cff HOW TO SHOP LOCAL ONLINE AUCTIONS | Simple and Serene Living


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Everyone is familiar with Ebay, which began as an online auction site. What fun it was to sit in your home and bid against unknown people on something you just had to have. Once you won the item then you paid for it and for shipping and the seller would put it in the mail to you. 

Most of us are also familiar with local in person auctions. They were a place where you would go, preview the items, and spend several hours waiting for that perfect find to come up for bidding, so that you could hopefully beat out someone else in the room for it. 

The satisfaction of being the winning bidder was very exciting for both of these, but things have changed. 

A few years ago in person auctions began to disappear. The cost of brick and mortar spaces became too high for some auction houses and buyers began to like bidding online. Covid pretty much shut down in person auctions and so now online auctions are the norm.

I love to sit in my own home and bid while I am doing other things, and people have asked me questions about how to find auctions and how to bid. 


Auction Zip is the world's largest online marketplace for local online auctions. There are auctions going on every day of the week across the country and Auction Zip has them listed. You can sign up to receive notifications of auctions near you, or you can check in and look at their calendar. 

Local newspapers list auctions and you can check out yours online. 

Google Maps is an easy way to find auctions near you. Just type auction into the search bar and it will bring up auction houses near you.


Once you have found local auction houses it is time to start checking them out. This can be a bit time consuming at first, but it is also an important part of successfully shopping on their sites. 

Go to their websites and see what kind of auctions they hold. Look at their reviews, and get an idea of their professionalism. 

There are different types of auction houses and they will not all fit into what you are looking for. I am interested in vintage and antiques so I can eliminate car auctions and real estate auctions for example.


Now that you have found auction houses that you like, you need to do a bit of "housekeeping". First you need to join their site before you can bid. 

Also, I recommend that you go through the entire auction and mark "watch" on the items that interest you. This will put all of the items that you are interested in in one place and eliminate the need to keep going through the entire auction inventory. 

Before you start bidding here are some things you need to do. 

  • Research your items to see what they are worth. Google them. Check them out on Etsy and EBAY or other sites that sell similar items.
  • Look carefully at the photos for flaws. This is very important if the auctioneer doesn't list much information. 
  • If you have questions contact the auction house and ask them.
  • Set a limit on what you are willing to spend. It is easy to get carried away in the heat of the auction, and you can find yourself spending more than you want.
  • All items are sold as is.


Whew!!! It is finally time to start bidding. Online auctions have a longer  open time so you have to be patient. Some people like to get the lay of the land by waiting until others have bid while others like to be the first to place a bid. Remember you can start low and then raise your bid as necessary. (Just don't forget the work you have put into evaluating things) 

Most sites have a 2 or 5 minute rule. This rule keeps someone from coming in at the last second and outbidding you. If they try the auction time for that item will be extended to give you a chance to up your bid. 


When the auction is over the auctioneer will send you an invoice with your total due. Most auction houses now charge a buyer's premium of 15% so that will be added to your total along with local taxes.  

They will also tell you when and where you can pick up your items.

So now just remember that everyone makes mistakes. I've been doing this a long time and still make mistakes. The important thing is to have fun. 

You can find many of my auction finds here


  1. I love this kind of information. I had no idea how this worked. And before you told me, I didn't know about online auctions at all.

  2. Wow this is great information Laura. I like that last minute rule. I hate that on ebay if you are the winning bidder on something and then at the last minute someone comes in and out bids you. I am going to check into this. Sounds like a great new way to hunt for treasures. xoxo

  3. Great tips, Laura! I love eBay and the auctions. Honestly, I mainly do a lot of buy it now items. I used to bid, and I was pretty good at it, but I don't have the patience anymore. In person auctions sound like fun, but I've never been.

  4. U have seen on-line auctions in NJ. I'm a bit leary. I don't know why. I bought things from Ebay during the early 3


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