There’s no doubt that auctions stir up all sorts of emotion – they are fast, high pressure and competitive, which leads to some pretty bizarre mishaps.
Veronica Morgan has a 20-year career in property and has attended and bid at more auctions than most. She pinpoints some of the common ‘doh’ moments that can happen at auctions.
People lose track of the millions being bid
It’s important to listen and know your numbers when you’re bidding at auction.
Morgan says there have been instances where bidders have lost track of not just the thousands the highest bid is currently at, but the millions.
“The highest bidder has asked the auctioneer, ‘so where are we at now, $5.5 million? And the auctioneer says, ‘no sir, we’re at $6.5 million’,” Morgan explains.
“They just paid $1 million more for a property than they thought they did,” she says.
It’s also possible for people to bid with the wrong numbers – for instance, a buyer might says $1.1m, but what they really mean is $1.01m.
People bid against themselves
Bidding at auction can feel like a pressure cooker test – you can have your mind so focussed on nabbing the property that you bid impulsively.
Morgan says she has seen bidders who are already the highest bid, impulsively bid against themselves.
Make sure to listen to what the auctioneer is saying, and keep track of what you’ve bid and what the other bidders are doing.
Stay cool, calm and collected.
Playing it too cool
On the other hand, you don’t want to play it too cool. Morgan says she has seen bidders play it too cool and bid after the hammer has fallen, which of course means that their bid doesn’t count.
“It’s pretty awkward – the auctioneer has to explain ‘I couldn’t accept that bid because the law says that after the hammer falls, no other bids can be taken into account’. Can you imagine the arguments in the car on the way home?” says Morgan.
Morgan says she often sees couples arguing about what their highest bid should be.
“You are under so much pressure at an auction, you are never going to make a good decision with that sort of pressure and that little time.”
It’s important to go into the auction knowing what your highest bid is and not going over that amount – it may seem like a good decision at the time, but often people forget it’s not just hypothetical numbers they’re bidding with.
People stop bidding before their limit
“Most people think that the person with the deepest pockets ends up buying the property,” says Morgan. However, this isn’t often the case.
If someone successfully ‘psyches someone out’ at auction, they can make the other person bidding feel like the don’t stand a chance. They bow out without reaching their limit.
“I once had someone come up to me after the auction and say, ‘I don’t know how you did it, but you made me stop bidding before my limit’. Little did they know that that was my limit and I had nothing more in the tank,” says Morgan.