You’ve read the advertisement in the paper. You went through the itemized list of things being sold at a large estate or consignment auction. You’re counting down the last few days until the big dance. You even have your alarm set so you can get up early to get a good breakfast in you before heading out to the site to jig around everyone else. Slow the tempo down a bit or you could end up spending way more money than you should, leaving the dance wondering just what happened.
Farm, estate, and consignment auctions can be valuable places to find and purchase what you need for significant savings if you have discipline. Here are a few things to keep in mind about heading out to the auction with your checkbook in your pocket.
The best advice I can give is to fully understand your needs versus your wants. Being smart doesn’t end when you get your registration number from the cashier. I recommend making a list. Yes, an actual written down list of the things you need on your farm or homestead.
Once you have your list of needs, do a bit of quick research on Craigslist and EBay on what you might pay for those items online. Jot that number down next to the item. Then, next to that number, jot down the amount you won’t exceed for that item. These two numbers give you a frame of reference when the bidding begins. At some auctions, items sell very affordably. Other days, bidding can get emotional between buyers and the price escalates and the auctioneer is only too willing to foster that. You have to know when to stop before the bidding begins. Notice I wrote, “before” the bidding begins.
Get to the auction early and look over all the items on your list and everything else, for that matter. Those things you have an interest in, examine closely and even ask for permission to plug them in, start them up, or try them out. Have a good understanding of the condition of the item. While you are perusing the auction items you might see something not on your list but worthy of your consideration. Make a quick assessment in light of the other needs on your list. It may be a bargain or it may go for too much.
By their nature, auctions are very fluid and things can move along rapidly. This is by intent so that people get caught up in the pace of things and make quick and rash decisions on their bids. Don’t let that happen to you. Keep in mind your maximum and be firm in your thinking. You can be a bit flexible with yourself, but be wise about how flexible. It’s not a good idea to exceed your maximum on all the items on your list. You may have to compromise. If you paid more than you wanted to for an item, maybe you simply give up bidding on another item to make up for it.
Don’t despair if you didn’t win. If there’s one farm auction there’s another. In most regions there are multiple auctions every weekend within a 60-mile drive. You are likely too busy working your property to attend every weekend, but most folks can attend 5-6 each summer. What you didn’t buy at the first action you may find for a better price at the second or third.
When you do win the bid, take out your card that has your buyer number and make a note of the item and your winning bid. I actually use the note application on my smart phone. You’ll want to make sure your list matches the cashier’s when you check out. Additionally, auctions are often attended by those who are looking for people who don’t load up their purchased items right away. They snatch them up and drive off with them without anyone really noticing. You are your own security at an auction. Maintain control of your purchased item at all times.
Now, of course you went to the auction with a way to haul your well-won items home safely and securely. Don’t show up at the auction in your sedan knowing full well you are bidding on that large chest freezer. Some auctions will make provisions for people to come back to the auction site with a trailer or truck, but you do run the risk of the item being damaged or stolen once you leave.
You’ve made it through the day. You’ve danced without stepping on too many toes and you’re pleased that with a little planning and discipline you purchased some of the items you wanted affordably and maybe one or two items you didn’t anticipate because they were a bargain and it was high on your want list. Excellent. Be thankful and work to integrate your new possessions into your life.