Humans have been attending auctions for centuries, so you’re likely familiar with the concept—personal and commercial assets and homes sold at a fast pace to the person willing to pay the most. It’s a simple concept that still intimidates some buyers.

Attending an auction is fun and exciting! Here are five tips to help you prepare to attend your first auction.

Find auctions in your area

Online auctions have many benefits for buyers and sellers, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Nothing compares to attending an auction live, shoulder-to-shoulder with other bidders, and feeling the rush of the sale.

Finding auctions near you is easy. The National Auctioneers Association has a great tool that allows you to search auctioneers by location and specialty. Give it a try and see what companies you can connect with on social media or sign up for their newsletters to get the latest sale information.

Some auction websites have popular calendar sites, such as: GoToAuction or AuctionZip. Another useful tool in the search for auctions is the app. While the focus of the app is in estate sales, it also features auctions near you.

Do your research

No matter what type of personal, commercial or residential assets you’re searching for, you need to have a good idea what they’re worth before attending an auction. The last thing you want to do is over bid on an item and experience the dreaded buyer’s remorse.

Many people build up a knowledge about the value of items simply by attending auctions and watching the sale prices. You can also utilize online auctions to gauge general worth, but know that value can vary depending on location.

That said, all the research in the world cannot account for what any specific item might be worth to you. You may be willing to go above and beyond what an item is worth because of its sentimental or intrinsic value. That decision is up to you.

Attend auction previews

Pictures serve a wonderful purpose in life, but they are no substitute for the real thing. Just ask anyone who has visited the Grand Canyon. For this reason, it is important to attend preview when they are offered before attending an auction. Seeing an item or property up for auction with your own eyes gives you peace of mind when it comes time to bid.

Look for any flaws, needed repairs if applicable, or signs of authenticity like maker’s marks. These are typically shown in pre-auction photos, but it never hurts to double check.

Know terms and conditions

Auctions have many terms and conditions, and it is your responsibility to ensure you understand them all. What forms of payment are accepted? Is there a buyer’s premium? Are the items sold as-is, where is? What information is needed to register as a bidder? What are the rules for removal of purchased items? How long do you have to pay for your item and what happens if you don’t? Is your bidder information being given to third parties? What happens if two people have a dispute over who won an item?

All of these questions and more should be answered in an auction companies terms and conditions listed on their website. If you do not see them, ask for them.

Bid with confidence

Once you’ve registered to bid, you’ll be given a numbered bidder card or paddle. This extension of your hand is your signal to the auctioneer of your commitment at any given moment. And don’t worry, scratching your nose or waving at your friend will not likely be considered a bid by an experienced auctioneer or ringman. They’ll be looking for eye contact along with your card or paddle.

Auctioneers begin with an opening bid, which is what they believe a person is likely to offer first. Sometimes there are reserves on items, which means there is a minimum the seller is willing to accept for an item. Depending on the terms and conditions of the auction company, you also have a right to retract your bid before the item is officially sold.

If you are interested in an item, don’t be shy. Auction lots move fast and competition does exist, but that’s also part of the excitement of auctions.

Now that you’ve learned a little more about auctions, it’s time to get out there and attend one! With these tips in mind, you’re ready to enter into the most fast, fun and transparent way to buy and sell anything!

Find an auctioneer near you.

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