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Inexpensive Auctions

Auctions...inexpensive auctions, are the most amazing place to find treasures at a fraction of the cost you would pay in stores! There are all different types of  auctions and auctions houses. Some places only deal with specific items, such as cars, or antiques while others are much more general. 

As an antique dealer inexpensive auctions were where I made my bread and butter and I have many happy memories of many beautiful antiques that passed through my hands. 

Possibly my best buy was when I bought several trays of costume jewelry for about $45. It turned out that each piece cost me about $1.17 so my mark up was good when I sold, but one piece I kept for myself. Amongst all the costume jewelry was a pearl necklace that I had appraised at $1500.

Buying at a live auction has a thrill to it that no day at the mall could match but many people are nervous about attending auctions because they don't know the rules and regulations. 

Will they get stuck with a ugly painting because the auctioneer thought they were bidding when they were only scratching their ear? Will every one recognize them as a beginner and will they make a fool out of themselves? Where are the inexpensive auctions held any way? and what will be available to buy? 

There are some amazing deals at inexpensive auctions and that's why antique dealers, bargain hunters and savvy shoppers frequently attend them.  

With a little bit of knowledge you can start attending auctions like a seasoned pro and save a bundle of money.

Different Types of

Inexpensive Auctions

There are many different types of inexpensive  auctions selling almost anything that your heart desires. Antique cars, houses, horses,jewelry, vintage clothes, musical instruments, art and collectibles to name a few.

If they are selling only one type of thing then they are considered a specialty auction, it they are selling a variety of things then they would be a general or mixed lot auction. If they are selling just from one source such as a person's home it would be an estate auction.

There are some auction houses that only deal with one type of items, such as cars or horses. There are other types that have weekly sales where they would be selling general merchandise and then have specialty sale of specific items (such as antiques) four or five times a year. 

In some cases the auction house or venue rents its self out to different auctioneers, so one week you might have Ingrid's Auctions held there and the next week it might be Mike's Auctions.

Estate auctions might be held at the actual estate where people will gather outside the home and everything inside is sold off, or the chattel might all be brought to the auctions house.It can depend on the size of the estate and where the auctioneer thinks they will get the most people to come out and bid. As far as inexpensive auctions go these are my favorites.

Farm auctions are almost always held on the farm and business auctions at the place of business. Stores might hire an auction house to sell off new inventory or self storage units self off the contents of abandoned units.

The goods at a general inexpensive auctions might come from several different sources. If one estate doesn't have enough then it might be two estates together or one estate with add ons. These add ons would be goods of the same quality that people have brought in and want to sell. The whole auction might be made up of different "lots" from a variety of different people. A "lot" is a single item or a group of items that will be bid on. You might hear the term "box lot" which means all the items in the box will go for one bid, or "tray lot" all the items on the tray will go for one bid.

There are some auctioneers that use "pickers" to bring in the goods to auction especially if they are trying to consistently auction off goods of a certain type or quality. "Pickers" are the term used for people in the business that actively seek out antiques at garage sales, rummage sales, and church bazaars at very low prices and either sell them onto antique dealers or sell them at auctions. Some times "pickers" will attend several inexpensive auctions and sell off what they have bought at another auction.

An auction house that deals with a variety of high end goods will announce the dates of their Jewelry, Art Deco or Silver auctions where they are actively seeking people to bring in these items for sale. These auctions might only happen once a year and they are the ones that dealers and collectors put on their calenders to attend.

Auctions are free to the public but very high end auctions or historically important auctions (like the sale of the jewels of the Duchess of Windsor) or ones with large interest ( the Jackie O auction) may issue tickets that you would have to order before hand to guarantee seating.

A specialty auction or a high end auction will have Catalogs for sale. This is a listing of all the items, the number assigned to that item,  a detailed description of the item,  an estimate of what it might sell for at auction and sometimes of photo of the item. These catalogs might be printed out on cheap paper and stapled together or they might be on glossy quality paper with full colour images, it depends on the auction house and what is for auction.

Until recently inexpensive auctions were typically announced in local newspapers but now with the internet you can go on line to find your information. Some sites are for individual auctioneers and some are for all the auctions in that area during a specific time. A good site would have a at least a partial listing of what will be at auction and some photographs. It would give an address and map, the day and time of the preview and the day and the time of the auction. It would also list the buyers premium.

The buyers premium is the percentage you will be charged above and beyond what your bid was for the item. This is one of the ways that the auction house makes its money. If the buyers premium was 10 % and your bid was $10 then you would have to pay $11 plus the applicable taxes.

Never, ever, ever buy something at auctions that you have not personally checked over your self, the auctioneers idea of what good shape is and your will probably be vastly different. You would be doing this during the preview.  There is no time during the actual auction for you to get up and study the goods and it is in some places  forbidden.

All catalogs and auctioneers have disclaimers that it is up to the person buying to check the goods and they will not be responsible for anything. That means if the auctioneer is up there saying,"I think this is really old", you can not complain if it turns out to be a reproduction. It was your responsibility to check.

How to Buy at Inexpensive Auctions

Before the start of the auction you have to register.  There usually is a small booth or office that you would do this at. Registering is when you give information to them that you have the means to pay for what ever you buy (often times it means them taking your drivers license number and a credit card number) and signing a form indicating that. ( If you are going to a house, car or boat auction then contact them to see what their payment requirements are.) They will give you your paddle with a number on it but many times it is no longer a paddle  but a stiff card of paper. Your bid at auction is legally binding so don't bid thinking that you can change your mind.

Once they acept your bid then you have to pay for it. Some country auctions have you pay for your registration, usually about a dollar, but at the end of the day they will hold a 50-50 draw and the winner gets 50% of the registration money. They do this so the crowd will stay right to the end of the auction and there will be more people to bid.

Hold on to your paddle until either the end of the auction or until you are ready to leave then hand it back to the office. It is registered in your name and if some one picks it up after you are gone and decides to start bidding with it you will be responsible.

They won't be able to leave with the goods without paying for them but you don't want to get a phone call the next day telling you that the $3000 hall table you bid on needs to be paid for and that you can pick it up at any time.

So you have chosen  inexpensive auctions to attend, gone to the preview, registered and have your paddle and are ready to bid. Now what.

Again it depends on what type of auction you are at. They can be quiet and quick or  loud and supersonic. Every auctioneer has their own personality and method but the one thing that they all have in common is they want to keep things moving. The more energized the crowd is the more bids happen. 

Some country auctions can be so frenzied that you're not exactly sure what it happening. Decide where you want to be in the crowd, some people only what to be upfront where the auctioneer is, others prefer to be in the back to they can see who is bidding against them. At country auctions they might pass your articles to you when you win a bid or they might take them away and you have to show proof of payment before you can have them. You might notice that some people are getting preferential treatment and that is probably because they are long time, good costumers that have spent a bundle there in the past. 

Pay very close attention to what the auctioneer is saying. If they bring out a tray of 20 glass paper weights you need to know if you are bidding on the whole tray or bidding on "choice". If it is on "choice", if you win the bid, say $10, then you choose which paper weights you want (you choose 8 of them) and each one of them will cost you $10 ($80) plus buyers premium, plus taxes. The remaining tray might be put back on auction as "choice" or as a tray lot. If the auctioneer seems to be bidding against you that is because someone has left a bid with them and they are bidding for that person (the article usually is marked with a sticker). You might win a bid and not get the item if the auctioneer announces "Sorry, the reserve was not meet." That means that the person putting the article for sale stipulated that they would not accept any bids below a certain price.

Try not to  get caught up in auction fever, where you want something no matter what the price is. You go off to an inexpensive auction but start waving your paddle in the air determined to get that object and then realize you just paid three times what it was worth. When you have spotted something you want have a maximum bid in mind that you will pay.

Buying Tricks for Inexpensive Auctions

Don't make it an even number like $100, that is what most people will do, if you decide to go to $105 you are more likely to get it. If you wave across the room to a friend and the auctioneer thinks you're bidding call out that you are not, surprisingly this happens more times than you would believe. Really large items often are the best deals because most people don't have the transportation to get them home.

One of the best buys at inexpensive auctions are items like wall to wall units that often sell for pennies on the dollar.  If you don't have access to a truck then ask the auction house if they have a delivery service or can recommend some one who does. If you only pay $40 for the wall unit then it would be worth paying some one $100 to get it home.

There can be amazing deals at inexpensive auctions and with some careful planning and knowing what you are doing you'll be looking like one of the pros