Setting yourself up for auction success

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Springtime signals the start of auction season, and auctions can be really fun places to get the things you need (or just want) for your home or farm.

There are some things you can do to set yourself up for success before you head out, though. The first tip may sound like torture to those who get the adrenaline rush from placing a winning bid, but attend some auctions without bidding. It will help you learn the process if you’ve never been to an auction before, and it will help you shake the rust off if it’s been a while.

Make sure you always give the items you’re interested in a thorough inspection before putting your money on the line. For bigger objects – such as tractors or other large equipment – pre-inspection times may be arranged by the auctioneer. If you have a mechanic friend you can bring along, even better!

Another tip: Show up early. This lets you pick out a good position on the bidding floor and it also may give you a leg up if any lots are added or changed. Remember what G.I. Joe said – knowledge is power!

That good position will be important when you’re ready to bid on the lots you’re interested in. You want to be clear and conspicuous when making bids. Call out, put your hand up, flash your bidding card in an obvious manner. Do whatever is effective in calling attention to your bid.

In most auctions, the fall of the hammer concludes the sale. A bidder can withdraw a bid prior to the fall of the hammer but not after; after, a contract of sale has been formed.

However, if the hammer falls and you made a bid but the auctioneer did not see you, you can dispute the sale and ask for bidding to be reopened. The auctioneer doesn’t have to reopen bidding but if others saw you bidding and support your dispute, you might succeed.

And, obviously, make sure you have the end-of-auction logistics worked out. Have the cash or check you need on hand. Know how you’ll be getting the items you’ve won home. This is where communicating with the auctioneer in advance is helpful again – if it’s large equipment, they may offer delivery options or provide you with some wiggle room on when you can pick it up.

Keep an eye on your local newspapers and find out where your local auction houses are. They’ll post advertisements and put up signs to let you know when events are happening.

Good luck and good bidding this spring!

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