How to buy at auction
The essentials of "winning lots" - as the Americans so fittingly put it - at auction, according to Adelle Hughes of Whyte's Fine Arts & Collectibles are:
Set your budget: Decide on the maximum price you would pay for the lot and bid that amount. The estimate is a guide price. Remember, the auctioneer's commission will be on top of the hammer price. Whyte's commission is 20pc plus VAT, which comes to just under 25pc. This is a competitive rate and considerably less than what you would pay in the London houses, for example, says Hughes.
Find a way to bid that suits: There are several ways to bid at auction. The best, and perhaps the most enjoyable, is in person in the room, but there are several alternatives:
- Live telephone bidding
This is where a bidding agent calls you during the auction and bids on your behalf for the lot/s in which you are interested. You must pre-register for this, indicating the lot or lots you wish to bid on and give a telephone number (preferably a fixed land line) where they can reach you at the time of sale. This service is subject to the number of telephone lines available on the lot. The service is usually limited to lots with a lower estimate of €2,000.
- Live online bidding
Whyte's offer live bidding with streaming audio and video feeds so you can watch and listen to the auction and bid from anywhere in the world. Again, you need to register in advance of the sale to avail of this service.
- Absentee or commission bids
"An absentee bid is a bid left with the auctioneer who executes it on your behalf. The auctioneer will try and secure the lot/lots for you at the lowest possible price, other bids allowing. For instance if you leave an absentee bid of €1,000 on a lot and the highest other bid received is €700, you will get it for the next bid, ie, €750," says Hughes. "Absentee bidding works well for those with a specific budget in mind, or those afraid of losing the run of themselves in the saleroom."