|Going Once, Going Twice...
Insider tricks to snag a bargain at auction!
We've all seen auction results showing the "steal of the day", that
one car that got sold way under the current market value, and we wonder how the
bidder got so lucky - well perhaps it wasn't luck? It turns out that the secret
to successfully finding a bargain at the auctions is preparation. Here we've
listed the ten smartest things you can do to increase your odds of driving away
the "steal of the day"!
- Pre-register to bid - Now days this is required more and more but
can almost always be done over the internet, phone or via mail. Most larger
auction events require first time bidders to produce a letter from your bank
effectively guaranteeing you have sufficient funds in your account to cover
bids up to a given amount. By pre-registering you don't wait in long lines
and waste time on the day of the auction.
- Don't go alone - Bring a friend with you, ideally a knowledgeable
and objective person. If necessary pay a mechanic to come with you for the
day. It may cost you a few hundred dollars up front, but it could save you
thousands down the road.
- Get there early - Obviously you want to give yourself the
opportunity to view all the cars, ideally at least one full day before they
go under the hammer. Many people don't realize that there may be late
entries that didn't appear in the catalogue and unless you allow plenty of
time to have a good look around you may never know they are there.
- Bring communication devices - Be it cell phones or walkie-talkies,
but set it to 'vibrate' not ring. Usually it's so noisy in the 'bidders pit'
you won't be able to hear the phone ring. On the other hand, if it's an
up-scale event the ring of the telephone may get you thrown out! One great
trick is to place your friend in the 'bidders-pit' with an earpiece, then
you direct him to bid for you from another part of the room. This allows you
to be un-pressured, in control and also able to discreetly view your
- Leave a note - Place a note or business card on the car you are
interested in with your cell phone number on it. The owner may well be on
the field somewhere, and if you can get a chance to speak with them it'll
give you the opportunity to find out more information on the vehicle,
lessening the odds of you wasting your time or buying a mistake.
- Stay near the car - Try to stay near the desired car as much as
possible, identify and eves-drop on other interested parties, and be sure to
be close by shortly before it goes over the block and follow it up. This way
you get to see and hear it run and drive, if only a little way.
- Other auctions - Often different auction companies will do battle
for available buyers in the area and may hold competing events on the same
(or almost the same day) close by. Do your homework, check papers and
magazines or as a last resort, ask at the time about coinciding events. Your
perfect car might just be in a nearby auction other than the one you are
planning to attend.
- Stay late - Some of the best bargains are had late in the day when
the bidders have thinned, many having spent their money and the auctioneers
are tired and want to go home.
- Don't get caught up in the excitement of the moment - This isn't
the time to get your 15 minutes of fame! Stay far enough away from the
auctioneer so he cannot clearly see your face. These guys are experts at
reading expressions and given the opportunity will bleed you dry. Calculate
what you want to pay BEFORE you start bidding and if you reach that limit go
absolutely no higher than 10% more.
- Hidden costs - Find out BEFORE you buy a car what the buyer's
premium and other auction costs will be. Also figure out ahead of time how
you intend to get the car home. In many states, if you can't supply the
auction company with a bill of laden from a shipping company that day, you
will have to pay sales tax in that state before you are allowed to remove
the car from the field.