Tips for a Great Auction

Auctions offer the opportunity to find additions to collections, unique antiques, vehicles, houses, farm equipment – just about anything. Whether onsite or online, auctions are an exciting way to sell your items for top dollar or to buy in a lively environment.

toy trains

Collectibles and antiques up for sale at the Dosland Auction Warehouse in Grand Mound, Iowa.


  • Work with a professional auctioneer.
  • Plan ahead – at least three months. Time is needed to evaluate your inventory and to promote the sale to attract buyers.
  • Present your items in the best condition possible.
  • Know your reserve price for specific items, especially for real estate and machinery.
  • Discuss online vs. on-premise auction options with your auctioneer.
  • Understand the responsibilities between you and the auctioneer. For example, know who is moving items, who cleans up after the sale, etc.


  • Read the listing before you arrive.
  • Arrive early to examine the inventory. Some sales have viewing times prior to the auction.
  • Get your bidding number. You may be required to provide an ID, such as a driver’s license, so make sure it is readily available.
  • Know the payment methods accepted by the auction house.
  • Bring any documents required for the items you wish to purchase – gun license, bank documents, etc.
  • Listen closely during the auction. Each auctioneer has a style, so you’ll want to pay attention to bid increments, cadence, and inflections.  
  • Be aware of several rings or specific auction times for larger items, such as a car or real estate.
  • Bring your own boxes and packing materials.
  • Bring a big enough vehicle to haul your purchased items home. Don’t drive your Prius when you might buy a Queen Anne dresser!
  • Have fun! Auction humor is great and you never know what items you might find!

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