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How-To Bid at Auction

What do I need to do the day of the auction to participate in the bidding process?

When you arrive at an auction site, read the rules printed or displayed on posters, brochures or handouts. Ask questions if you do not understand a policy. Inspect the property one last time.

In order to bid at an auction, you need to make contact with the auctioneer. To bid, hold up your bid card, your hand or shout "yes." The auctioneer will make eye contact with you, take your bid and immediately turn and seek another bid. You can remove yourself from the bid process at any time by shaking your head 'non' or saying "no" if the auctioneer turns your way. Should an auctioneer misinterpret any of your signals, report the mistake right away.


Attend an Auction Just to Watch

Feel free to just get your feet wet - don't think you have to go to your first auction ready to bid. Attend an auction or two in your area to get a feel for how they are conducted. Watch and listen, then move on to bidding if that makes you comfortable.


About the Auction

"Am I getting a bargain?" is a frequent question. Think of it this way - buyers get exactly what they want, at a cost of only one bid higher than someone else was willing to pay.

Many auctioneers spend some time addressing commonly asked questions and explain how the auction is going to work. Some even conduct pre-auction or practice sessions, or brief tutorials, about the auction process. If you are interested in going to your first auction, check with local auctioneers to see if they offer such a service.

Always remember at an auction to feel free to ask questions if you don't understand something. Auctioneers and their staff want people to continue to come to their auctions, so they will do all they can to encourage repeat business. Ask a question of a member of the auctioneer's team and they will find the answer for you.


Arriving at the Auction

When people arrive at an auction, everyone is encouraged to read the rules printed on or displayed on posters, brochures or handouts. Again, ask questions if you don't understand a policy. Inspect the merchandise you're interested in, as most is auctioned on an "as is"," where is" basis. This means it is not guaranteed.

When you buy an item, you become responsible for it. Also, keep in mind that you'll pay for the items you purchase before you leave the auction, even if you aren't taking everything with you that day.

During the auction, auctioneers stand where they can be easily seen and often use a public address system so the bidders can clearly hear them. An item is selected, described and then bidding is opened.


How to Place a Bid

In order to bid at an auction, you need to make contact with the auctioneer or the ring person. Ring personnel assist the auctioneer in hearing and acknowledging all bids and assures the bids are accurate. A ring person takes bids from the audience and then passes those on to the auctioneer. To bid, hold up your bid card, your hand or shout "yes." The auctioneer or ring person will make eye contact with you, take your bid and immediately turn and seek another bid. You can remove yourself from the process at any time by shaking your head "no" or saying "no" if the auctioneer or ring person turns your way. Should an auctioneer or ring person misinterpret any of your signals, simply report the mistake right away.

As increasing bids are received, the auctioneer's "chant" becomes a series of prices, with filler words to make the chant rhythmic.

When the final bid has been accepted, the buyer will identify himself/herself and the clerk will record the bid. When the buyer is ready to leave, the cashier will receive payment and release the merchandise. Today's modern auctioneer tape records the entire auction to benefit both the buyer and seller.