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Welcoming and educating new bidders

Tuesday 25 July 2017

The auction scene is changing and you can't rely on your regulars bidders being around forever - you need to appeal to new audiences! New NAVA President Colin Young gives some first-hand advice on how to welcome potential new bidders to the auction scene and help educate them on the process of buying at auction.

Welcoming new bidders to auction sales has always been a core job for any auctioneer. The experienced auctioneer will be able to identify a nervous bidder and put them at their ease, inviting them into the process. If a bidder is comfortable in the saleroom environment they are likely to perhaps go that one more bid to secure a lot.

It is fair to say that the world of auctions has been virtually demystified by the wholesale exposure to the process by television programmes; rarely does a day go by without one broadcast and of course auction sales are being live web cast over the internet every single day.

Whilst it is now quite rare for newcomers to auctions to be completely unprepared, it does inevitably still happen, and as professionals we have a duty to guide consumers of our services through what seems like a very simple process for centuries; bid, pay and take it away.

Help create the next generation of confident bidders

To build the confidence and knowledge of new bidders, the best advice you can give them is that the most important thing they need to understand is that the sale is held under the auctioneers terms and conditions of auction business.

Experienced buyers will already know that these will vary slightly from auction house to auction house and will also depend on the type of goods they are selling. However, when speaking to new buyers it is worth mentioning this so that they are aware when going to the next auction house. And remember, you may be the auctioneer at that next auction house!

By helping newcomers become familiar with the auction process we can help take some of the mystique away, and remove the fear factor which can often be a barrier to increasing our audiences. Being open and transparent will help gain the public’s trust and confidence in our profession.

The only thing that remains a constant is the basics of auction law and how the sale contract is made.

From experience, the most common misunderstanding new buyers can fall into is assuming that every sale conducted via the internet is an ‘online’ auction. Buyers who have bid at a real auction find the transition to bidding online very easy, whereas buyers starting their auction experience online can become frustrated at times by finding out that those online auction experiences are too impersonal in their engagement.

‘Online’ auctions are where products are listed on the internet and bidders do not have the ability to view in person or make their own assessment on condition and the accuracy of the description. This is fine for homogenous goods; every new cooker should be the same as the next. Consumer protection laws quite rightly apply for these types of sales if the item is not as described. 

Most ‘real’ or ‘natural’ auction sales however include items of varying nature, quality and condition, making them all unique. These sales are no different from any other traditional auction sale in that buyers have the opportunity to view, handle the items, make their own assessment on condition or otherwise. The fact that some buyers choose not to do so is of their choice, risk and responsibility. These sales now often give buyers an alternative opportunity to view bid live webcast over the internet, should they wish. However the bid is actually made, it remains a real auction, not an online auction.

At these auctions buyers can now often view the sale room via live webcast and make internet bids, should they wish. But however people decide to place their bids, it remains a real auction, not an online auction.

Handy guide for consumers

NAVA Propertymark have also produced a handy guide for consumers - 14 Things You Need to Know about Buying a Property at Auction. Be sure to include a link when you're posting on social media, or you can link to it on your website. 

Disputes

The bedrock of any auction sale is the Terms & Conditions of Auction Business to which buyers have agreed to abide by when making a bid in the sale. It is important when dealing with any auction dispute to start with the implied term of all sales that the auctioneer will be the arbitrator in any dispute and that decision will stand. 

And finally
, a little ‘jargon-busting’. Nothing is ever ‘won’ at an auction. Any successful bidder becomes a purchaser and will have to pay the invoice.