On The Square

5 Things To Know Before Bidding in a Live Online Auction

By Bidsquare

Jul 12,2022 | 14:00 EDT

Shopping and bidding in live online auctions is a great way to find modern, antique, and vintage collectors items that you couldn’t otherwise source yourself. Online dealers and auction houses are constantly consigning and stitching together all manner of goods to offer at auction, whether it’s timeless Chanel bags you’re hunting for or fresh home office accutroments - online auctions appeal to all design styles and interest types providing unparalleled variety.

If you’ve always wanted to try bidding in a live online auction, we’re here to help you navigate the basic rules of participation.

How To: Live Auction Bidding Online

1. Save Your Favorite Items

With thousands of furnishings, fashion accessories, artworks and collectibles available to browse on Bidsquare, it’s important not to lose track of something you’re interested in.

We suggest taking advantage of bookmarking items by clicking the 'Add to Favorite’ heart icon located next to each item in our auction catalogs. Once selected, that item will be neatly stored in the ‘My Items’ section of your profile where you can revisit and place absentee bids on them before the live sale.

2. Register to Bid

Be sure to register for the auction ahead of time. While most auction houses allow immediate bidding activity in their sales upon registration, some houses take a bit longer to review and approve users looking to participate. Every online auction requires that users submit a registration form, which is as easy as clicking the green 'Register Now' and 'Complete Registration' buttons enclosed in all of Bidsquare's auction catalogs. 

Another advantage of registering to bid ahead of time is how it enables you to place bids before the live auction and jump-start the competition!

3. Inquire About Your Item

Contact the auction house directly through Bidsquare's online auction catalogs when you click 'Inquire now' - located next to every item. If visible in the 'Condition' section of the item's description, you can also simply click 'Request Condition Report' to recieve more information from the auctioneer.

Learn more about the item you’re looking to bid on. The best way to ensure that you’re satisfied with what you receive in the mail is to make sure you read the catalog descriptions carefully and (if readily available) a more detailed condition report. 

The more images of the item you can view the better. Should you need to request more perspectives, feel free to reach out to the auction house directly by clicking the ‘Inquire now’ icon to receive additional details.

4. Know Your Budget

Don’t get caught off guard! Typically, when bidding online or at any in-person auction, there are additional fees involved in winning and purchasing your item. 

In addition to calculating your shipping costs, you'll likely have to account for an additional fee known as a buyer’s premium. On top of the cost of the hammer (what you win the item for) you can expect to pay an additional percentage owed to the auction house which ranges between 10%-25%. The buyer’s premium can be found in the 'Auction Information’ and ‘Terms & Conditions’ tab of every catalog. Conveniently, when placing absentee bids on Bidsquare, a pop-up price calculator will assist you in quickly totalling the cost of winning your item before you place your bids.

5. Final Sale!

If you win an item and don’t pay for it in a timely manner, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do!

Auction houses allow a grace period to pay for and coordinate the shipment of won items - however, when an item is sold to you during a live or timed auction, that win acts as a binding contract of sale. Refusing to pay for a won auction item can result in the inability to bid in future online auctions. Very, very rarely are their “backsies” for online auction transactions so, make sure you don’t accidentally place winning bids on undesired items!

The whole allure of buying at auction is the thrill of finding things you might have never seen before and winning items that don’t come around often. So, if you do happen to be the high bidder during a sale, celebrate your triumph!

If you've already won an item on Bidsquare, let us know by sharing it on Instagram or FacebookMention @bidsquare and include the #bidsquare hashtag so we can repost your auction score!

Have additional questions about buying at auction? Visit our 'How it Works' page to learn more about bidding live in an online auction. 

The new Bidsquare mobile app is available to download for free in the Apple Store and Google Play. Download it today to bid on the best fine art and antiques.


With new auctions added daily, we're always ripe for the picking. Be sure to check Bidsquare's monthly finds for little bits of wonderful from every catalog. 

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