Be prepared

Before you arrive at auction, make sure you have home loan pre-approval. This puts you in a better position to bid, as you’ll already know your limit.

Visit auctions before you bid

If bidding at auctions wasn’t a skill, buyers agents wouldn’t exist. It is an experience you don’t want to be dropped into cold.

“Just go and see 10, go and see 100 auctions. See the language the people are talking. Go and talk to buyer’s agents, real estate agents or auctioneers,” says property buying expert, Chris Gray.

A little bit of knowledge can be very useful. Just like someone with a bit of car knowledge buying a car at a used car dealership — learning some of the simple elements of a property will help protect your interests when buying property.

Related: What should you ask of your real estate agent?

Ask the selling agent for comparable sales

A selling agent should provide evidence as to why a property should sell at the asking price.

“They can definitely help by providing you with past sales within a block or in a street. That’s probably the best way in which they can help you,” says Adam Vernon, owner of Vernon Partners.

“The selling agent will try and help a buyer,” says Vernon.

For buyers who are keen to increase the value of their investment through home renovations at some stage in the future, making enquiries before purchasing a target property is ideal.

“Ask the agents, ‘Has anyone renovated in the block?’ That will give you an idea of what you can and can’t do, from a strata perspective. Sometimes, that agent might get you to go and see property that’s been renovated. Then straight away, you can see what you can achieve if you just spent $20,000 on the apartment you’re thinking of buying,” says Vernon.

Don’t give too much away

Don’t share specifics with the selling agent or be drawn on the amount you’re willing to pay.

Bid early, start low

If you bid early and low, you’re far more in control of the situation than if you jump in late. By the time the property goes on the market and the serious bidding begins, nerves should settle slightly.

“The truth is if the market’s there, it’s going to find its value anyway. Start low and go slow,” says Vernon.

Go slow

It’s not a race. Drawing the process out allows time to put pressure on the seller to adjust the reserve price downwards. If they really want to sell their property, they will have to accept a fair market price for it.

Set yourself an upper price limit loosely based on a property valuer’s valuation range.

Be confident

Call out your bids loudly and with confidence. State your bids in the whole dollar amount rather than the increments the auctioneer is calling out. In other words, “$505,000”, not “$5,000”.

Set yourself a limit

It’s not a good idea to bid more than your budget. Your absolute limit should be what the bank is willing to lend you plus your saved deposit. Getting pre-approval is probably a good idea before heading into auctions.

Decide on a price ceiling for the property itself as well. Remember that there are some cashed-up buyers not concerned about your beliefs of what is a fair market price for a property.

Consider using a buyer’s agent

A professional buyer’s agent can help you navigate the complexities of an auction and even bid on your behalf. Learn more about buyer’s agents here.

What happens after the auction?

If you’ve won at auction, you’ll need to pay your deposit. This will usually be at least 10% of the purchase price. This is why it’s important to be ready with a form of payment when you attend auction.

You can use a personal cheque or a bank cheque. If you’re planning to use a bank cheque, have it made out for an amount that’s 10% of your budget limit. If you end up winning at auction at a price lower than your limit, the deposit will be larger than 10%, but this just means a smaller home loan debt.

You’ll also need to sign your contracts. Remember, until the contract has been signed the seller is under no legal obligation to follow through on the sale.


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