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How To (Not) Bid At Estate & Online Auctions – Get Rich or Go Broke! – Lesson 1

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Okay. You have seen all the ‘reality’ tv shows and thought ” Hey! I have one of those in my attic! It’s worth $500! Holy crap!” or “Man, that’s so easy. What a better way to make a living than digging ditches or stuck on a cubicle going blind staring at a monitor. Go to a storage locker sale or an estate auction, buy something for fifty bucks and sell it for three hundred. Easy peasy! I can do that! Goodbye Mr. Ogre boss, I’m going to get myself rich, not you!”

Not so fast my entrepenueuring friend. Number one, do NOT believe those so-called reality programs. The values are way off and you will not find a million dollar painting hiding in a storage locker. Sure, it’s happened but the odds are worse than hitting a bazillion dollar lottery with one lone ticket. If you want to try it despite the odds, you’ll need to keep reading and checking back for more lessons.

LESSON ONE

Know your seller!

The vast majority of auctioneer’s are honest and conduct their sales with utmost integrity. Unfortunately, however, there are some that can’t spell honesty much less a word as foreign to them as integrity. As the old idiom goes; one bad apple can spoil the whole truckload of Pippins.

One of the most common acts of thievery is taking phantom bids to run up the price of that mid-century chair you’ve always wanted. In my early auction going career, I found myself bidding against paintings, poles and potpourri pots. What I planned on paying twenty dollars for was suddenly delivered to me by a bald-headed cigar smoker with the winning bid of fifty-five dollars. I’d look around the room to the direction the auctioneer was taking opposing bids from but saw nothing but an old steamer trunk. Not being a paranoid by nature, I figured whoever the back bidder was walked away from the pole that the auctioneer was pointing to as he went back and forth from the pole and myself. It wasn’t until I’d made a few friends at the sales that I was given the skinny. Bob The Barker  was having fun and making a good living off unsuspecting newcomers such as I was.

How to avoid being the subject of such folly? Do NOT bid at the first couple sales you go t. Be observant! Study the auctioneer and where he’s pointing to when taking bids. If you see a painting in the back of the room raising a phantom paddle, go elsewhere. There are plenty of auction houses within a 25 mile radius of most any cities are well populated towns. As noted before, it is only a very small percentage of swindling sellers out to run up your bids. Find another auction house and don’t fret that what you want is not there just yet. Remember, unless its’ a homemade, one of a kind mousetrap, or some such oddity, whatever you’re pining for will come at a sale soon enough. Not only were many made but it’s not unusual to see the same items pop up at different auctions. Many dealers will buy at one sale only to put it in another. Not a strategy I conform with but more than you’d think do.

Aside from hoodwinking hawkers, even the most honest auctioneer cannot know about everything they’re offering. The volume of merchandise from one or multiple estates makes it impossible to recognize every little treasure that goes up for bid. It is your responsibility to know what you’re buying! That can’t be emphasized enough. Caveat emptor! Do not always take the sellers word for rarity or condition. That is ALWAYS your obligation. Preview the sale, inspect every item you’re interested in then study Lesson Two on how to bid!

If it’s online bidding that suits you better, there are ways to know that seller as well. My rule of thumb is ” A seller that offers multiple items of the same category Usually knows what they have”. But, again, not every online seller can know everything there is to know about every item they offer. READ the description! Study the pictures! If either are lacking the information you need to make a responsible buy, don’t bid! Either they don’t know what they’re selling or there’s something wrong that they’re not willing to proclaim. Move on!

Lesson Two, ‘How to Bid And Win’ will be forthcoming. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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Written by boofeeder

February 16, 2015 at 3:32 pm

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