Consumers Are Catching Auction Fever

With over $257 billion in goods and services sold in 2006, more and more consumers are turning to auctions to do business. This spring and summer, thousands of eager and anxious buyers will head outdoors in search of great deals and exciting auctions. Whether it is a real estate auction or a local charity auction, curious consumers continually ask the question: What do I do at an auction?

“There are many misconceptions out there today about auctions that confuse and intimidate buyers. These myths range from the belief that buyers can’t inspect the merchandise before the auction, to cash being the only payment option available to buyers,” said Bill Sheridan, president of the National Auctioneers Association. “By understanding the basics of an auction, buyers will see that auctions are not only a great way to do business, but also a fun and entertaining event.”

Founded in 1949, the National Auctioneers Association represents the interests of over 6,000 Auctioneers in the United States, Canada and across the world. The NAA and its members offer the following tips on “How to Buy at Auction” to bring clarity to the exciting business of auctions.

1. Arrive Early – Plan to arrive before the auction starts to register for a bidder number, review the auction rules, and find a good seat. It is important that you can see the auctioneer and the auctioneer can see you.

2. Inspect the Merchandise – A common misconception is that buyers can’t inspect items they are interested in beforehand. Items sold via auction are generally sold on a “as is, where is” basis. Be sure to inspect and ask the auctioneer and their staff questions.

3. Set a Price – What are you willing to bid? You should have a limit in mind, so you don’t go way over your budget in the heat of the moment.

4. Place Your Bid – Once the auction has begun, you must make contact with the auctioneer or “ringman” in order to make a bid. You can draw their attention by raising your hand or holding up your bidder card. The auctioneer will make eye contact with you, acknowledge your bid, and then immediately seek more bids.

5. Have Fun – Carefully follow the auction and get a feel for who you’re bidding against. Remember, the maximum bid you’re willing to make is just that: a maximum. Don’t jump to your maximum number right away; you might get that item you want for much less.

6. Sold – If no one else bids, the auctioneer will indicate that the item has been sold to you. The auctioneer will need your bidder number to mark your winning bid.

7. Buy – Once the auctioneer and their staff have marked your win, you will go to the clerking table and pay for the item. Check with the auction staff prior to the auction so you know exactly what will be expected of you if you purchase an item (i.e. payment options, delivery of purchased items, etc.).

8. Enjoy – You just had an exciting experience and got a great deal.

Remember: It is important that buyers understand that once they buy the item, they are responsible for it. Buyers are required to pay for all items they purchase prior to leaving the auction, regardless if they are not taking it with them that day.

A 2004 study by Harris Interactive found that 97% of attendees feel auctions are fun and 83% feel auctions are a way to get good values on items. While internet auctions have increased, online auctions are attracting more buyers to live auctions, as opposed to live auctions drawing people to online auctions.

To learn more about the auction industry or how to become an auctioneer, please visit:

Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) represents the interests of almost 6,000 auctioneers in the United States, Canada and across the world. Founded in 1949, the mission of the NAA is to promote the auction method of marketing and enhancing the professionalism of its members. In 2006, the auction industry grew by 7.1% with over $257 billion in goods and services sold. The fastest growing areas of auctions in 2006 were residential real estate (12.5%), commercial real estate (9.3%), and art and antiques (9.0%). To learn more about auctions and the NAA, visit: