In our area auctions have been commonplace for many years so most people have at least some idea what attending one entails. For those who are from areas where public auctions aren’t a regular occurrence, the event can seem a bit intimidating. I hope to provide some insight into what to expect and hopefully provide some helpful tips that even folks who have been to auctions before can find useful.
If you are interested in bidding on the real estate being offered at the auction, most companies will allow you to look at it before the auction date and conduct any inspections you may want to do. It’s not uncommon for a person who is very interested in a home to have a home inspection or appraisal prior to the auction, since the purchase agreement will not be contingent on either of those. Personal property is generally not available for preview prior to auction day. There are several reasons for this, but the most practical one is that most items are boxed for carryout weeks beforehand and won’t be unboxed until the morning of the auction when they are placed on display to be sold.
If you aren’t exactly sure where the auction site is, it doesn’t hurt to drive by the site a few days beforehand to make sure you know where you’re going and how long it will take to get there. It’s also a good opportunity to scout out the parking situation. If you plan on bringing a trailer (for furniture or other large items), you will definitely want to make sure don’t hem yourself in on auction day by pulling into an area that will be difficult to get out of when you’re ready to leave.
Try to arrive at least 30 minutes early if possible. Many people will show up about 20 minutes or less before the auction begins, which can lead to delays in both parking and getting registered. Companies vary in efficiency, but if they have only one person registering bidders then you may be standing in line for several minutes. You will probably need a photo ID or driver’s license in order to register, so have your ID ready to hand to the person registering. They will scan your license and ask for your phone number, then hand you back your ID and a bid card with a bid number on it. At that point you are ready to bid. Valuables such as guns, jewelry, coins, or other small items that cannot be left unattended by auction staff are often sold first. If these are the items you’re coming to bid on, you’ll want to make sure you give yourself enough of a time buffer for any unexpected delays to arrive on time. Another advantage of arriving early is that you will have more time to examine the items being sold and decide if it’s what you’re looking for instead of being forced to make a snap decision when the bidding is under way.
If you are there for a specific item, try to post up in front of or as near as possible to it so the Auctioneer or a member of the crew catching bids can clearly see you. When you want to bid, hold your number up in front of you until the person(s) catching bids sees you and acknowledges it. If you aren’t sure if you have the high bid, ask. If it’s a large crowd or 2 bidders are right next to each other there can be confusion over who has the bid, so if you aren’t sure you should verify before the Auctioneer declares the item sold and moves on.
When the Auctioneer declares the item sold and you are the winning bidder, you are responsible for the well being of that item from then on. If it is fragile or too valuable to leave laying around, either hang on to it or put it somewhere safe. For a large item, you will probably be able to pick it up at your convenience later in the day but be mindful of the fact that leaving it unattended for a length of time may result in someone else thinking it was abandoned. One regular attendee to our auctions has small stickers with his name on them that he places on items when he’s the winning bidder. As a casual attendee, you likely won’t need to go to that much trouble, but if you are purchase numerous items you may want to keep them bunched together off to the side or mark them in some way until you can get them loaded up.
Payment is generally by cash or check, but with the improvement of cellular networks in rural areas the acceptance of credit cards is becoming more common. For personal property the full purchase price is usually due on auction day. Any exceptions to this will be specified to the crowd either in the auction terms or during opening announcements. If you purchase a tract of real estate, you will be required to make a deposit on the day of the auction and will be responsible for paying the balance within the time period specified in the purchase contract.
Auctions provide many different things to many different people. You can furnish your home, add to or round out a collection, buy boxes of stuff that may or may not every be looked through, or just spend a day outdoors enjoying the comradery of fellow attendees.