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Auctions Are Great Fun For the Smart Shopper

Clair Schwan

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Have you ever been to an auction? If not, you're in for an interesting and exciting experience. Auctions are a great place for picking up items at very low prices. They key is to know how auctions work, how to bid to win, and the value of items that are up for sale.

Auctions are a competitive environment, so you could get into a bidding argument with others and end up paying too much. Armed with the right advice and some practical experience, you can avoid this and other potential problems, and snag yourself some excellent bargains.

Here are the basics that a smart shopper needs to know:

  • Auctions are held for a wide range of reasons: downsizing for retirement or a move; court ordered sale; estate sale; closing of a business; liquidation of inventory; seized assets; and, many other reasons. Auctions are held at auction houses, the county courthouse, on location, and over the Internet.
  • Anything and everything is sold at auctions. Vehicles, stamp and coin collections, firearms, hot tubs, clothes, shoes, furniture, dishes, appliances, equipment, homes, land, bedding, tools, books, knick knacks, trailers, fencing, scrap iron, and the list goes on and on.
  • You don't buy things at auctions, you win them. Items are won by offering the highest bid. This means that others will be there and might also bid on the same item you are interested in. The competition makes for an interesting sale, but it can also lead to a higher sale price when two or more individuals are intent on getting the same item.
  • Auctions and auctioneers operate in a similar manner, but it is best to have some experience watching the auction to learn about protocol and auctioneer style before you jump in and bid.
  • The key to being a smart shopper at auctions is to know the value of an item before you bid. If you don't know the value of an item, you'll likely bid too much for it.
  • Auction companies generally make a percentage of the gross receipts, so it is in their best interest to get the highest bid possible for the greatest number of items. Auctioneers will often try to coax you into bidding on an item, so you need to be aware of their persuasive ways.
  • With rare exception, everything at an auction is as-is and where-is, meaning that there are no guarantees on what you buy, and you have to remove items from where they are located.

You need to keep in mind that at most auctions, they are selling someone's used items, so they aren't worth nearly as much as they would be if you purchased them new in a retail store. Examine items carefully so you know their value before bidding on them.

Since an auction is a competitive environment, you might find yourself in an enthusiastic crowd that is bidding considerably higher than the value of things. In these cases, stay out of the bidding argument and just watch the action. You go to an auction for bargains not a financial beating.

If you're knowledgeable about the auction process and you know the value of items you'll be way ahead of the game. Knowing how to bid on items will also help you be a better competitor without paying too much for your treasures.

So, check your local trading paper to find an auction near you. Go ahead and have some fun while you save money on bargains that are up for auction.

Clair Schwan is an expert in frugal living. He lives debt free in Cheyenne, Wyoming and is focused on self-reliant living. See his guidance on auctions and bidding techniques that can help make you a successful participant at your next local auction.


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