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Friday, June 03, 2005

Great deals at the auction house

An article about auctioneering today reminded me of what fun an auction can be. You can also get amazing deals. During a professional auction a couple of months ago, I basically sat in my chair wide-eyed for 6 hours, shocked at the incredible deals on antiques and furnishings.

Here's how an auction works:
Many of them are free. Some charge admission. Held at auction houses, they may have auctions once a week, once a month, or variably. When you get there, you will need to register your I.D. to get an auction number. The auction house I frequent is an older business out in the country in an old schoolhouse. They sell cheap sandwiches and lots of fried snacks and ice cream. Everybody goes early to grab their snacks and claim a seat. It's not as intimidating as you might think, but you do need to focus on the auctioneer- they all have their own style. If you want to bid on an item, hold up your number so the auctioneer can see it clearly. There are hand signals that professional or frequent bidders often use to raise a price or designate a lower bid than the caller is requesting. Don't worry about learning these at first. Just hold up your number.

Tips for fun and successful bidding:

  1. Preview- Get a brochure, catalogue or look at the auction web site before hand to see what you're really interested in. Be there when the house opens for the official preview and walk around and write down the specific items, any notes, and the top price you are willing to pay.
  2. Claim your seat early- or you definitely won't get a good one. Many of the seats are actually reserved ahead for professional bidders. Don't be embarrassed to sit at the front- you won't get a good view otherwise.
  3. Hold your number up clearly.
  4. Don't go over your preset limit or you won't get the deal you came for. It's so easy to buy on impulse here. Don't bid for anything you didn't select during your preview.
  5. Make sure you know the terms of the auction. The house usually collects a house percentage (10-15%) on top of each item so make sure you figure that into your preset limit.

They've marked your winning bid on the item, so after you're finished for the day you can check out, pay up, and haul your finds away. You can sometimes arange with the auction house for moving services for an additional price. I didn't buy anything at my last auction, but I still had a great time!

Auctions are fantastic places to get great deals. A lot of the estate auctions around here end up being mostly an antique auction. Estate auctions aren't just for antiques -- tools, kitchenware, lawn fixtures, books, CDs, ... anything you'd own yourself. You can usually get these for a steal compared to new.

Glad I found your blog ... good stuff here!
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