Auctioneering Tips

by Jagg Xaxx - Updated September 26, 2017
Success as an auctioneer requires both performing and financial skills.

An auctioneer makes his living by selling items to the highest bidder. Usually, auctioneers sell other people's property on consignment, taking a percentage of the final bid price as payment for their services. Many auctions are social and recreational events as well as venues for selling, and good auctioneers make an effort to make their buyers feel welcomed.

Do Your Homework

A good and experienced auctioneer will know what he is looking at before he sells it. Particularly in the case of antiques, art and other items of potentially high value, a successful auctioneer needs to know the provenance of what he is selling to advise the client as to its value. Items of high value can have a reserve put on them to avoid inadvertently selling them for less than they are worth. Knowing the background and details of items also allows an auctioneer to tell the buying public details about the item, a practice that builds confidence in the auctioneer and helps to increase bids.

Be Picky

Over time, auctioneers and auction houses develop reputations for dealing in certain kinds of merchandise. If an auctioneer deals in too much low quality merchandise, he will begin to be associated with that sort of auction and will tend to attract buyers who don't want to spend as much. When contacted to look at an estate or other collection of objects to be auctioned off, an auctioneer should have a good look at it before agreeing to sell it. There's nothing wrong with including boxes of low priced stuff in an auction, but it should be balanced by quality furniture, art and household goods that go for high prices.

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Move Fast

Part of the fun of being at an auction is watching the auctioneer tear through items one after another. If you linger for too long on each item, you will begin to lose your audience. Many people are at the auction waiting to bid on only one or two items, and if things move to slowly they may give up and go home. A talented auctioneer can go through a couple of lots per minute with the assistance of employees who bring the objects to the front and hold them where buyers can see them.

Stay Upbeat

In auctioneering, as in any field, not every day is a good day. Some auctions will not attract the right buyers, and items will go for low prices. It's important to accept this as part of the field you have decided to enter and avoid taking out your frustrations on the buying audience. An auctioneer who gets petulant because things aren't selling for higher prices will very soon lose the support of his audience, many of whom are there specifically hoping for low prices. A good auctioneer accepts this inherent opposition between the seller and the buyer and does his best within its limitations.

About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.

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