How to be an Auction Winner in 4 Simple Steps

Even though auctions have become a popular sales method for selling property around Sydney’s lower north shore, they still happen to strike fear most in buyers and vendors alike. Much of this has to do with the fast-paced nature of the auction environment, but sometimes it’s to do with the vendor’s agent not explaining the auction process to them properly. If you’re a vendor, a good agent can help assuage many of your auction fears, but it’s not quite so simple if you’re a buyer.

As a buyer, you have no way to tell what’s going to happen at each auction you attend. Buyer interest during the inspections, to you, might have appeared quite high, but the turn out on auction day might be low; sometimes the opposite is true. Some buyers may be represented by a buyer’s advocate or a proxy, who are professionals well-versed in the machinations of an auction. Their direct and, often, intimidating nature is usually all it takes to blow the competition out of the water, but it needn’t be.

But the only thing that separates you from a professional buyer’s advocate is not the highest budget or even years of experience; it’s being able to accurately read the auctioneer’s body language and that of the other bidders around you. Body language is something I touched on briefly in a video I created, called Tips For Buyers, so I thought I would just expand on that a little further with these tips for being an auction winner.

People Dress to Impress

Most buyer’s advocates, proxies and even some of the other buyers will dress in a suit and turn up in a prestige car, but remember that this is just a tactic to throw you off your game. They want you to think that money is no object, but I’ve never been to an auction where that’s been true. Everyone has a budget, and nearly everyone will stick to it. By the same token, don’t ignore the guy who rolls up in a pair of stubbies and thongs.

Beware of Buyers Who Use Knowledge as Power

A popular tactic among some buyers is to ask lots of questions about the property right before the auction commences. This is designed to make it appear as though this buyer knows something about the property that you don’t. The goal is to get you doubting whether this is sound investment after all, and once they’ve planted the seed of doubt… Well, they’ve gotcha.

Keep an Eagle Eye on Each Bidder’s Partner

Here’s a typical auction scenario I see time and again: There are just two groups left, bidding for a property. Both groups are husband and wife teams. Group A looks set to have the winning bid and the auctioneer begins to call it, at which point the Group A’s wife, thinking it’s in the bag, ducks out to make a phone call. Upon seeing this, Group B’s wife nudges her husband in the ribs and says to put in one more bid, which they do. Group A is taken by surprise. His wife is on the phone, he’s already reached his budget, and he wasn’t expecting Group B to make a last minute bid. The hammer falls, and Group B is the winner.

The Auctioneer is Watching You Too  

If you bid confidently, you’ll get attention from the auctioneer, and you’ll continue to get that attention for as long as they sense there’s still money in the kitty, so to speak. Once the auctioneer senses they’re not getting anything more out of you, they’ll move on. Depending on how you play it, losing the attention of the auctioneer could either work in your favour, or against it. The auctioneer is there to get the best result for the vendor too, so keep that in mind.

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— This blog first appeared at

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