How to bid on items up for auction

As you have noticed by now, we are working closely with Heritage Auctions for their amazing Spring Luxury Auction. So far, we’ve showed you some of the items up for auction and invited you to our private preview and event. (Seriously, you should come to that, it is going to be awesome!) However, what we haven’t shared is the part that seemingly terrifies most of us, including myself, which is how to buy at auction.

I am sure many of you use eBay or similar sites to buy and sell items, but large auction houses run differently and I feel like an outsider to this world. I took some time to sit down with the team at Heritage to figure out some of the best tips and tricks so that all of us, whether we’re attending the auction itself or bidding via phone or online, can learn more about the auction world. So let’s learn about this together and then we can all bid and win the items of our dreams!

First Steps: Seek out your items

When aiming to buy at auction, your first step is to preview the items available as soon as possible to get an idea of what you would like to bid on (Birkin, anyone?). This can be done in the full, print catalogue (email Luxury@HA.com to have one mailed to you) or online at HA.com/Luxury.

If you have questions about a piece, or want to see more images, you can request a condition report by contacting Heritage.

Set a maximum budget

Once you’ve decided to bid on the object of your desire, you are going to need to set your maximum budget for the item. Whatever your budget, bear in mind that the winner is responsible for a buyer’s premium on the winning bid, which covers administrative fees and auction costs for the item. The buyer’s premium is scaled – you’ll pay 25% on the first $50,000 (minimum of $14), 20% of any amount between $50,000 and $1,000,000, and 12% on any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

Now you know what you want and you know how much you want to spend. Your next step is to choose the way to bid that works for you. You can set a maximum bid prior to the live auction so that you won’t go over the amount of your choosing.

Several ways to submit bids

Before the auction begins you can:

  • Pre-Bid online at www.HA.com/Luxury up to 24 hours before the live auction
  • Pre-Bid via email at Bid@HA.com up to 24 hours before the live auction
  • Pre-Bid via postal mail by filling out a Bid Sheet and including your bids on the lots you are after
  • Pre-Bid via fax by completing your mail Bid Sheet and sending it to (214) 409-1425

The thrill of live auction bidding

Or, if you love the excitement – bid during the live auction! You have the following options:

  • Bid live in person. The auction will be held on Sunday, April 29, at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion at 2 East 79th St in New York City. The auction will begin promptly at noon, arrive early to register!
  • Bid live by phone. This must be set up ahead of time by calling 1-800-872-6467 and asking for phone bidding assistance at least 24 hours before the live auction.
  • Bid live online using Heritage Live! Using this system, you can watch the auction through live video feed and bid in real time against the phone and floor-bidders with just a click of the mouse.

Strategize and be present

Remember, this isn’t eBay, you can’t hover and join in at the last minute. You’ve got to create your plan of attack, strategize and go for it. Maybe once the auction begins, you realize that you’ve got your eye on something that’s being heavily bid on – you’ll want to make sure you are present (or virtually present) during bidding to ensure a win.

Insider tip: If something doesn’t sell during the auction, and you are still interested, contact Heritage. They might be able to score you the item for the low estimate (sometimes less!) without any of the fuss of bidding against others. Sometimes really amazing treasures can be found this way.

Got any more questions? Our friends over at Heritage can help. You can also check out their FAQ page which gets into the details of registering to bid, buying, shipping and so much more.

Don’t forget to join us for the private preview and cocktail hour on April 26th!

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  • mlle p

    I would add that if you are going to bid live at the show, to attend one first just as an observer.  It can be a bit crazy with people, phones, internet all going at once and often very quickly. 

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Megs Mahoney Dusil

       Good advice! This will be my first live show and I’m excited and a little nervous! So many great items I want!!

  • Kemilia

    Paging through the catalogue was so much fun–not everything is starting at 5 figures!

    Megs–this is really going to be a fun experience in person, I’ve only been to country auctions in barns for ratty antique stuff and they were really entertaining. It is so easy to get carried away though.

    • Yashilu Pin

      Got u.  I will do it step by step.

    • Hilary_Sloan

      We are SO excited! The catalogue is gorgeous – a collectors item in itself!

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