my estate auction tips

So today marks my first estate auction for the year 2010. I’m quite excited with the photo previews and most especially with a promise of a grand collection of jadeite wares. I also thought it would be a good time to post a few tips on how to look and act like a pro in an estate auction event. I am in no way a pro, these are just a few that I’ve learned along the way. I hope it will encourage some of you to give it a try. It’s really fun.

Knowledge is power.
And having “internet in your pocket” is even more powerful. In general, it is good to be knowledgeable of the items you want to bid on especially it's market value, unless you just really want an item for home décor but if you are thinking of maybe reselling it in the future you should have an idea of their current value. Having an iphone or other type of internet connection to do a quick research on the item would be really helpful. I don’t have an iphone so I’ll just rely on my good old brain and my notes; luckily some auctions have their own website and list most of the collectible goods on their site a few days before the auction, along with some photos, names, artists, etc. so I could get my research done ahead of time.

Arrive early for the preview.
Try to get to the auction place half an hour to an hour prior to the actual auction schedule. This will give you enough time to inspect the goods closer, look for damage, asses the value, and figure out how much you want to bid on a specific item. This is where you can have your iphone handy to research, just be discreet.

Relax, it’s ok to move.
Don’t fear of making any movement that will be taken as a bid. It’s ok to scratch your nose just as long as you are not gazing intently at the auctioneer’s eyes while he’s doing his chant. Most skilled auctioneers know if you are bidding or not.

Don’t get into a bidding war.
Here’s my strategy. Much like Ebay I learned to not bid and raised my number until almost towards the end of the bidding, by that time earlier bidders think they’re bidding way too much already and may stop bidding so you may end up winning. To me the more you spent time bidding, the more you are invested in an item the more you won’t be able to let go, so you’ll keep bidding until you win it, which is in reality you lost and paid way to much.

Bring something to snack on.
Or have something light to eat before going to the auction. One auction that I go to starts at 6 p.m. and last for several hours and you don’t want to have to leave to get something to eat and missed something or have an empty stomach and get distracted.

Cash is king.
Most places only takes cash, some take credit or debit cards. To make sure you’re taking your stuff home with you, have cash in your wallet. The place I go to takes both cash and debit card.

Drive a big vehicle to the auction.
In case you found and won that antique armoire or dresser that you have been looking for all your life you can take it home with you the same day. Some places do not hold items or some hold it for only a few hours after the auction is finished.

And last but not the least, have fun!

I always experience a vintage adrenaline soon as I walk into the door and see all the goods laid out right in front of me. And no matter how seasoned you are, bidding will almost always give you an adrenaline rush so enjoy it while you can!


  1. Good advice! I've only done a couple of auctions. I've found that knowing what you want to pay is important for maintaining sanity. When I bid on our dining room rug, I was actually shaking. So silly. I had figured out, with tax, what I wanted to pay before the rug came up for bid. When it did I got into a mini bidding war. Knowing my limit was key b/c you can't really make those assessments in the moment.

  2. Really great tips! You make it sound so fun! I need to look into finding an auction house nearby. Can't wait to see what you find this time!

  3. Good post! Thanks for sharing this information I appreciate it. God bless!

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