08 January 2012

How-To Series: Learning Your Way Around an Auction

 For hubby & me, a Saturday evening outing often includes hitting one of our local auction houses.  It's a fun excursion watching all the interesting characters & beautiful antiques pass through. And the thought of "winning" a treasure creates great anticipation! (I love how we say we "won" an item when in reality we didn't win anything, we bought it!)
 
 That is definitely not us in the above pic!  Don't they look like they are having fun, all dressed up & spending money willy nilly without a care in the world!!!  At auction hubby & I are usually dressed in jeans & a ball cap and keeping up with every penny we spend!  That's the reality of it, my friends! 

country living
I sometimes leave with a van full of goodies; but then I sometimes leave with absolutely nothing (no fun).  And depending on which on auction house you choose, your purchases can be quite profitable or they can be quite expensive.


How many of you know your way around an auction house?  Learning how to auction wisely is mostly science, but having a little intuition definitely can give you the edge.  When I first started in this business, auction houses were intimidating & elusive to me.  It took me years to get enough courage to even go to one!  I thought they were all "Christies" and people would snub their noses at me.  And once I finally got the courage to go, everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing & what to look for.  I, on the other hand, was completely ignorant on the whole topic.  And determined to look like a blue-blooded bidder, I jumped in blindly and ended up making more mistakes than I care to admit.  As time I went along, however, I perservered & learned and eventually acquired enough knowledge to comfortably navigate with the big boys.  It was a great feeling!

Today's post begins a series focused on the ins & outs of auctions.  But be warned, they can be addictive!  Part One will touch on the beginning stages of an auction and prepare you for the exciting part - the bidding!!!
 
STUDY ITEMS UP FOR BID

Most auctions are now listed online and include pictures for you to view prior to the auction.  Auctionzip.com is a great website that many auctions houses use to advertise their upcoming auctions.  Just enter your search criteria and it will It provide you with a comprehensive list of all the auctions taking place on any particular day. 
 Take advantage of the days prior to study their listings as best as possible.  Knowing ahead of time what you are interested in will help keep you focused.

KNOW VALUES AHEAD OF TIME

If you are purchasing for your own personal use, the value of an item is what you are willing to pay to own it.  I will pay more for an item I am keeping than I can pay for an item I am selling.  Either way, it helps if you research ahead of time by going online, to your local retailers, & in books so that you have a value associate with the item you plan to bid on.

HAVE A PRE-SET BUDGET

Self-explanatory, but oh-so very important!  No, really, have a budget set before you begin.  It's too easy to get caught up in the moment, & having a reality check (aka a dollar figure) will help keep you grounded.
 
MAKE A CHECKLIST (ON PAPER OR MENTALLY) OF ITEMS OF INTEREST

I find it particularly important to walk into the auction house with a definitive list in hand.  This does two very important things:  1) it keeps you focused on why your there so that you aren't making purchases you hadn't planned to make, 2) it keeps you focused on why you're there so that you don't forget an item that you wanted to view.

VIEW EACH ITEM TO CHECK FOR DAMAGE, REPAIRS, & REFINISHED SURFACES

All the above mentioned will greatly diminish a piece's value.  I can't stress enough the importance of this step.  To skip it can cost you mucho bucks in the end.  If you can't make the auction in person, it is perfectly acceptable to call the auction house.  They can tell you condition details that may not show up in the photos.  However, I highly recommend you make an attempt to personally view your items if at all possible.  There's nothing like a hands-on inspection.  Look inside for quality construction, look all over for hidden repairs, & look at the finish to determine if it its original or if it has been newly refinished.

I hope you find this helpful and puts you one step closer to being auction savy!  In the next installment, we'll discuss the bidding process.


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