Buy low, sell high.
It’s an easy rule to remember, but it’s not always so easy to pull off in the real world.
However, people do it every day. Armed with these bidding secrets and strategies, you can become one who is making money.
1. Do Your Homework
Knowledge is power, and in the world of auctions – both online and in person – the most important knowledge to have is of the market. This breaks down two ways.
First, you have to understand the buyers against whom you’ll be competing. If you’re planning to buy at an auction in your local area, you need to attend many before you become an active buyer.
Some who make a living at this have scoped out auctions 10 to 20 times before they became serious about buying.
Be a careful observer. Take notes. Talk to people, and be especially focused on the bidders who are buying the kind of merchandise that you want.
Second, you must understand the resale market for the items you buy at auction. When you’re finally ready to start serious bidding and your intention is to resell whatever you buy, have a full understanding of the market.
Often, people allow their enthusiasm and desire for success to make them overestimate an item’s value. Leave the rose-colored glasses at home.
For example, many people will scroll through listings on eBay to see the prices sellers are asking. However, the key word there is “asking.”
If you use eBay, or any other auction site, for research, be sure you are looking at the prices of completed sales.
You’ll also want to see the relationship between asking prices, completed sales and failed sales.
Scroll through Craigslist to see what people in your area are trying to get for the kind of merchandise you want to resell.
2. Stick to Your Limits
As a corollary to the previous point, determine maximum bids for every item you would like to buy, and stick to those limits.
Understand that auctions are something of a mass psychology experiment, and many bidders get caught up in the “heat of the moment.”
Their pride and desire to “win” kicks in, and they begin to do things they wouldn’t normally do. It can almost be like an addiction, which you’ll understand if you’ve seen any of the cable TV shows about “hoarders.”
When the bid exceeds your “walk away” price, comfort yourself in the knowledge that someone else is getting stuck with an item that won’t turn a profit.
That in itself should be something of a victory for you.
3. Fly Under the Radar
If you’re attending auctions in your area, be friendly and helpful to others.
Don’t try to be the BMOC (big man—or woman—on campus) and make yourself a target for others who might take joy in pushing up the bid on an item just to cause you a little pain.
When you’re new to the game, develop friendships with the “regulars.”
You might help others load their vehicles if you have the time. It will give you a chance to take a closer look at what they have purchased and judge whether or not their purchases were good deals.
You might also find a little “gem” that you can buy at a good price.
4. Know the Ground Rules
Be sure you’ve observed auctions enough to understand how they work. One of the most important things to know is that you must have your funds immediately available.
Remember that auction sales are unconditional. Placing the winning bid is like signing a contract.
Be certain that you have done your due diligence and are aware of the condition of the items you’re bidding on.
5. Understand the Auction World
There are more auctions going on right now than most people know. Priceless antiques, old tools, lots of store-returned merchandise, homes, cars and much more are being sold at auction every day.
Scour the Internet to find good auctions in your neighborhood. Your city, county or state government may hold regular property auctions.
Sites like :
can connect you with virtually any kind of auction.
About the Author
Meg Jones works with CleanTeliigent, makers of janitorial bidding software. It helps win cleaning bids by increasing efficiency and revenue.