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Can (and Should) You Buy Furniture at Auction?

Shopping for furniture at an auction can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never attended one. 

After all, you don’t want to make any costly mistakes. While you can score signature pieces at rock-bottom prices, it’s possible for it to go all wrong. 

Today, we’re bringing you all the tips for buying at auction so you don’t get more than you bargained for.

Let’s start bidding!

A vintage armchair. Is it a good idea to buy furniture at an auction?
Is it a good idea to buy furniture at an auction?

How Do Auctions Work?

Auctions date back millennia, with roots in the fifth century. Babylonians would bid on women slated to become their future wives. 

Although you won’t find humans on offer these days, the tradition continues. You can purchase just about anything from auctions, including real estate, whole businesses, fine art, and furniture. 

Both buyers and sellers can benefit from these sales. You might snag rare treasures, high-end artwork, and valuable jewelry at a reasonable price. On the other hand, competitive bidding can be a windfall for those hawking their wares. 

Two primary types of auctions exist for folks to exchange goods. In open events, bidders are aware of other offers. However, closed auctions keep all submissions under wraps. 

Some sales are live. You might go in person or place bids over the phone while it takes place in real-time. 

It isn’t uncommon for big spenders to send a representative to make offers on valuable pieces. Auctioneers only display one item at any given time, and bids are accepted until they reach the highest proposal.

Online auctions have risen in popularity over the years. eBay was the first of its kind to appear on the Internet. However, most sellers have a Web presence today. Typically during these sales, you can place bids until a specified time. 

Top Reasons to Buy Furniture at an Auction

While you could go to your nearest furniture store to buy a factory-made piece, it may be more fun to try your luck at an auction. Here are a few reasons to consider taking this less-than-ordinary approach the next time you want to freshen up your home.

You Can Get a Great Deal on Furniture at an Auction

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s possible to get an excellent deal on items at auction. Unlike retail outlets and second-hand stores, there’s no sticker price. When an object hits the stand, it typically starts at a reasonable baseline cost. 

After that, the winning amount comes down to who else happens to be participating. If fate is on your side, you can get exactly what you’re looking for at a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere. 

If that’s not a sweet enough deal, just know you’ll also save lots of time by attending online auctions. Sign up for a few sites and check in periodically to see if anything catches your eye.

Will you be in the North Carolina area? Find out: Is Brunk Auction House in Asheville Worth the Trip?

Buying Furniture at an Auction Is Environmentally Friendly

It’s no secret that mass-produced goods are taking a toll on the environment. In fact, the carbon footprint of furniture produced today is 16 times higher than that of antiques. To add insult to injury, the quality of that new dresser from a big box store can’t compare to one from the past. Not even close.

When you purchase heirloom furniture from an auction, you can bid with confidence knowing it’s already withstood the test of time. Most of these items include high-quality materials, and many have been passed down through generations.

You Can Find Unique Treasures

Perhaps the best part of buying furniture at auction is the thrill of the hunt. You never know what you might discover.

Because crafters made vintage furniture in smaller quantities, it’s safe to say fewer of those pieces exist today. You can find one-of-a-kind items you didn’t even know you were missing. 

After all, many of us have a wacky family member with some kind of weird collection. Well, imagine if all those eccentric folks put their things up for sale. We’d have a good time looking through that type of sale! 

Between the novelty and the craftsmanship, you’ll discover a lot to love about this experience. 

Check out this auction house if you’re in Georgia: What Is King Galleries Auction House Near Atlanta?

Tips for Buying Furniture at an Auction

Seasoned auction hunters know there’s a method to the madness. You can’t just walk in unprepared and expect to strike it big. 

For starters, brush up on the rules, regulations, and conditions of the event you’ll attend. Sales tax and payment options vary between vendors, so you’ll want to know the basics.

One of the best tips we can offer is to do your research. Established auction houses often post items to their websites ahead of the event. This gives you time to study up on pieces of interest. 

If you find something you like, scout the Internet to see what similar objects sell for at retail. That way, you’ll have an idea of a fair bidding price and when to stop raising your hand. 

Speaking of hand movements, you’ll want to be aware of your body language when attending a live auction. A simple scratch of the ear could cause you to accidentally purchase something that wasn’t on your list. Auctioneers look for the slightest movements from the gallery, so avoid signaling out of turn. 

Additionally, resist the urge to bid first. By holding off, you not only pace yourself but also avoid spending too much on an item with little interest. Another tip is to sit in the back of the room. That way, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of other hopeful buyers.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bid on a fixer-upper. If you’re handy, you can repair minor scratches yourself. And if you don’t have a DIY gene, you might be able to get slightly damaged items at an even greater discount. You’ll be able to use the extra cash to get it back into shape. 

A 3D image gavel in blue. Online furniture auctions are becoming more popular
Online auctions are becoming more popular

Should You Buy Furniture at an Online Auction?

Online auctions make purchasing high-end furniture at a great price easier than ever. But knowing certain protocols will help you get the best deal. 

If you’ve never attended an online or in-person auction, sign up for one, sit back, and watch. By observing the spectacle in action, you can get a feel for the flow, terminology, and other small details you might miss in the heat of the moment. 

After all, making an online account is generally free. You may need to provide payment information upfront, but it’ll speed up the process at the end.

Internet auctions offer two ways to bid. You can place a pre-bid on items before the event begins. You agree to pay a set price if no one else shows interest. If they receive other offers, the piece will move forward, and they’ll take live bids. 

When placing live bids, sit back and see how other offers are coming in. Then start with your lowest price. And, of course, only place bids if you’re willing to pay. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and end up over your head. Set a limit for yourself ahead of time, and stick to it. 

Learn more about online auctions with The Everything Online Auctions Book.

Is Buying Furniture at an Auction Worth It?

Auctions are an excellent way to score unique items, including furniture, for prices you can’t find anywhere else. Rare, high-quality works of art are out there waiting to become part of your home. 

Just remember to research and decide how much you’re willing to spend before the event begins. If you prepare, you’ll likely leave with a new favorite item!

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