Read these 15 Buying at Auction Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Auction tips and hundreds of other topics.
It's easy to win the bid every time at a bulk auction...just bring more cash than the other guy! Most units go for between $100-$500 (average about $300) and most bidders only bring about $500-$600. You never know what's behind the door; a unit could be filled with collectibles and/or antiques! Be careful and don't advertise to others which unit you are interested in. Just make sure you've got enough money to close the deal with the highest bid if you see a unit you really want.
Be careful with your spelling when searching for auction items. Alternatively, watch for the opportunity a seller's bad spelling can bring to you. If you know of a common misspelling of the item in which you are interested, put that in as a search term. Other buyers may be missing this item because of the bad spelling and you may be able to buy the item for its minimum bid. I once got a great deal on a signed photo of Keven Kostner (Costner)!
Many online auctions will let people simply list the items they wish to sell without verifying the merchandise actually exists or that it is described accurately. Large companies, like eBay, cannot guarantee that every auction participant will keep their promises, so, if possible, check the history and feedback of the seller before you buy.
If you want to scare off your competition as the bidding gets close to your maximum bid, start increasing your bids by $15, $20, $25 or more. In most cases, only the most serious bidders, those who want the piece as much as you do, will stay in the game and continue bidding. If you're lucky, your competition will drop out.
Check out the other bidders. eBay allows you to look at a short term history of other bidders eBay buying habits. Do the other bidders bid low hoping to get items in which no one else is interested? Or, do they bid again at the last minute. If you really want the item, it's wise to know your competition.
Never bid on an item if the shipping and handling fees are not clearly spelled out in the auction listing. That great deal you just got for $4.95 just might have a $20.00 or more S&H fee attached to it. Although it's against the rules, some less than scrupulous sellers make their profit on the S&H, not the actual selling price of the item.
Look for opportunities among naïve sellers. Many sellers are not familiar with the items they are selling at auction. They may not know when they have an item of value and have it listed at a very low minimum without a reserve. Another common mistake that sellers make is putting the item in the wrong category. The true collector may never find it there, making it a great bargain!
Good sources of information, when investigating an auction seller, are the state or local consumer protection agencies and Better Business Bureaus in the state and city where the seller is based. Check with your local agencies and BBBs to obtain the contact information.
Do your research! Know all exactly what you are looking for. Check the listings carefully and don't hesitate to e-mail the seller if you have questions about an item. Remember, the seller may not be an expert on the items she's selling. Search closed auctions for similar items to learn the selling prices.