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Car Auction Guide: How to Bid with Confidence

Lets start 2013 with getting back to basics for getting the best deal at a car auction.  Participating in a car auction for the first time can be an intimidating experience.  Even those who have taken part in multiple auctions may still get butterflies before they bid.  This can be problematic because bidding with confidence is an essential element of a successful auction.  With all of the preparation necessary to spot a great deal, it is counterproductive to try and bid if you are not competent.  Confident bidding not only allows people to be more relaxed throughout the buying process, but also helps them stand firm on the limits they set for themselves.  There are four primary tricks to bid with confidence at any auction.  They are getting started early, thoroughly reviewing the rules, eliminating stress, and knowing when to get out.

Get Started Early

Bidding haphazardly is a great way to undercut your confidence.  You will immediately regret missed deals and probably bring home a few vehicles you are very happy with.  This is a huge detriment over the course of several auctions because it becomes easy to second-guess yourself.  The only way to always be bidding with a purpose is doing the proper preparation.  An educated better is significantly more confident because they know exactly what they are bidding on and how much they are willing to bid.  Auction listings can be released up to a month before at auction; however they will change on a regular basis up to the day of the auction.

During the early preparation stages, it is important to use the auction listing as a general guide to give you an idea of what types of cars will be available.  It is important to pay special attention for multiple lots with the same type of vehicle.  For example, if there are a handful of mid-2000 Toyota Camry’s then there will likely be one or two which will end up being a great deal.  This is because everyone who wants this type of vehicle will have an opportunity to compete for one.  After the first few are sold, there will be very few, if any, competing bidders which leads to drastically lower winning bids.

A week out from the auction, it is time to start looking at the listing more seriously.  Try to identify 5 to 15 vehicles which are particularly interesting.  Once this is been accomplished, take a detailed look at each vehicle to determine their value as well as an acceptable bidding limit.  While it is impossible to accurately predict their condition without seeing them, gathering a foundation of background information will save time during the viewing period before the auction.  Many auction listings will include the VIN number.  If this is the case, make sure to do a thorough background check on each vehicle.  Take note of any accidents or major repairs which could affect its current condition.

Review the Rules

Nothing is worse than taking part in an auction if you don’t know the rules.  To bid confidently you must be comfortable in your environment.  Knowing all of the rules is a simple way to immediately become more comfortable.  Pay close attention to issues such as: buyer premiums, the process of negotiating a sale if the reserve it is not met, and all of the payment options.

Eliminate Stress

Car auctions can be extremely stressful times.  Most people get a noticeable adrenaline rush any time they start bidding.  While this can help you be more confident, it can also make you start second-guessing yourself.  Fortunately, there are a handful of different strategies you can use to minimize or eliminate stress during the auction.

Know What You Want

The easiest way to eliminate stress is knowing what you want.  If you have done all of the necessary prep work before the auction there is no reason you shouldn’t already have a list of target vehicles.  Using this list as a guide, you should not only know what type of vehicle you want but the lot numbers you will be focusing on.  Not only does this ensure you target great deals, but it also eliminates the opportunity for randomly bidding on unknown vehicles.

Know How Much You Are Willing to Spend

Along with knowing what you want to bid on, you also need to know how much you are willing to spend.  Confident, successful bidders always have a hard ceiling which they refuse to surpass.  Not only does this help them bid more confidently, but it also ensures every purchase is a good one.  Don’t forget to include the buyer’s premium when determining how much you are willing to spend.

Organize Everything By Lot Number

Having a lot of information prior to the auction is a huge advantage, but only if it’s organized.  You don’t want to feel rushed or scattered when a target vehicle hits the auction block.  The easiest way to keep all of your information straight is by organizing it by Lot number.  In most cases, this won’t be possible until the day of the auction because lot numbers are not assigned far in advance.

Get  a Feel for the Auctions

The final way to feel confident bidding at a car auction is simply getting comfortable.  Try to avoid bidding on vehicles extremely early in the auction, and less a particularly good deal presents itself.  By getting into the flow, you will better understand the auctioneer, bidding styles, other people’s bidding strategies, and how quickly the pace of the auction will be.

When in Doubt – Get Out

The final trick to bidding confidently is deciding when to get out beforehand.  Any time you find yourself doubting whether or not you should bid, the answer is always no.  Once you start doubting yourself, bidding confidently becomes impossible.

Bidding confidently provides auction goers with a variety of benefits.  The most important being getting the vehicles they want at a price they are happy with.  Showing up to the auction isn’t enough to guarantee confidence.  Doing the necessary preparation, organizing, and planning are critical.  Undervaluing or skipping any of the steps in this process will substantially increase your odds of either:  missing a great deal or coming home regretting your purchase.

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