How Auctions Work
When you arrive at the auction site you may need to register with the auctioneers in order to obtain a bidding number, the information required is usually your name and address and you may also need to pay a returnable deposit. You should be familiar with the registration requirements for the particular auction before you arrive in case a large deposit is required.
If you have not viewed the lots for auction prior to the auction day you will need to allow yourself time to inspect your prospective purchases before the auction starts if this is allowed, some auctions may not allow you to view the lots other than in the specified viewing dates and times, with some “catalogue” auctions you may not be allowed to view the lots after the auction has started. You should confirm these details with the auctioneers prior to the auction date.
When a lot you are interested in bidding on comes up for sale the auctioneer will announce the lot number ( either found in the catalogue next to the item or placed on the item during the viewing period ) and give a brief description of the item usually tied to the description given in the catalogue.
A starting bid will be suggested by the auctioneer and usually bidding will start below this price so do not assume the auctioneers starting bid is the lowest price available. If the item has a reserve price the auctioneer will often start the bidding above this price and reduce the start bid towards the reserve price until a bid is made. The auction catalogue will usually display a guide price for the item which is above the items reserve price.
You are free to start bidding at any time after the auctioneer has announced the starting bid. Some auctions especially liquidations, bankruptcies and receiverships have no reserve prices so give it a little time before you start your bidding, if there are no other bidders your first bid may be the price you pay.
If similar lots are listed together in the catalogue and you are the buyer of the first lot you may then have the option to purchase the similar lots at the same price as the first. When bidding it is usual to get the auctioneers attention by raising your hand or making some other clear gesture to the auctioneer followed by the amount you wish to bid if different to the auctioneers announced price. Now you have started bidding the auctioneer will return to you every time the bid is against you to see if you wish to raise your offer, a clear shake of the head will indicate to the auctioneer that you do not wish to continue bidding
Bids go up in steps controlled by the auctioneer and until the bid nears the assumed final price a bid of less than this amount will not usually be taken.
If your bid is the final bid and the price reached is above the items reserve price you have been successful in your purchase.
After you have won the bid you will have to pay an immediate deposit, the amount of deposit will be stated in the terms and conditions of the auction catalogue. The type of payment method i.e. cash, bank drafts, credit cards will be stipulated in the catalogue.
The amount of time given to pay fully for the purchase and clear the goods from the auction house will also be given in the catalogue.
Remember it is usual for the goods to be the responsibility of the purchaser after the hammer has fallen.
If the items for auction are large, heavy or difficult to move, representatives of removal companies will usually be present, but this is worth checking with the auctioneers before you make your purchase.
(Information supplied by the National Auctioneers Association)