How to Be an Auction Hunter

October 14, 2010

Sure you know about Spike's new unscripted original series Auction Hunters, premiering Tuesday, November 9 at 10:00PM/9C with back-to-back episdoes, but what are you going to do now that it's given you the hunting bug?  Well, for one you can find your own storage auction and become the next auction hunter superstar!  Not quite sure how to go about it?  Well, sit back, relax and allow us here at Spike to clue you in. 

Where to find a storage auction

Before you can become the next Auction Hunter, you first need to find a storage auction.  Sounds simple enough.  Trust us, it's not.  Unfortunately, there is no one stop shopping in locating an upcoming auction.  There are a few select websites that share such information, but for the most part hunters either keep the information close to the vest, or simply choose to sell the information in the form of monthly newsletters or paysites.  Remember, to many these auctions are not a hobby, they are a way of life, trading in treasure, and they will do what they can to keep their pockets full.  Have no fear, there are still plenty of ways to find auctions.  Your best bet is trolling through legal notices in your local newspapers, or more simply calling up local storage facilities and asking them if and when they have any upcoming auctions.  In this area, a little detective work will go a long way.   

How do auctions actually work?

Once you find an auction, you'll want to get there approximately 10-15 minutes before start time as you will have to check in with the auctioneer and make certain that you are briefed in the rules of that particular auction.  You and the other bidders will then line up in front of the first of what is likely several units up for auction.  Next, the auctioneer will throw open the unit's door.  Each bidder will briefly file past the open unit, leaving you only a matter of seconds to look and only look into the unit.  No touching allowed!  Once those precious seconds are over, you're done and that's why these short moments are so important.  You need to make a lightning fast assessment as to what the contents might be, and how much are you willing to bid.  Once everyone has had their look, bidding begins.  It can start as low as $1 or go as high as several thousand.  After being declared the winner, you will typically have up to 24 hours to clean out the unit or be forced to pay a financial penalty.  As we said before, this is a business and businesses are meant to run efficiently.  Once you clean out the space and have a chance to find out what you've got, well, that's where the fun begins!

What do I do once I've found my treasure?

It's best to walk into an auction with an exit strategy.  Occasionally, there will be items that you want to hold onto for yourself, but overall you'll want to turn over any valuable pieces as quickly as possible.  eBay continues to be the most efficient way to resell items found in storage auctions.  It's safe and comes at great convenience to you the seller.  You can just as easily have a yard sale or place a classified ad.  Above all else, be certain to know what you're selling.  Spend the extra couple of dollars to get that vase appraised, or get someone to take a look at that faded coin because what you think of as someone else's trash could truly be your treasure.

How can I succeed as an auction hunter?

There is no singular recipe for success.  Much like with any other skill, practice will make perfect and you'll learn more and more what to look out for.  Even still, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

1) Your local auction may not be the best auction.  Sometimes it will prove valuable to visit an auction further away from the city.  You will encounter fewer bidders, and quite possibly better units as some people choose to store their valuables outside the city. 

2) Be vigilant.  Know about the auctions that no one else knows about.  If you call up a facility, make sure you know what time the auctions are, and exactly how many are being put up for auction.  If you're lucky, you just might learn something that no one else knows. 

3) Do your homework.  The more you know about antiques, the more you know about history, and the more you know about people the better your take home and resale. 

4) Never get greedy.  Bidding on an auction is like betting in Vegas.  Don't spend all your money on that first hand, because you don't want to bust out when you've got a blackjack up.  

These are only the first steps to becoming a great and successful auction hunter.  Be sure to check out the series premiere of Auction Hunters on Tuesday, November 9 and let the best guys in the business, Ton and Allen, show you the rest.