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April 02, 2017

Buying at auction can be fun, and smart buyers can get some excellent bargains in the process. Many people think that real estate and antiques are the only items available for sale, but auction goods run the gamut. From salvage cars and used to trucks and motorcycles, you can find virtually anything if you look hard enough.

Once you have located a promising auction, you need to plan your strategy properly. Buying from an auction can be a wonderful way to score a bargain, but only if you are a carefully shopper and an even more careful bidder.

  1. Get an advance listing of the auction items. Make sure the items you want are available before making your bid plans.
  2. Call the sponsoring company the day of the auction. While cancellations are not common, they do happen. Calling ahead can save you a wasted time.
  3. Get to the auction early and have a look around. Get the lay of the land and determine where the items you want are located.
  4. Examine the items carefully. Most auctions give buyers a chance to inspect the items for sale and ask questions of the auction staff.
  5. Write down the lot numbers of all items you are interested in. The same auction can feature many similar items, and it is easy to bid on the wrong lot.
  6. Get a bidder number as soon as you arrive. The line will get longer as the start time approaches.
  7. Read the auction materials carefully and make sure you understand the payment terms and bidding rules. Most auctions charge a buyer fee, and that will increase the total price you pay.
  8. Listen carefully for announcements while at the auction. The auction timeline is not set in stone, and it is not unusual for the auctioneer to sell items in a different order than advertised.
  9. Know how much the items you want are worth on the second hand market. If you are looking at salvage and used cars, check their value in a recent price guide. Compare the cost of items to what such items would cost in a retail store or dealership.
  10. Be sure to account for buyer fee, taxes and other costs when setting your bid limit. Set a firm bid limit and stick to it. Never get caught up in a bidding war.
  11. Make sure you have a way to get transportation items home. Some auctions require that all items be removed the day of the sale, while others give buyers a few days to pick up their items.


These tips can help you get a great deal at your next auto auction. If you are careful, you can get some super deals at local auctions. The key is to know what you are looking for and stick to your pre-assigned bid limits.

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