How to Buy at Auction

At Pro Auction, we want to make the buying of items at auction as transparent, friendly and as straightforward as possible. Buying at auction is fun and can save you money compared with buying at stores on the high street. It is also good for the environment as some items may be second-hand rather than new.

It can seem a bit daunting at first, but just like anything else, it’s best to just have a go, and you’ll find that you soon get used to it, finding the items you love and enjoying the fun of participating.

Here is our quick and easy guide to Bidding and buying at auction.

How to find out about auctions

You can find out about future auctions both online and offline; the website is a great place to start with the auction calendar. You can sign up for the email reminder service on the contact page, and we will keep you informed the minute a new sale is listed.

You can view catalogues online by visiting the auction calendar section of this website and clicking on the relevant auction. Catalogues are generally online a minimum of two weeks before each auction.

You can receive regular updates and alerts automatically. Simply register your details, and you will be added to our global list.

Browsing or searching for items

The auction calendar lets you see if an item you are interested in is on sale. You can also find out how similar items have sold at previous auctions. Simply use the search bar on the home page by entering the keywords and pressing go. Alternatively, check the relevant section in the printed catalogues to find your item.

You can contact the auction house to ask questions about the item you are interested in, or if you live nearby, you can go along to a viewing at their premises and see the item for yourself.

A key thing to remember is that at an auction, it is up to you as the bidder to satisfy yourself about the condition of an item before you bid. Read the lot description, check the photos and if you need more information, the auction house will be happy to help you.

Viewing an item in person

Visit the saleroom – You are welcome to make an appointment to view any item you are interested in by contacting the venue where the auction is being held.

Viewing days – We hold viewing days before every auction, allowing potential bidders to inspect items more closely and ask our specialists detailed questions. Viewing times can be found online and in the front of the printed catalogues, or call us to make an appointment.

Register to bid

Once you have found the item you want to bid on, register for sale. This is a straightforward process, whether you do it in person, by phone or online.

Register to bid in person

On the day of the auction, simply provide your name and address, as well as proof of identity and residence such as a passport or driving licence. Once your registration is complete, you will be given a paddle carrying your personal number for bidding during the auction.

Register to bid on the internet

Register online by clicking the link to the auction on this site and clicking on the register section. Once you have successfully registered, you will be sent a confirmation email containing your username and password.

Register to bid by telephone

Bidding by telephone lets you take part in the auction without having to be present in the auction saleroom.

If you would like to do this, you will need to book yourself in as a telephone bidder in advance of the sale. Places are available on a first-come-first-served basis and may be subject to a minimum lot value. You will also need to fill in a telephone bid form, ensuring that we can contact you once your lots of interest come up for sale.

Current Calendar

How to Place a Bid

In the Saleroom

Attending the auction If you attend in person, you will be given your bidding paddle once you have completed the registration form. When you want to bid on an item, raise the paddle so that the auctioneer can see you. If you are successful, the auctioneer will make a note of your paddle number, and you can then pay for the item at the Cashier’s Office. If you are bidding on more than one lot, you can pay for everything you have purchased at the end of the auction.

Telephone bidding On the day of the auction, we will telephone you a few lots before your lot is announced. Once Bidding begins, we will talk you through as the bids progress and ask you at each stage if you wish to bid. This will carry on until you are successful or you tell us that you wish to stop bidding.

Commission Bid You can place a commission bid with the auction staff in advance or on the day of the auction, there is a short form to complete and the auction clerks will bid on your behalf up to your maximum specified bid specifying the lot(s) on which you wish to leave an absentee bid. This gives us written permission to act as your representative to try and secure the lot(s) at the lowest possible price, subject to any reserve and interest from other bidders.

Bidding online is easy. You can either bid live or leave pre-bids if this is more convenient for you.

Live Bidding

Join the thrill of the event and compete against other buyers in real-time. You will be able to see and hear the auction as it progresses and place your bids as the lots you want to buy are offered by the auctioneer.

If you have registered for online Bidding, you will be able to log in with the details you have been given on the day of the auction. You can do this on your PC, tablet or mobile phone.

You can join the auction at any stage as it progresses through the lots. Sign into your account and connect to the live auction.

When your lot appears, listen to the auctioneers’ description and his call for bids, wait for the amount you wish to bid to appear on the screen and click the BID button. If you are the highest bidder, the button will turn green. If you are outbid, the blue button will re-appear, and you can place further bids.

Absent Bids / Pre-Bid A convenient option is to place a maximum bid before the auction starts. This is the highest amount you are willing to pay for a lot. Then sit back and relax.

Register to bid in the normal way at any stage prior to the auction start; then, using the online catalogue, select the lot you would like to bid on and click on the BID link. Enter your username and password provided in your confirmation email and leave a bid.

The bid amount should be the maximum you are prepared to pay for the item (remembering to take into account that the Buyer’s Premium and taxes are payable on top of the amount you place as your bid)

Once the auction starts, the sale platform will place your bids for you, only ever bidding just enough to keep you in the lead. The platform will never go beyond the limit that you placed as the maximum bid. If nobody else bids more than your maximum bid, then you will win the lot at a price last called for by the auctioneer.

You would be notified by email if your bid is successful.

Buyer’s Premium And Other Charges

You will need to pay the Buyer’s Premium and any other charges that may apply in addition to VAT when you buy. Please read the terms and conditions of sale carefully and take note of the premium and other charges that will be applied to your final invoice on top of the hammer (your bid) price.

If you are unsure what charges apply, please contact the saleroom clerks prior to placing bids.

After the auction

If you are the successful bidder, then the item (lot) is yours; congratulations!

Auction result notification

You will receive a notification of items you have and an invoice for payment.

Payment has to be made in accordance with the conditions of the auction sale; this is normally within 24 hours of the sale ending unless you have made alternative arrangements with the auction house.

The auction clerks will contact you to arrange payment once the auction has ended, or you can contact them to provide a method of payment. Payment is expected by bank transfer, and on some auctions, we provide a way to pay online and accept payment by card or payment in cash.

Collection of Lots

We will provide details after the auction in terms of the collection process of the lots you have purchased, you may either go to the auction venue and pick up your item, or request a quote to have the items delivered to you.

In some sales, we offer a packing service, and we can often recommend local or national courier companies that will pack, pick up and deliver your item to you for an additional charge.

Top Tips

Remember that at auction, it is your responsibility, as the bidder, to satisfy yourself about the condition of an item. Always attend the viewing days and do your research. Ask the auction house for additional photos and a condition report if you need them.

Before Bidding, read the auction terms and conditions and pay attention to the auctioneers’ announcements, as these are contractual and binding.

Make sure you know what buyer’s premium the auction house charges that relate to the sale.

Remember, when the auctioneer bangs the gavel down at the end of Bidding, it establishes the hammer price, and it is a contract to buy.

Keep your online bidding credentials secure. Never share the password information with any third party.

Bid quickly and confidently and stick to your limits.

Enjoy the sale and the competitive Bidding, be bold and ask if you are unsure of any aspect of the sale.

Happy Bidding!

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