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Live auctions have been around for centuries, and they continue to be a popular way to buy and sell goods. With the rise of online auctions, the world of live auctions has expanded, making it easier for people to participate and find unique items. If you’re new to live auctions, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to know to get started.

What is a Live Auction?

A live auction is a public sale where goods or services are sold to the highest bidder. The auctioneer starts the bidding at a set price and then increases the price until a bidder wins the item. Live auctions can take place in person or online, and they can be held for a variety of items, including antiques, art, real estate, and more.

How Do Live Auctions Work?

Live auctions typically follow a set process:

  • The auctioneer introduces the item and starts the bidding at a set price.
  • Bidders yell, raise their paddles or make a gesture to indicate they are bidding.
  • The auctioneer increases the price until there is only one bidder left.
  • The auctioneer declares the item sold to the highest bidder.

Some auctions may also have a reserve price, which is the minimum price the seller is willing to accept for the item. If the bidding does not reach the reserve price, the item may not be sold.

Types of Live Auctions

There are several types of live auctions, each with its own unique characteristics.

Absolute Auctions

In an absolute auction, the item is sold to the highest bidder regardless of the price. This type of auction is often used for items that are in high demand or have a lot of interest.

Reserve Auctions

As mentioned earlier, reserve auctions have a minimum price that must be met for the item to be sold. If the bidding does not reach the reserve price, the item may be withdrawn from the auction.

Minimum Bid Auctions

In a minimum bid auction, the auctioneer sets a minimum bid for the item, and bidders must meet or exceed that price to participate in the auction.

Online Auctions

Online auctions have become increasingly popular in recent years. They allow bidders to participate in auctions from the comfort of their own home, and they often have a larger selection of items available.

How to Participate in a Live Auction

Participating in a live auction is easy, and there are a few different ways to do it.

In Person

To participate in a live auction in person, you will need to attend the auction at the designated time and location. You will need to register for a bidding number and may be required to pay a deposit before the auction begins.


To participate in an online auction, you will need to register on the auction website and provide a payment method (usually a valid credit card). You can then bid on items in real-time as the auction is taking place.

Absentee Bidding

If you are unable to attend the auction in person or online, you can also submit an absentee bid. This is a maximum bid that you are willing to pay for an item, and the auctioneer will bid on your behalf up to that amount.

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By, Unsplash


Tips for Bidding at a Live Auction

Bidding at a live auction can be an exciting experience, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind to ensure a successful bidding experience.

  • Set a budget: Before the auction begins, decide how much you are willing to spend on an item and stick to that budget.
  • Do your research: Research the items you are interested in before the auction to get an idea of their value.
  • Pay attention to the auctioneer: The auctioneer will often provide important information about the item, so pay attention to their announcements.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions: If you have any questions about an item, don’t hesitate to ask the auctioneer or a staff member.
  • Be confident: When bidding, be confident and make clear gestures to indicate your bids.
  • Know the terms: Familiarize yourself with the auction terms, such as buyer’s premium and sales tax, before bidding.

Auction Terms to Know

There are several terms that are commonly used in live auctions. Here are a few of the most important ones to know:

Buyer’s Premium

A buyer’s premium is an additional fee that is added to the final bid price. This fee is typically a percentage of the final bid and is used to cover the costs of the auction.

Reserve Price

As mentioned earlier, the reserve price is the minimum price that must be met for an item to be sold.

Hammer Price

The hammer price is the final bid price for an item. This is the price that the item is sold for.

Sales Tax

Sales tax is a tax that is added to the final bid price and is paid by the buyer. The amount of sales tax varies depending on the location of the auction.

Live Auctions vs. Online Auctions

While live auctions and online auctions have many similarities, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.


Online auctions offer the convenience of bidding from anywhere with an internet connection. Live auctions require you to be present at the designated time and location.


Online auctions often have a larger selection of items available, as they are not limited by physical space like live auctions.


At a live auction, you have the opportunity to inspect items before bidding. With online auctions, you must rely on photos and descriptions provided by the auctioneer.

Going Once, Going Twice…

Live auctions are a fun and exciting way to buy and sell goods. With the rise of online auctions, it’s easier than ever to participate in live auctions and find unique items. By understanding the different types of auctions, how to participate, and important auction terms, you can confidently bid at live auctions and find great deals.

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