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How to Win Big on Auctions: Tips and Tricks

Matthew loves finding and sharing creative ways to make money on the side.

The Excitement of Claiming the Winning Bid at the Auction House

If you have never been to an auction, you may be missing out on an exciting new hobby and a great way to earn some extra income on the side. The excitement of watching a bidding war happen or winning the item you have had your eye on can really make for a great experience—and everybody loves to feel like a winner, right?

There are a few tricks to winning big at the auction! Whether you are there for a fun night out or you are looking for a great deal on a specific item, there are a few dos and don'ts to be aware of at your local auction house if you're looking to win big!

6 Tips for Being a Big Winner at the Auction House

  1. Wait for a Lower Price Before You Bid
  2. Eat Before You Go
  3. Don't Get Caught Staring
  4. Try a Box Lot for Fun Mystery Finds
  5. Know What Payment Is Accepted
  6. Flip Your Finds

1. Wait for a Lower Price Before You Bid

You're at the auction to save as much money as possible and get great stuff at a bargain price, so making sure you do not over pay is a big deal in the auction house. The auctioneer will begin the item's starting price fairly high so they can make more money. A big mistake that newcomers often make is jumping on the higher price before it goes down.

Waiting for the price to go down to $1.00 or $2.00 is your best bet. Sometimes that price will stay there and never go up and sometimes it may end up reaching hundreds of dollars. You are there to get a great deal so always wait for the lowest price before you raise your number into the air to make a bid.

You may often find other auction goers, having a bowl of this while enjoying the show!

You may often find other auction goers, having a bowl of this while enjoying the show!

2. Eat Before You Go

Don't forget to eat before you go to the auction. Some places have a concessions stand with coffee, homemade goods and even some crock pot chili's and soups for sale when you get there. Some places do not, however and some do not allow eating or drinking there at all. So it is always a good idea to eat before you go or bring something with you just incase you come down with some huger pains or munchies. Auctions can sometimes last 3 hours or more and on some cases I have found that they can be all day events. Nobody wants to be stuck there starving or have to deal with a hangry bidder or bidding partner!

3. Don't Get Caught Staring

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a newcomer to the auction is getting caught circling around a certain item. Other bidders are probably interested too and will notice you hovering in the area and coming back to the item in interest.

This is a common mistake. When another interested bidder notices this behavior, they take note. Common mistakes like hovering, chatting with your partner about the item, looking the item up for value on your smart phone and pointing & staring will not go in-noticed. Take a step back when you get there and watch others doing this. That way you can find out who you are up against when the bidding begins.

4. Try a Box Lot for Fun Mystery Finds

One of my favorite things to buy at the auction is the box lots. You really never know what you will find in those boxes and with great luck, you can get them at a dollar a piece!

Before the auction starts there is usually a preview period when you can check out the auction goods prior to the sale. This a good opportunity to check out the box lots, just don't get caught digging to deep or for too long. Some one will probably notice and get interested too.

Inside those box lots could be garbage or it could be gold...literally. On several occasions I have paid a dollar for a box lot and found several hundred dollars worth of items inside. I have on rare occasions found gold, silver and other valuables. You just never know what you can find when you buy a mystery box!

Cash, check or credit...you bid it, you buy it!

Cash, check or credit...you bid it, you buy it!

5. Know What Payment Is Accepted

If you are going to bid on something, make sure you have the money to pay for it and make sure you know what types of payment you can use at the auction you are attending. Not every auction you go to will accept credit card or checks, many only accept cold, hard cash as payment.

Don't forget to include sales tax if you are no tax exempt and the classic and common 10% Buyers Premium charged by most auction houses. If you using a credit card to make your purchase, make sure you have the funds on the card and make sure they the auction house doesn't charge an additional convenience fee for paying with credit. I have seen this on multiple occasions and have had to resort to going to an ATM machine to get cash instead. The fees are cheaper in the long run.

6. Flip Your Finds

Making money flipping your awesome auction find is really the main goal of this article, so what options do you have for reaping the rewards from your find? There are many different options here and some work better than others.

eBay and Auction Websites

One of many options is posting the item for sale on auction sites like eBay. It takes some getting used to and requires a little research to learn how to properly post and eventually ship your item. There are also a lot of fees involved. Each time one of your items sells, eBay charges a listing fee and they may charge you additional fees as well, so make sure you know exactly what it will cost you in order to post the item at a profitable price.

Don't forget to include the packing supplies in your total price as well and mark it appropriately for shipping. If you list your auction find with "free shipping" remember now that you will be paying all shipping fees from your own pocket! That decreases the amount of money you make in the end.

Yard Sales

Another great option for reselling your auction find for a profit is to have the traditional yard sale. When box lots are involved, this is a great way to "clean up" and reduce the amount stuff that really isn't worth your effort.

In many cases the box lots you may get will be loaded with what appears to be junk, plates, dishes, kids toys, tools and random stuff. Having a yard sale or garage sale is a great option to make as much as you can back from that dollar mystery box. Sell of all the extra for pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. They add up in the end and the random leftovers of a mystery box can help pay for the purchase and more.

Facebook Marketplace and Let Go!

Posting your item for sale on Facebook is another option which I used quite often when I started auction flipping. I was already using the site anyway and there were several local groups and pages set up for online yard sales. Posting to the market place gave me the option to post the item to multiple groups at once and to be able to arrange for the item to be picked up at a convenient time and place for both me and the buyer.

This is a great option for getting rid of electronics, clothes, games, toys and collectibles. Things like comic books and vintage items also did really well, but nothing is a guarantee and there are fees involved like gas money and your valuable time.

The down side to this is finding the right time and place, buyers that say they will meet you and never show up, as well as lots of low-ball offers. Everyone wants a deal but sometimes the offers can seem unreasonable and have to be turned down. Being that it is selling on Facebook, I have ran into a few cases of drama, so keep it professional and don't chat. You're there to make money, not friends!

Let Go is pretty similar in idea to the Facebook Marketplace but without the drama. Just remember when you set up a deal with someone, arrange to meet them in a public place with cameras or lots of people around for safety purposes. There have been instances where people were set up for a robbery.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.