|Tue Mar 27 2012 11:08:48|
Offline Auction House 101
By: Julia Wilkinson
Have you ever participated in an offline auction? You know the kind, with a real live auctioneer, a room full of people, and antiques, artifacts, and maybe even some regular old junk displayed around the room.
Here are a few pointers for the newbie, condensed from a piece at Worthpoint by John Londoner; and also a few success stories of items bought for a song and parlayed into big bucks on eBay:
- When you get to the auction house, you need to register, so they can assign you a bidder number, which is your unique identifier for the auction and will be shown to the auctioneer should you be the winning bidder of an item.. You'll need a photo ID and a valid credit card that they will keep on file for the auction.
- There is usually an opportunity to preview items, so you should get there within plenty of time to do this. At some auction houses I've been to, the preview is actually the previous day. At others, it's just shortly before the auction. You'll have an opportunity to walk around the auction room and examine items up close. Some book dealers take books that are interested in and bundle them with string, at one house I've been to. You also may be able to preview photos of the items online at the auction house's Web site.
- Auctions can last hours if you stay for the entire show, warns Londoner, "so get comfortable." However, I have also seen people leave once they win the item they wanted.
- Don't be the first to bid. "The auctioneer will start the bidding at a reasonable price but if there are no interested bidders at that level, the auctioneer might drop the bid to entice the floor." Another thing I was told? "Don't bid against yourself." Sounds funny, right? But if you're not aware that no one has officially bid after you, it can happen, especially in this fast-paced environment.
- At the end of the auction, you’ll need pay up with the house. Cash or check is usually preferred. "The house will usually offer a grace period to collect your winnings—sometimes up to two weeks—but be sure to understand their policy regarding pick-up," advises Londoner. Me? I like to walk out of there with my stuff that night!
- The bill includes taxes and the“buyer’s premium," which goes to the house, but is typically no more than 15 percent and is added to your bill.
Now what about the fun? Here are some of the great success stories I've heard from folks over the years:
- Amy Kagey, a perfume bottle enthusiast, found a rare Benoit figural stopper bottle for about $2 in a box lot at an offline auction, and sold it for over $2600 on eBay. She wrote it up for Antique Trader magazine.
- Sandy and her husband went to an estate/farm auction and bought a pallet load of misc. stuff straight out of the house, including six or so cardboard covered bins with food items like sugar and noodles. Inside one they found a Crown Royal bag with several rolls of silver dollars, some uncirculated, and some other coins. "Turned out to be over $1500 dollars worth that we sold to the appraiser!" she said.
- Karen bought a huge lot of quilting books at a local antique/estate auction - at least 250. She got them all for only $66.00, and had already made $800 after selling about 80 books.
Another regular attendee said her strategy is to wait til the end of the auction and bid on the odd box-lots at the end. She's found all kinds of treasures inside, and the other thing is there's less competition, because not everyone can stick it out 'til the end of the auction.
Have you been to an offline auction house, and if so, what have you found? Do you have a success story? Post a comment here!