If I buy something at an auction, how do I know what it's worth?
It is a good idea to research what you are going to buy before you even get to the auction. For instance, if you were in the market for a couch, you would check out some furniture stores before you go to the auction. If you don't get to do any research before hand, then you probably will still be ok because whatever something brings at auction is fair market value.
What is a sealed bid? What is a minimum bid?
A sealed bid, or an absentee bid, is a bid that you leave because you can not stay. This is very good for people who can't come to an auction or stay the whole time.
The bid is given to one of the auction employees to bid on that particular item for you. Say you leave a $50 bid on a picture and it goes for $25, then you get it for $25; but if it goes for $60, you don't get it.
A minimum bid, or reserve bid as it is also known, is a set price placed on an item that must be reached before the item can sell. An auction company may in some instances take such a bid from a consignor, but it is usually discouraged.
How do I register at an auction? Do I have to have a business license?
When a person arrives at an auction the cashier or office personnel should be located. Once the office or cashier person is located, then check in with them showing some form of identification. They will then issue a bid number which allows you to bid at the auction that day. In some cases a person may be required to give a letter of credit from a bank in order to register at the auction. At large machine auctions this may be the case. Anyone can go to an auction to buy. They do not have to have a business license.
Can I arrive at an auction late?
A person can arrive at an auction any time and leave at any time. People are encouraged to get to an auction early so they can preview the merchandise which they want to bid on.
What does "Preview" mean?
Preview is the allotted time set by the auction company to allow buyers to come in and look at the merchandise prior to the auction. This may be the day before or set hours on auction day before the auction starts.
If I have something I want to sell, like an antique, do I have to pay a fee?
Yes, when you sell something at auction you usually pay some kind of commission or percentage of what the item sells for. Contact your local auction company to ask them what they charge.
What if I accidentally raise my hand at auction?
If you accidentally raise your hand at auction, nothing should happen, but in some instances the auctioneer may mistake that for a bid. However, this is not likely to happen. If it does, just let the auctioneer know and the auctioneer can reverse the bid, but you must speak up immediately.
What does "times the money" mean?
"Times the money" means you are paying so much PER ITEM for multi-item lot. For instance, if there were ten identical chairs at an auction and the auctioneer sells those chairs together, they are sold "ten times the money". When you are bidding you must remember that you are paying ten times the bid amount. For example, if the bid was $10 you would be paying $100 for those chairs.