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What To Do At An Auction
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By Kenny Lindsay 
Certified Auctioneer
First, let me give you a little bit of background on auctions and their popularity.

Did you know that more than half of the population has attended a live auction? In 2004, the value of all goods and services sold at live auction in the U.S. was approximately $202.7 billion. This figure is up 6.8% over 2003 and translates into a huge number of satisfied buyers and sellers of goods.

These figures come from a comprehensive research study commissioned by the National Auctioneers Association. The study as a whole shows that the auction industry is on the rise. More and more consumers are seeing the advantages of buying by the auction method. In addition, consumers find auctions fun because they're a rewarding activity for the whole family to enjoy. On average, consumers are willing to drive 1.3 hours to attend a live auction, with 75% bringing the family when they go.

Here are some of the others reasons why consumers love attending auctions:

  • 83% think auctions are an exciting way to get good deals
  • 51% think they offer a great value on items
  • 65% think auctions offer exciting items they wouldn't otherwise purchase
  • 53% like the excitement of getting a good price

Advantages Of Buying At Auction

So what's so special about auctions? And what's the advantage of buying at auction? Well, there are plenty of advantages.

Speed Of The Process
  • There's no doubt that an auction is the fastest sales process around. It's quick and efficient and that's what makes it attractive. We sell a multitude of items in a short time.

You Set Your Own Price And Establish A Value 
  • You are in control at an auction. You decide when to bid and how much to bid how high or low you want to go.

Certainty Of Knowing What You're Getting
  • Auctioneers deal with a wide range of merchandise. They are educated professionals who know value and price. Many have special certifications in personal property or estate appraisals.

Opportunity For Good Value
  • With the wide array of items up for bid, there's always an opportunity to get a good deal. Sometimes it's a matter of just wearing down those other bidders.

Fun And Excitement
  • There's no doubt that an auction is entertainment at its finest. Crowds of people competing for unique property, combined with that lively and rhythmic auction chant make for some great entertainment and fun. It's an event the whole family can enjoy.

Honesty Of The Transaction
  • Auctions are very organized and the rules are straightforward. Auctioneers who are members of the National Auctioneers Association, as I am, are bound by a code of ethics that protects consumers against unfair auction practices.

When Attending An Auction

Here are some basic tips you should know when attending an auction.

Show Up Early 
  • Arriving early will give you time to get familiar with your surroundings and, most importantly, it will give you time to preview the merchandise or items being sold. You can see the items close up and start planning for which items you will make bids.

Make Sure You Register
  • Anyone who bids must have a bidder number and this can only be secured through registering before the auction begins.

Be Prepared To Bid
  • Bidding is simple. But if you're doing it for the first time, it can be intimidating. Here are some general guidelines:
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Make sure you clearly understand the terms and conditions of the auction before making a bid. (These will be included in the bidder packet you receive when you register.)
What Auctions Should You Attend?

Look for the Michigan Auctioneers Association and National Auctioneers Association Logo
Listen closely to the auctioneer. The auctioneer will determine the increments of bidding. If you are having a bit of trouble understanding the auction chant, plan to listen for a few minutes and get a feel for it before you jump in and begin bidding.
Be sure you make eye contact with the auctioneer when you bid.
The process is fast so if you wish to bid, quickly raise your hand or shout out loud.
How do you find auctions? Well, one easy way is to look through your local newspaper, or better yet, look at our Upcoming Auctions on the American Eagle Auction & Appraisal Company website.

The NAA is a national organization for auctioneers that is focused on promoting the auction method of marketing and advancing the professionalism of its members. In addition to the code of ethics that protects consumers against unfair auction practices, the NAA also focuses on the continued education of its members. They offer a wide range of educational materials and programming that help me to stay abreast of the latest developments in the industry. So remember to look for the NAA logo when looking for an auction- that way you'll be assured of experiencing an auction conducted by a trustworthy and professional auctioneer.

If you are attending an auction right here in the State of Michigan, then it's important that you select a member of the Michigan State Auctioneers Association as these auctioneers follow a strict code of ethics within the Michigan auction industry.

Common Auction Terms

If you're a frequent auction attendee, you're probably familiar with some of the jargon used at auctions. But for those of you who are new to buying at auction, you will want to get familiar with a few of the basic terms which you can find here. 

Now these are just a few of the more commonly used auction terms. Be assured that if you are at an auction and you hear a term or see a process that you don't understand, the auction staff will be more than happy to help you. That's what they do!

We've just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to explaining auctions, and bidding and buying at auction. It's an experience unlike any other and it's a value that we cannot emphasize enough to consumers.

Auctions Are Unique - In Experience, In Sound, In Practice

Many auction attendees find the experience addictive. They report that there isn't nothing quite like the thrill of finding something they want and then bidding against others who want the same thing.

But you don't have to be a seasoned auction attendee to be able to experience the thrill of auctions. Auctioneers across America are glad to welcome new bidders to their auctions. And though almost everyone has heard the old story about the person who attended an auction, scratched his nose and came home with an item he'd not intended to buy, pay no heed to that myth.

"I have yet to see a new auction attendee not have fun at their first auction. It's really a thrilling experience and it's the best way to buy anything " said American Eagle Auction & Appraisal Company, CEO, Kenny Lindsay, CAI, BAS. "Find an auction and get out there for an experience that you will find addicting. "

Feel free to just get your feet wet - don't think you have to go to your first auction ready to bid. Attend an auction or two in your area to get a feel for how they are conducted. Watch and listen, then move on to bidding if that makes you comfortable.

Many auctioneers spend some time addressing commonly asked questions and explaining how the auction is going to work. Some even conduct pre-auction or practice sessions, or brief tutorials, about the auction process. If you're interested in going to your first auction, check with local auctioneers to see if they offer such a service.

Always remember that at an auction there is no problem to ask a question if there is something you do not understand. Auctioneers and their staffs want people to continue to come to their auctions, so they will do all they can to encourage repeat business! Ask a question of a member of the auction team, and they'll find the answer for you.

When you arrive an auction site, register for a bidder number and read the rules printed on or displayed on posters, brochures or handouts. Again, ask questions if you don't understand a policy. Inspect the merchandise you're interested in, as most is auctioned on an "as is, where is" basis. This means it is not guaranteed. When you buy an item, you become responsible for it. And, keep in mind that you'll pay for the items you purchase before you leave the auction, even if you aren't taking everything with you that day.

In order to bid at an auction, you need to make contact with the auctioneer or the ringman. A ringman is someone who takes bids from the audience and then passes those on to the auctioneer.

To bid, hold up your bid card, your hand or shout "yes." The auctioneer or ringman will make eye contact with you, take your bid and immediately turn and seek another bid.

You can remove yourself from the process at any time by shaking your head "no" or saying "no" if the auctioneer or ringman turns your way.

Make it a point to attend an auction and remember to bring the kids and make it a family outing!