Bidding at Auction – My Top Tips To Give You The Winning Edge

Tony Buckwell
November 3, 2021

Over recent years, I've attended so many auctions that I've lost count! 

And during this time, I have probably encountered every bidding strategy there is.

I've examined which strategies can help you win and those that might reduce your chance of achieving your goal.

Whether or not you win at an auction can be strongly influenced by your actions. But, unfortunately, the reality is that for many people bidding at an auction, it's the first time they have been in that environment, and they don't quite know what to expect or what to do.

So, strap yourself in and read on to see my top tips to maximise your chances of being the winning bidder at an auction.

Before I bullet-point you to death, here's the underpinning principle of my guide..

I firmly believe that a bidding competition between several people can be as much about body language and mind games as it is about who has the most money. 

Sure, it helps if you have the biggest budget; however, the reality is that no one knows the size of their competitions bank account anyway. So, the critical thing is to make the other bidders believe you are more committed than them, have more money than them, and that you are willing to outbid them regardless of what they do.

How can you achieve this? The answer to that question lies in the following list. Follow this guide to the letter, and you will increase your chances of success considerably.

  1. What's your budget?: Before the auction starts, decide your maximum budget and be prepared to bid right up to that limit with confidence.
  2. Be seen and heard: Position yourself where the auctioneer can see and hear you easily.
  3. Be first off the mark: Get involved in the auction from the outset. When the auctioneer asks for an opening bid, be the first to raise your hand and call out your offer. Make your bid firmly and confidently. You have now announced to your competition that you are serious about buying this property today.
  4. Be mercilessly persistent: The auctioneer will now call for other bids from the crowd. Be ready for the next step – it is essential. As soon as someone bids against you hit them back with another bid immediately. When I say immediately, what I mean is that the echo of their bid shouldn't have faded away before your voice is announcing your next bid.
  5. Be aggressive: Often, this aggression will catch your competition out, and there may be a delay in their response, but be ready for it when it comes. As soon as your competitor bids again, respond immediately.
  6. Keep it up: Repeat this confident, active bidding style every time someone else bids (remember not to get caught up, however. Always stick to the budget limit you have set for yourself pre-auction).

Things NOT TO DO when bidding:

  1. Don't consult with your partner before bidding or delay in any way. This only signals to your competition that you are feeling the pressure and maybe reaching your limit. Know your strategy before you start and bid confidently.
  2. Don't be the first to reduce the value of the bid. For example, if the bids are going up in $5000 increments, keep bidding in these amounts right to your limit. If you are the first to reduce the bid amount, it is clear to others that you are approaching your buying limit. You don't want them to know this. It will only encourage them to stay in the battle.

My 'twelfth round knockout blow':

If you detect someone you are competing with is running out of energy for the fight, you can do something that will often knock them out of the contest. 

If the bids have been reduced to smaller amounts (say $1000 – $2000), reply with a more substantial bid. 

So, when they bid $2000 to stay in the battle with you, respond with a $5000 bid. No rule says you have to match their bid amount, and it is incredibly disheartening for the other bidder when you force them to dig deeper than they want to. 

You are effectively pushing them faster towards, or beyond, their limit. They may reluctantly try one more small bid to see if you are bluffing (say $1000). Hit them straight away with another $5000! 

Remember, this strategy is still operating under your available budget.

If there is any contingency in your budget, be ready to use it. This is the extra bit that I believe every bidder has talked about before an auction. You don't want to go there but will if you absolutely must to secure your 'dream property.' 

If you have moved into this budget zone, make sure you are the only one that knows. Your bidding technique should continue to be relentless.

What about online auctions?

This strategy is just as relevant in remote, online bidding environment. The only difference is that you should hit the 'bid' button quickly, just as you would have called out your next bid positively and quickly if you were physically present in the auction room.

That's it! 

Follow these few simple tips, and you will give yourself the best chance of success. 

By the way, the first time I saw this method used successfully was at my first auction around 15 years ago. I was the buyer. After winning the auction and signing up the 'Sale & Purchase Agreement' for my new home, the agent representing the bidder I 'went to war with' came and asked me how much further I would have gone. 

I announced to him that I was at my limit and that I would have walked away if his buyer had bid even another $1000. 

He was staggered and let me know that his buyer had another $100,000 available but had given up because of my overwhelming bidding confidence! True story.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and have taken away some valuable tools to give you the best chance for success when bidding at an auction. 

This strategy won't work every time, as you may just come up against someone prepared to spend more than you can afford. What this guide does, is give you the best chance within the budget you have available.

What are your thoughts?

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