I’m a big fan of auctions as a way to make extra money. They’re perfect as a sideline moneymaker. You can find some great buy-sell profit opportunities and they can be a lot of fun too. Here are a few tips on making money from auctions:
Making Money From Auctions
Just one thing first of all. TV programmes like Bargain Hunt, Cash In The Attic and Antiques Roadshow are fun. But they give a bit of a distorted view of what goes on at most auctions. They make you think that only Volvo-driving antiques dealers and David Dickinson lookalikes go to auctions.
But the vast majority of auctions AREN’T the slightly stuffy affairs you see on the TV. Where someone brings granny’s long lost gazunder and finds, surprise surprise, it sells for over £1,000.
No, most auctions are more down to earth affairs where good money can be made on a day to day basis. They’re a great place to source bargains and make some money.
So how do you go about it?
The first secret is to choose the right type of auction…
If you see an auction promoted as a ‘fine art’ auction then it’s almost certainly not a place for easy pickings. Unless you’re an expert in highly valuable oil paintings, sculpture, jewellery and Chippendale furniture and that sort of thing. Those auctions tend to be for real experts. Plus they tend to be a bit intimidating.
Similarly, any auction that describes itself as offering ‘objects of vertu’. That’s trade speak for auctions that sell things that could be valuable. But, on the other hand, could be a load of old junk. In other words, you really need to know what you’re doing to succeed with these kinds of auctions.
Instead, I’d recommend you take a look at any auctions that describe themselves as household auctions, liquidation/bankrupt stock auctions, disposal auctions – sales of that kind. These are a lot more honest and down to earth. They’re not difficult to bid in or make money from.
Most of the time, with these kinds of auctions, the deals are simple. They’re often a bit of a no-brainer. If whatever you’re interested in looks like it’s worth £10 but it sells for £20 you won’t make a profit on it. If it looks worth, say, £50 but you can buy it at auction for £10 you’ll make a profit. In other words, you don’t need to be an expert to hunt out deals like that.
Often, with these kinds of auctions, if you can buy it cheaply enough you’ll almost always make money selling it.
Here are just a few really interesting opportunities I’ve noticed at auctions…
* Ten lots in a row consisted of laptops. Various makes and models in various conditions, although they were all plugged in and appeared to be working. They sold for anything between £15 and £30. Surely they’d go for a lot more than that on eBay or in the small ads?
* Surplus but new retail stock is always worth investigating at auctions. Not many people want a dozen hair dryers or ten sets of hair straighteners. So not many people bid and prices stay low. But these lots went for £55 and £68 respectively. If you’ve got a bit of foresight and some storage space it’s not difficult to see that you could resell things like this for a lot more.
* A lot of 100 assorted car windscreen wipers went for £30. I don’t know, but I bet they’d go like hot cakes at £5 a set on eBay.
* 20 boxes of unbranded trainers went for £22. So OK, the boxes were thick with dust but what would these go for at a car boot?
* New baby clothes (bagged and tagged) in a big lot worked out at about 10p an item. A couple of market traders picked up that lot. With the way they were grinning from ear to ear when they loaded it into their van I reckon it was pretty much like cash in the bank to them.
* A box of used mobile phones. Sold for £12. I got chatting to the young guy who bought them and he reckoned he’d treble or quadruple his money by selling them on to the mobile phone recycling companies. (Tip… if you do go bargain hunting at auctions don’t give trade secrets like this away to total strangers!)
A few quick tips if you fancy trying out auctions like these:
* Do your research first. Get the catalogue in advance and study it. Most auction catalogues can be downloaded free from the Internet nowadays.
* Watch who buys, how much they’re willing to pay and what they don’t bid on as well as what they do. You can learn an awful lot from people who are obviously seasoned auction buyers.
* Always go to the sale just to view, before you go as a bidder. That way you can make sure it’s likely to be the kind of sale you can make quick money from… and not one that’s mostly the territory of suntanned, bow tie wearing, Volvo driving antiques dealers!