Money Saving Opportunity: Live Auctions

Ever been to one of these?

Don't be nervous about those fast-talking events you think only take place in the movies. With a little practice, you'll even figure out exactly what's taking place. Wouldn't you know that I'm a bit of a live auction junkie? Live auctions have been a serious sort of family entertainment around our home. It's always something exciting to do & a great source of pretty amazing deals. In fact, we have purchased many items at live auctions such as televisions, clothing, tools, dishware, furniture, a few of our vehicles and even houses!

The key to auction-going is being patient for a great deal. As a warning (similar to those of you who frequent yard sales), you tend to want to buy what you don't need just because you find a great price but resist I say resist. Here are a few tips for the first-timer:

  1. Determine what kind of items you are interested in. There are storage auctions, surplus auctions, government auctions, private auctions, etc.

  • Storage auctions are often held at storage facilities after a tenant fails to pay. Some auctioneers sell an entire storage unit, while others sell items one at a time. Often the auctioneer opens the storage door and the bidding begins. You are not allowed to open any boxes or rummage through the items so it's a bit of a treasure hunt. After you bid, you typically have a day or two to empty the unit out. Be sure to bring your own lock since the items are yours right after you win.

  • Surplus auctions are typically held by government agencies like city offices and universities. When technology, government vehicles, or other items are being upgraded, the old stuff is auctioned off to the public.

  • Private auctions are the most common. Private auctioneers may be hired to sell a personal estate, bulk items from department stores, etc.

2. Check the details of the auction

  • A reserve price means that there is a minimum $ amount that the items must bring in while an absolute auction means the items will be sold no matter what the price.

  • A buyers premium (typically 10% or higher) is often added to the purchase price. This covers the costs associated with the execution of the auction like advertising and staffing. For example, if you purchase something for $10 and there is a buyer's premium of 10%, you will pay $11 for the item. Keep this is mind, especially for larger purchases.

3. Research the auctions near you.

You can find local auctions in the classified section of your newspaper (often in the weekend editions). Many local auctions are also advertised on Type in your zip code to see what's nearby, but check back frequently since this changes often.

4. Be adventurous & find a great deal!

Don't be alarmed if you go to an auction and don't like it. As with everything else, every auction is unique and some are much better than others. Some auctioneers have a great personality, others are dry; some auctions seem to run smoothly, others poorly organized; some have many attendees, some fewer. Be adventurous and flexible & you'll be sure to snag a great deal.

If you've had great success at live auctions or have a comment after you try one, we'd love to hear about it...