T.V. Shows Galore About Auctions

Switch on your  day time TV and the chances are that the programme you are watching will be about an auction.

Are you an avid fan of "Flog it" or watch the Antiques Roadshow or maybe the Antiques Road trip where presenters buy from car boot sales and hope to sell for profit at an auction, with all profits going to a good cause.

If so, you probably have thought about buying at an auction but although you have seen them on the TV you are really not sure what to do


I attend auctions nearly every week and have bought all sorts of items , from china, furniture to large items such as a house. It's not difficult if you just follow a few simple rules.

So How Do I Buy At An Auction?

It is easy to buy at auction, whether it is a "real life" or an online auction on sites such as E Bay. Most people buy at auction to save money because it is often cheaper to buy items at auction. If you go to an auction house there are a few steps that you have to take before you can make your bid.

  • REGISTER -All auction houses will require some details from you. They need to know where you live in case you make the winning bid and then "do a runner" because you have changed your mind and don't want to pay for what you have won!
  • BIDDING NUMBER- When you register you will be given a bidding number, It is important that you show the number to the auctioneer when you make a winning bid. You have to pay for items that are "knocked down" to you. So make sure they are the right ones!
  • VIEWING-It is important to view. Usually viewing takes place the day before a sale or the morning of the sale.It is important to research the viewing times as items are often only available for a limited time. Remember that when you are viewing there are other people also looking at the Lot, so maybe it is a good idea not to look so keen when you see something you really want. During the viewing it is important to check what you are considering buying and if there are any faults in the item. Most articles with faults are marked  in the auctioneer's catalogue as A/F

How To Bid

  • HOW TO BID- If the auctioneer knows you and knows what you like in will look in your direction. However if it is a busy sale or you are a newbie to the house, it is best to attract the auctioneer's attention by a firm raise of the hand, or again a firm nod in the auctioneer's direction. (Waving your catalogue around in the air to gain the auctioneer's attention is liable to gain the approbation of fellow buyers).
  • BIDDING- The auctioneer often opens the bidding at what he thinks is a fair price for the item- or Lot as it is now called. This may be more than you think the item is worth so unless someone else makes a bid, wait and see if the auctioneer lowers the starting price. This does not mean that it will remain at that price. I have been at many an auction where a lot refused at £50, started at £30 and was sold for £70
  • CAUTION- It is so easy to get carried away at an auction. When you have decided what the maximum is that you want to pay: stick to it! You should do your research before the auction starts and have a maximum price in your head- remember any commission that is added on top of this .Don’t get caught in a “bidding war” which occurs when two people get so excited about the bidding that one of them ends up paying a ridiculous price for the Lot because neither of them has noticed how high the price has risen !

  • SALE- If you make the highest bid, the Lot should be knocked down to you. However sometimes the seller will have set a reserve and if your bid did not reach the reserve the item will not be sold. On occasions like this the auctioneer will often approach you afterwards to see if you can raise your bid to reach the reserve. Sometimes Lots don't sell because no one wants them- again - if you have change of heart after the sale, approach the auctioneer and ask if its still for sale.


After the viewing takes place the really hard work begins! At the viewing you will need to take a good look at the item noting any faults and, if it is an electrical appliance, check if it has been PAT tested.- this ensures that the product is safe to use. If the Lot has any faults then it will probably fall to the hammer at a lower price than if it is perfect, but it will depend on the fault and the item. If you are going to bid on a faulty item it is sound practice to check how the fault or damaged condition affects its price you may need to consider how much it will cost to get the item repaired. If you are buying an item that is new check if it has any guarantee as that will affect the value of the item.



  • PAYMENT- Once the lot" has been knocked "down to you, its yours. You have to pay. Often you will be asked to pay in cash, unless there are on line facilities to take payments. Do watch out for surcharges for paying with credit/debit cards. I always take plenty of cash with me.
  • CHARGES- Auction houses charge sellers and buyers commission. At my favourite auction house the commission rate is 15% with taxes on top of that.
  • HOUSES- Payment for houses at auction is different. Normally a deposit of 20% is requested when the hammer drops. During the next 28 days the contracts are produced and signed with completion on the 28th day when the balance is due. It is an important point to remember that unlike buying a house through a private sale/ estate agent, it is not possible to change your mind. These are general conditions. As the amount of your investment is quite considerable I would recommend that you carefully read the terms and conditions in any property auction.



  • REMOVAL- Auction Houses depend on buyers removing their goods as soon as possible. If you are buying something that is breakable take plenty of wrapping material with you. If it is heavy arrange transport but often Auction Houses will arrange transport for a moderate charge.
  • PATIENCE - It may be that you want a specific item. You will probably have to wait and view a number of auctions until you see something you like. At the moment I need a new table for the kitchen, so I keep on looking, one day soon it will turn up!

So, armed with these facts you should be able to go to an auction and make a purchase. It can be a frightening experience and I recommend that you have a few trial bids on low priced items so that you get the feel of how to bid, and that the auctioneer looks you way when the item you are really interested in comes up.

Successful bidding to all!