There is something tremendously exciting about buying furniture at auction and ten times more so for the people who succeed in picking up a real bargain or two. Yet for all these people who come out of the auction well in front, there are many more that sneak out the back door having bought something that they neither need nor can afford.

Buying furniture at auction, either new, part used or antique, is a definite possibility to save money. However, before making even the smallest bid, it is important for the potential purchaser to understand the implications of their actions, as well as the benefits and traps involved.

Here are five well recommended tips to avoid making mistakes if you set off with the intention of buying furniture at auction.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Furniture at Auction

Buying furniture at auction

1.  Not doing your homework

Most serious auction rooms will announce well in advance of what they have for sale in the forthcoming auction and will even allow potential purchasers to come along a day or so before the auction for a preview. Check out the items you are particularly interested and bear in mind that what may look good on paper may not look so good in the flesh. If an item is damaged it doesn’t mean that you can’t buy it, but take into account the cost of obtaining before setting your bid level. It is also worthwhile to check out how much it would cost to buy a brand-new version of the same item.

2.  Playing your hand when attending the auction

If you didn’t get a chance to attend any previews then on the day of the auction try to arrive as early as possible to check out the items that will be coming up for sale especially ones that you are more interested in. If you’re there with a friend or partner, do your best to hide or at least restrain any forms of enthusiasm about the item. This will only serve to push the price up. Make notes, set prices, pick out a prominent spot where the auctioneer is sure to see you, and let the action begin.

3.  Not watching the room and bidding

If you have never attended an auction before and even more so if you have never bid at one, no matter how excited and enthusiastic you are, restrain from making any bids for a while, until you begin to get a “feel” of the room. You will see people who bid on any item and who drop out once it reaches a certain figure and you will also see people who enter the bidding late and push up prices. When the time comes to bid for the items you are interested in, you need to be somewhere in the middle.

4.  Becoming caught up in a bidding war

Even though you have already set your heart and your mind on a particular item on sale at the auction, you have to switch off your emotions when the bidding begins. Don’t make the mistake of coming into the bidding too early as this may serve to push the price up.

5.  Not being able to walk away

Even if you have set your price at $50, for example, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pay $30 for it, and you certainly don’t want to pay $70. Once the price reaches your budget level, and maybe even 10% more, if you don’t succeed in buying it, then cope with your disappointment and walk away.


About the Author: Chris has been working in the decorating industry, specializing in french furniture. Over the last 4 years, Chris has published numerous articles on furniture buying and decoration.

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About the Author: Patricia Davis Brown

Patricia, like her blog, is not a one-dimensional designer, which is evident in her accolades of 17 national design awards. Over a 38-year career in the industry, she has carved a niche in several areas of design. Licensed in interior design and certified in kitchen and bath design, she offers a full menu of design services ranging from whole house interior design, kitchen and bath design, lighting design, full remodels, commercial design and universal (ADA) design. Patricia is a sought-after speaker in the industry and has been published in many publications as seen on her interior design firm’s website, She writes for such publications as QuinStreetinc, Relaxed Remodeler, and talent offering design tips.