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Auctions are like a treasure hunt. You can find just about anything ranging from food to cars and furniture. Many times, the items are brand new or returned goods. Other auctions are personal property auctions that individuals have hired auctioneers to sell or filed bankruptcy resulting in their items being sold.

What to Watch For

Ensure that you know if there is a buyer’s premium which is often associated with local auctions – online and live. I’ve seen these premiums as low as 5% and as high at 20%. The buyer’s premium is added after the auction has closed, along with the state sales tax – if applicable. In order to know if you are getting a great deal, you need to calculate the additional costs as well.

You also need to know the pickup or delivery terms and fees. If the item is being shipped, there will be shipping charges based on your location and their location. If not, they will have specific pickup dates and times. To ensure you do not get charged a restocking fee or just lose the money you bid, based on their terms and conditions you need to be sure you are available to pick up your items during the specified pickup times.

One last item you should be aware of is that in some cases, sellers have the option to pull their item from the sale after you have won. This happened to me once and I was really frustrated as I had gotten a great deal and was excited to pick up my items. After looking into it – it’s perfectly legal for sellers to take the option not to sell the item. I was of course not charged what I had bid, but I’d have much rather paid and gotten to pick up my winnings!

Where to Find the Best Deals

Large, online auction sites are so well known you may or may not find the best deals. You are bidding against many more people than you are at local, less known auction companies. I’ve often found much better deals at local auctions, especially the ones that don’t offer shipping.

The playing field is greatly limited if the people bidding against you not only live in the same vicinity, but also are available on the specified pickup days and times. The other thing that works to your advantage by shopping at local auctions is that you can preview the items before you bid and not pay shipping charges.

To find local auctions, simply do an internet search for auctioneers near me. Many of them will have online bidding, if not, they’ll list upcoming auctions, what items are in the specified auction and the date and time of the auction.