there a grace period? Beforehand, you should ask about possible pick-up or delivery options, and if there is any added cost to you.

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