The Van Trump Report

Time to Freshen Up Your Auction Bidding Strategy

Spring is the start of auction season around our house. Michelle loves looking for auctions to attend and making road trip vacations out of the efforts. I need to admit, I like chasing the auctions as well. In fact, Michelle regularly finds not only the ones she likes but also the ones she knows I will like that have cool things like old trucks, muscle cars, vintage memorabilia, man cave stuff, etc…  In fact the kids make fun of us now, telling us we are getting old because date night and road trips the past several years have revolved around auctions. 

Like almost everything else in my life, I am highly competitive at these auctions. As you can imagine, that drives Michelle nuts! I’ve read books on auction bidding strategies and listened to many professional auctioneers provide their insight about how best to bid and walk away a winner. 

I’ve shared this insight with friends and family before and everyone always says they find it interesting. First, you have to identify if you “Are you a “stealth” bidder, who bids with a wink, a nod or a surreptitious wave? Or do you consider yourself a more aggressive bidder, hoping to scare off the competition? 

Similar questions apply for your online bidding style… Are you a sniper or a squatter? Do you bid online using the same style of bidding that you use at a live auction? When you offer your own online auctions, can you tell where your price will end up by the type of bidders you are attracting? 

Like most everything else in our search for the truth, academia has thoroughly researched these topics and we’re going to have a look at some of their results. (Source: Antique Trader)
Go Big Early! Too many times I’ve tried to get a bargain and let the auctioneer continue to drop the opening bid. That then entices more and more in the audience that they might now be interested and it allows the pool of potential buyers to increase. The problem is when you allow the pool of potential buyers to increase you also increase the odds of it perhaps becoming psychologically personal for one of the opposing bidders. It’s kind of like playing high-stakes poker, there are times when you should raise aggressively just to keep other players from possibly drawing out and making a winning hand late. Similar to this strategy of “Going Big Early” at an auction. For example, If you know you are willing to go as high as $3,000 for an item, there’s no need to let the auctioneer lower the opening bid down to $500 as all that does is attract a bunch of bargain shoppers and you increase the odds of someone taking it personally especially if you are out in a small-town environment. So if it’s something you really want, it’s my opinion that it’s better to Go Big Early in hopes of scaring a few folks off.  

The Sniper Can Steal Some Deals –
It’s the auction equivalent of military sniping. It’s the S.W.A.T. team of auction bidding. When the winning bid in your auction comes from out of nowhere, you have been “sniped”. Bidders never know when a sniper lurks in the background until, in the final few seconds of an auction, the sniper’s bid appears. Most snipers will use a stealth-type style of bidding. Oftentimes you are not even certain where the bid is coming from. Other bidders are rattled up and simply can’t respond fast enough to top the sniped bid. Providing that the sniped bid is the highest, it wins the auction suddenly and aggressively. If they are bidding on an extremely rare or unique item that will not be available at other auctions or sales and multiple bidders are entrusted, and you know you have zero chance of scaring anyone off, then snipe the auction. Set up the snipe with your maximum bid written down so you don’t get sucked into the psychology game when things really heat up in a hurry. You’ll either win it or you won’t.

Fast and Furious – These are the opposite of auction snipers: They enter an auction fairly early and take up residence bidding extremely fast and aggressively. They bid within a second of the previous bid and like to let you know by looking right at you and being well-seen. Most believe this strategy is used in hopes of telling opposing bidders that “they mean business” and are willing to go much much higher if need be. I don’t use this strategy myself but have bid against many who do. I find by really slow-playing the “fast and furious” bidder you can really get inside their head and knock them off their game. In other words, even though you know you are going to go much higher, just to slow the pace and change the game, take the maximum amount of time in between bids and act like you are really thinking about tapping out. The “Fast and Furious” bidders hate this because their entire ploy is to take control. You can really throw this bidder a curveball, which I like to do at times, by dragging your feet and acting like you are going to go out but then at the last second tell the auctioneer to bump it aggressively higher. Rather than letting the auctioneer go to the next bidding increment, jump it four or five notches and see if the “Fast and Furious” bidder flitches.

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