“Where did you get those cute lamps?”

“Oh, you have a stainless steel trash can. I love those, but they are so pricey!”

“Your Christmas decorations look so pretty!”

These are comments I hear all the time at my house. My response? “Thanks. I got a great deal at the auction!”

Live auctions are a wonderful place to find bargains, unique items, furniture, and collectibles. They can be a little confusing, and if you aren’t careful, you can end up spending more than you’d like. So here are a couple of pointers on where to find auctions and how to get the best buys when you get there.

There are several different kinds of live auctions. The two most popular are auction houses and on-location auctions.

Auction Houses – Usually run by one auctioneer that takes items on consignment from estates, individuals, and businesses. Most of the time they have a specific schedule, like every Tuesday night.

On-Location Auctions – These include estate sales and real estate auctions that are held on location. A lot of times the auctioneer will just go room to room auctioning items where they sit. Sometimes items are brought out onto the lawn.

How to Find an Auction Near You

  • Check your local paper or classifieds. Most auctioneers advertise their location auctions in the classified and real estate sections.
  • Check out auctionzip.com. Just enter your zip code, and get a calendar of auctions near you.

What to Do When You Get There

Arrive early. You’ll need time to register and get your number or paddle; this is how the auctioneer keeps track of the winning bidder. You can also look around and see all the items up for sale.

Take a pen and paper. There will most likely be boxed lots–lots of goodies grouped together in boxes. These are numbered so you may want to jot down the numbers you are interested in. This way when they come up, you’re ready. You can also keep track of what you bid on and how much you’ve spent so you don’t go over your budget.

Pick your maximum price.  See something you can’t live without? Decide how much you want to spend, and don’t go over it! Remember, most auctions will charge a buyers’ premium anywhere from 2%-10% of the sale price as well as sales tax. That can add quite a bit to your price, so keep that in mind when you are bidding.

Know how to pay. Find out if they take credit cards before you try to pay with plastic. Is there a discount for cash? Make sure  you know so you can be prepared.

Look and touch. See something you like? Don’t be afraid to look it over thoroughly. Most auctions are as is, so if you get it home and it doesn’t function correctly, it wasn’t a great bargain.

Remember there will always be another one. Is someone driving up the price of that fridge you want? Wait a few weeks and there will be another one. Great things show up at auctions all the time.

Don’t bid too quickly. If the auctioneer starts the bidding at $10 and no one bids, he will drop it until someone does. If there is a bidding war going on, wait until it slows down and then chime in.

Know your terms. Looking at real estate or vehicles? Make sure you do your research beforehand and know the terms. How much is due the day of the auction? How long do you have to secure financing, etc?

Find out when large items need to be picked up. If you end up buying a couch and you’re in your Prius, most auctions have an alternate pick up day or a deadline for getting your items. Make sure, before you bid, that if you can’t take it that day you can come another time.

Most of all HAVE FUN!! There are bargains to be had as well as a great time!!

This has been a guest post by Krista from East Liverpool, OH
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