The Great British Bargain Hunt


OK!  You have decided you would like to attend and buy from an Auction room .. So what tips can we give you?

Simple!  before you ever purchase anything, First attend an Auction and get a feel of your surroundings.

Forget the stories of someone buying an object because they "rubbed their eye or scratched their nose" these are utter rubbish.  Auctioneers are skilled people, who can easily spot a bidder compared to someone fidgeting ...if they are the slightest bit unsure they will ask "Is that a bid Sir?" It is very unlikely you will buy anything at auction by mistake.

All auctioneers are different, but all are part showmen.  They react with the crowd and getting to know your auctioneers body language is vital in ensuring that you get yourself the best deal.

Most auction rooms have a base limit (10 to 2) this is the lowest they will sell an item.  However if an auctioneer feels that a certain item is not going to reach, what he thinks is a reasonable value price he may decide not to sell  (He will pass it)

e.g.. Lets us say a vase is estimated at 40 to 50.  Perhaps the Auctioneer will drop as low as 20 to try and get bids happening, But if there is still no interest he will bring the hammer down and pass the item.  If you are interested in this Item you must try to read the auctioneers actions to judge when to start bidding or face losing the item.

Another thing that often happens at my local auction :- the Auctioneer starts the bidding for a pair of vases.

Who will start me at 40  (No bids)

OK!  30 then  (No bids)

20 to get going  (no bids)

10 each then ...suddenly 3 hands shoot up.

A ripple of laughter goes through the crowd, But has the Auctioneer just made a fool of the Bidders.  Think about it!  He had no bids at 20 ...However when offered at 10 for each vase  (20 for the pair)  three people showed an interest.  The auctioneer can now safely start the bidding at 10 for the pair, knowing that people will bid against each other and so raise the selling price  (They eventually sold for 50).

It is not only the auctioneer that it is worth while watching.  Have a good look around the crowd, Dealers are often easy to spot.  Each register buyer is issued with a numbered card ..But dealers often don't have one of these as they are permanently registered as dealers.

Trying to bid against a dealer can cost you a lot of money.  Most dealers want the object to sell on.  So if they think they can sell an object for 100 they will bid up to 70  (Anything over this figure and they are losing their profit margin) This would mean to purchase the object you would have to be prepared to out bid them for say 75 ..Only you can decide if the lot is worth that.

It is worth watching the normal bidders in the sale as well.  if someone starts bidding and they just hold their bidding card up constantly ...You can bet they are pretty determined to buy that item.  If they flick their card up and down, taking time to think between bids, then they might be considering whether they really want to continue with the bid.

At the end of the day ...You are in competition with other bidders, Your body language and actions can tell a lot about your intentions, learning how to read these signs can save you a lot of cash.

The one thing you must learn is to not be afraid or embarrassed to concede and pull out of the bidding.

Ian c Fyvie