The bidding process itself is very exciting.
Perhaps for the newcomer, it’s a bit intimidating too.
It’s still good fun to simply visit interesting auctions without bidding a few times just to observe before jumping into the deep end of the pool, so to speak.
You can choose the bidding options that suit your style and needs:
- In Person: Arrive half an hour before the auction to register. You will be asked to give your name, address, contact numbers etc. and to specify the kind of payment you will use. In return, you will be handed a numbered paddle to bid with and a list of sale items with their lot numbers. You might be better served to not be the first to bid on your chosen item(s). Pacing oneself in not a bad thing here. Also, if no else bids on it, you might get a better price after the sale.
- Live Phone Bid: Leave a list of the lots you want to bid on with an auction-house rep who will be in the room during the auction. You will be called before your lot comes up and the rep will relay the current bid to you and then bid on your behalf. This method is most frequently used for big-ticket items and very often the transport is provide.
- Absentee Bid: You can record your maximum bid with the auction house via, phone fax, e-mail or in person.
You’re In It To Win It, But: There’s a reason the auction house secures your address and payment information before the sale begins. Whoever is offered the winning bid is obligated to buy. No exceptions.
Auction catalog prices are only speculative estimates, partially based on what comparable pieces have sold for at previous auctions. They are guidelines at best. If you have done the recommended homework, researched your items of interest and checked prices for similar items on-line, then the next questions are “what is this item worth to me and at what price will I have buyer’s remorse”. Remember that your winning bid doesn’t include all of the extra fees. There might be buyers’ premiums based on a percentage of the winning bid as well as shipping charges and taxes. Considering all extras, pick your top dollar and mean it. Don’t get caught in a bidding war because of the fever of the moment and the lure of an impulse buy.
All Auctions Are Not Made The Same: Don’t let “caught by surprise” be part of the thrill of your purchase. Be clear about all the rules, regulations, terms, conditions, payment options and sales taxes due for every auction house whose sale you might be attending… before the auction. For example, smaller items might be paid for and taken with you at the end of the event or there might be a waiting period or certain conditions for you to satisfy first. Larger pieces will require arrangements to be made for shipping. Find out what that entails.
Happy Endings: The “grand-daddy of bottom lines” is this: Always shop for quality, because in the end, one really good thing is better than three of “not so much” quality. Or, put more prosaically, if you buy junk, you own junk.
This caveat aside, there is something quite soul satisfying in the adventure of researching, locating, bidding and buying home furnishings at auction. You have provided yourself with access to furniture and objects very much off the beaten path and very often at a bargain price that you were able to name.
This is part of a recent article I wrote for publication on Hamptons.com. It’s represented here as a foundation for further topic discussion, updates and commentaries…
Questions? Write to: Cindy@DecodingDecor.com