Quick Tips! Online Bidding for Beginners

By Jessica Helen Weinberg

In the realm of online auctions, discovery, authenticity and personal style are harmoniously flowing down the same river - the river of accessibility. Now, more than ever, online auctions are rapidly growing to become the preferred method of participation. With online access, one can freely dive into a live sale happening from 2,000 miles away. Items ranging from first edition novels and modern designs to vintage barbie dolls and mid-evil catapults are there for the taking!

However, we do realize that there are some who have not yet charted a raft of their own to happily float down this river of accessibility - perhaps nobody showed them how.

We don’t want you getting hit by unexpected waves. So, before you start fishing for items you love, here are some Bidsquare tips and tools to pack and stow away as we guide you through the unique waters of online bidding.

1. In it to win it! Get registered.

Be sure to register ahead of time. Without sending your information to an auction house, they won't know who you are or be able to approve you to bid during their sale.

On Bidsquare, we partner with auction houses that publish their catalogs weeks ahead of time. You can register and conveniently browse upcoming items while adding them to your Watchlist without feeling rushed. Once approved by the auction house, you are officially ready to bid on auction day. Remember that your bidder number is digital, so no need to wave your paddle at the computer screen.

If you are unable to tune into the live sale, you can leave an absentee bid on Bidsquare that will bid on your behalf during the auction.

2. What do we have here? Learn about your item.

Read the catalog descriptions very carefully. All of the auction houses we work with provide descriptions for each cataloged item. However, if you are looking for specifics that aren't indicated, such as dimensions, dates, a certificate of authenticity or a condition report, you should speak with an auction house specialist directly. Outside research, such as previous auction records and learning about an objects rarity, can help you decide how much you are willing to pay for an item. 

The ability to inquire to a specialist is provided next to each item on Bidsquare - the more you know about an item the happier you will be to win it!

3. Read the fine print! Calculating costs. 

Don't freak out! Buying at auction is not like shopping in a retail store. There are additional costs to be aware of on top of the hammer price (the amount you won an item for).

The first cost is known as the 'buyer's premium' - an additional percentage owed to the auction house conducting the sale. We suggest reading the terms & conditions of each sale and calculating those costs before bidding. It is also normal that you might have to ship your item with a third party, so keep in mind the weight and size of an item, as well as how far the item will be traveling before committing to the purchase.

Many of our online catalogs offer a lower buyer's premium than other platforms. Be on the look out for our blue 'lowest buyer's premium" badge when browsing on Bidsquare!

4. No backsies! Most sales are final. 

If you win and item and don't pay for it, you'll have a lot of explaining to do. Once an item is sold to you, it is a binding contract of sale. When it comes to online or offline auctions, records of non-payment are taken seriously and can prevent you from being approved to bid in the future, should you refuse.

This is where your research comes in. If you know exactly what you're getting, there won't be any need to dispute your winnings. Luckily, we only work with reputable auction houses that sell rare and authentic goods to an an experienced audience of collectors and dealers. So, very rarely to we see any "backsie" business on Bidsquare. 

5. Sold! Show off your winnings in style. 

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

We love seeing where our items end up. Just this year, Alex Kalita of Common Bond Design shared her success story with us in our blog, Make Room: Q & A with Common Bond Design where she beautifully blended contemporary design and her $123.00, Scandinavian antique. 

If you've already won an item on Bidsquare, let us know by sharing it on Instagram or Facebook! Have any additional questions about buying at auction? Click here to visit our 'How it Works' page and learn more about becoming an online auction professional. 

Don't have a Bidsquare account? Sign up here!

Jessica Helen Weinberg | Senior Content Editor at Bidsquare