We recently shared some of our tips for live auction first-timers… but what if you’d prefer to take part in an auction and bid from the comfort of your home? Is that even possible? Yes– yes it is! Through online auctions, you have the ability to view and bid on items from across city (even state) lines that you may not typically be able to go out and view in person beforehand. It is convenient, but you should still do your research beforehand and come to an online auction prepared. Here are some of our tips for online auction beginners.

DO: Reach out and do your research.

With an online auction, you don’t necessarily have the ability to attend a preview or open house to scope out potential items of interest, so make sure you dig in on your own time, and feel free to check out the auction house website for pictures or other item details. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or have questions specific to an item, don’t be afraid to email or contact the auction house beforehand and request any other information, photos from a different angle, etc.  

DO: Find out about shipping, bidding deadlines, and any other potential costs.

What are the estimated shipping costs, in addition to the buyer’s premium and hammer price? Do you have a choice in shipping options (expedited or lower rates)? What is the particular auction house or seller’s buyer’s premium? These added expenses are important to keep in mind when setting your bidding strategy and thinking about how much you’re willing to spend.

DON’T: Be a reckless bidder.

This still applies, even when you’re bidding online! 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! It is easy to get caught up and walk away from your computer for a bit, and just as easy to get carried away in a bidding war, so consider which pieces you really need.

DON’T: Miss important dates and deadlines!

With a live auction, there’s some planning required to keep you on schedule – you have to account for travel time to the auction house and the time you’ll actually spend there, so it’s a little harder to forget about somewhere you have to be in person. Given the convenience of online auctions, it can be easy to forget the day and time bidding begins! Set yourself an alarm or reminder for (1) the day of, (2) when bidding begins, and (3) the time bidding stops. It may also be smart to pay attention to the payment deadlines – do you have to pay immediately after the auction ends? Or is there a 5-10 day grant period? It would be tough to walk away from an auction house without paying, so remind yourself not to walk away from your computer without securing your payment!

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