Spring is here and that means farm auctions should be in full swing. I realize that might not be the case this year with everything happening with COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean now isn’t a good time to learn how to become a better bidder or even learn what to do if you have never gone to an auction. Here are some bidding tips for the next time you go to an auction.

Get a bidding number

This is the first thing you should do whenever you arrive at an auction and while you are getting your bidding number, ask what type of payments they will accept. Some auctioning houses don’t accept credit cards or checks, while some accept both but will charge extra fees for using a credit card. 

Set maximum spend and preview items

If the auction has items pictured online, look through those to make a list of items you are interested in and can look better at when you arrive.

Side tip: Arrive early so you can look at items before the auction starts and to get a good parking spot!

After looking at all of the items, set a maximum amount you are willing to spend on the items, and stick to it. Otherwise, you might get caught up in the bidding and end up paying way more than you wanted or were willing to pay for an item. Setting a limit on what you are willing to spend will also help you to know when to enter the bidding so as not to miss out on an item you are really interested in. 

Dress for the weather

We live in the Midwest and that means the weather changes all the time and the forecast might not be right. Make sure to bring extra layers and rain gear, even if it’s supposed to be 75 degrees and sunny all day. You should also bring a lawn chair just in case all of the seating is taken; then you can pull up a seat anywhere. 

Bring a friend

There are many benefits to bringing someone else with you – they can help you stick to your budgets set on specific items if your willpower is not always the strongest. They can also help you look over items and see problems or positives about an item that you might have missed. An extra body means you can bid on two items at once. Now, I don’t mean bid against each other, but rather if the auction starts running two rings at the same time you can have eyes on both. 

Plan for all day

Auctions can be extremely long, but if you are looking at specific items and are looking for deals, then you need to be there all day. Sometimes you plan to go in the afternoon expecting your items of interest to be sold later in the day and you find out they were sold in the morning. Also, the best deals come in the afternoon and later in the day since the active bidders spent all morning buying items so, hopefully, they are out of energy and money too. Many deals come at the end of the auction as they start to lump items together to get rid of them, so you never know what you might get then. 

Don’t be the first bidder

Patience is key! Auctioneers will try to start bids at what they think the item is worth, so let them start and work their way down to a lower price. Even if they go low enough that you are willing to pay, don’t bid and find out how much of a steal you can get on an item. 

Don’t be intimidated

The crowd really means nothing. You don’t know what items each person is at the auction for or how much they are willing to spend, so even if there are a lot of people don’t be intimidated by it. For all you know, they could all be there for an antique doll collection that you have no interest in for your farm. 

Go to lots of auctions

Going to many auctions will give you a better understanding of what items typically sell for, but also understand that what sells for cheap at one might sell for twice the price at another depending on the buyers. Make sure you are looking at all of the nearby auctions and not just the big auctioning houses nearby if you are serious about finding equipment or tools for cheap. Smaller auctions tend to bring in fewer people and items go for less money. 

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