What Is the Best Strategy for Bidding at an Auction?

What Is the Best Strategy for Bidding at an Auction?

Car auctions can be a good way to get a car at a great price. In fact, every year, millions of cars all over the world go up for auction. Car auctions are the primary way that many professional dealerships attain their vehicles. They’re a good way to save a lot of money, but it is important to show up with a solid strategy to ensure you don’t pay too much.

If you have never purchased a car at an auction, follow these tips from SonicBidder.com when formulating your strategy.

Become familiar with the auction process.

If you have never been to an auto auction, take the time to familiarize yourself with the process. Even if you have gone to other types of auctions, an auto auction can be a different experience. Watch videos of previous auctions and explore our website to become familiar with the types of vehicles that will be up for auction.

It may be a good idea to visit an auto auction without the intention of buying anything to get used to the process before you decide to buy. This can be a good way to get familiar with how an auction is run, how the cars are sold, and learn about the bidding process. Only start to bid on a car once you feel comfortable with the process of an auto auction.

Attend with a friend who has experience.

Find a friend who has experience with auto auctions to attend. Someone with experience with auto auctions can help you avoid many common mistakes and even pass along a few tips.

If you don’t know anyone you can attend with, learn about auto auctions from other sources, such as online videos and guides. Once you feel comfortable with attending in person, find a friend to go with you. Even if that person knows next to nothing about auto auctions, that person can help you by keeping you “on track” regarding your strategy. Of course, you’ll need to choose your auction partner wisely. Avoid people who tend to get overexcited or have strong reactions to winning or losing. The best partners are quiet, level-headed people who are more interested in ensuring you get a good deal than in the auction itself.

Know what you want to bid on in advance.

One of the most important things a person can do before attending an auto auction is to have a clear, well-defined idea of what they want to buy from an upcoming car auction before they show up. Sometimes, it is possible to view the entire lot list (the list of items up for bid) before arriving at the auction. This allows buyers to research the cars that they are interested in. Specifically, it is possible to set up a maximum amount that a bidder is willing to pay for any particular item.

It is very common to see experienced auction attendees arrive with lists of items or a printout of the lot list with notes made in the margins. Reputable auction houses have no issue with customers doing this; in fact, many of them encourage it. Researching what you want to buy beforehand ensures that both the customer and the auction house are happy with the deal.

If you need access to the lot list before the auction, at least have a clear idea of what you’re interested in buying. For example, a person who arrives at the auction simply looking for a “classic car” will likely bid on a lot of items and likely wind up overspending on something when they get caught up in the heat of the moment. Instead, know the make, model, production year, and price range of specific vehicles you’re interested in. If they come up for sale, you’ll be able to bid knowing you’re getting something you want.

Keep track of fees.

Every auction house has transaction fees, and in the case of auto auctions, it is usually on the buyer to take care of local taxes, transfer fees, and tags. Learn about these fees in advance, and factor them in when bidding. Many experienced auction customers will compute how much they’re willing to spend after they pay the necessary fees.

Don’t get carried away.

Of course, this preparation won’t mean anything if you enter the auto auction and get carried away when a car you want comes up for bid. This is one of the most common downfalls of people who are new to the world of auto auctions. Despite hours of research into the year’s car auction calendar and setting limits, if you bid on a vehicle that goes past the limit you’ve set for yourself, you will overspend and likely regret the purchase later.

It’s particularly easy to overspend when there are multiple bidders for an item, especially bidders who are over-enthusiastic themselves. This typically happens when a person decides after the bidding starts that they are willing to spend more than they originally budgeted. New bidders will justify this by telling themselves that a vehicle has more features than they originally thought or that the interest they see in the car at the auction will translate to increased demand outside the auction.

The truth is that bidders who looked at the bid sheet before the auction would already know each item’s features. Intense interest at an auction rarely translates to increased demand outside of the auction. Most experienced bidders understand what an item is worth and have already factored in this demand.

If you’re considering buying a car from an auction, contact us or come and visit one of our live auctions! We love meeting new customers, and we’re excited to introduce you to the exciting world of auto auctions.


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