The range of auctions that take place is extremely wide and you can buy almost anything, from a house to an endowment policy and everything in-between. Indeed some of the more interesting recent developments have been the use of the Internet both as a means of disseminating information about various auctions and as a vehicle for hosting auctions themselves.
Here’s a short description of the most common types of auction. We will look at the first four of these in more detail in the second part of this book.
Government, Bankruptcy and General Auctions
Government and General Auctions are amongst the most common auctions to be found today.
Here you find a vast range of materials that have to be sold by various government bodies, for example: HM Customs & Excise, the Official Receiver, the Ministry of Defence, local councils and authorities, liquidators, as well as material put up for auction by companies and members of the public.
Also in this group you will find auctions ordered by executors who are entering the assets of individuals who have perhaps died in testate (those who have died without leaving a will), or in debt.
One of the most interesting bodies to look out for at auction is HM Customs & Excise who may be entering at auction various items seized from smugglers, fraudsters and racketeers.
Motor Vehicle and Car Auctions
Here you can buy anything from a clapped out banger to a brand new top-of-the-range model; from a run-of-the-mill family saloon to a rare collector’s item. Not only are motor auctions an ideal place to pick up a bargain – if you know what to look for (and we will explain this in detail) – but they can often be an entertaining evening out.
Land & Property Auctions
For the ordinary person land and property auctions can be quite daunting as they are places where they can see literally tens of thousands of pounds of hard-earned cash change hands in a few minutes.
However, knowing the ropes at land and property auctions can allow you to pick up residential and investment properties at knock-down prices. In this guide we explain how they work.
Antiques and Collectibles Auctions
Auctions of antiques and collectibles are fascinating places and hold the opportunity for making serious money. If through your knowledge (and luck) you can spot a bargain at one auction, snap it up, and sell it on at another.
With a potential audience of 300 million people who are already on-line, the Internet is the most exciting part of the auction world at the moment. Led by sites in the United States but closely followed by UK auction houses, specialist Internet auctions are springing up all over the place, selling everything from antiques and collectibles to holidays, air travel, brand new computers, and household equipment.
If you fancy being the Lord of the Manor then you can buy a hereditary title at auction. Every year several of these specialist auctions take place and quite apart from the value to someone who wants to be addressed as Baron or M’Lord, they are enormously entertaining for anyone interested in people watching.
For anyone with a keen eye for a bargain, auctions of second-hand endowment policies can be an excellent place to pick up a bargain. The attraction is that someone else has already paid substantially to set up the policy in the first place, and you will be able (with the help of your trusty financial calculator) to calculate its real worth and decide whether it’s worth your while snapping it up.
Sometimes when the stock or assets of a company are simply too vast or too bulky for an auction house to transport to their own premises and store, they will hold an auction within the confines of the bankrupt company itself.
You could find yourself bidding for items which are still plugged in, and the great advantage of these auctions taking place on the premises is that you have the opportunity to view the goods as they were being used, and you may be able to try them out. You can also avoid the possibility of goods being damaged whilst they are being removed as you can do it yourself or at least supervise the activity.
Private Treaty Sales
Occasionally, when you are looking at an auction catalogue, you will note that some of the items have been withdrawn. Usually these goods have been sold by ‘private treaty’.
This means that the goods have already been sold off, usually to a trader or dealer on a private, behind-the-scenes basis before they have had a chance to be offered at the auction sale.
These goods are rarely in single lots – photocopiers or fax machines would generally be sold in bulk lots for instance. Occasionally lots might include the contents of a ladies’ fashion store, a newsagents or even a fleet of cars or dump trucks.
If you are interested in private treaty sales then it is essential to make yourself known to the various auctioneers and act fast. Usually dealers and traders who are interested in private treaty auction sales will be on an auctioneer’s mailing list, and as soon as the auction catalogue is published they will be on the scene putting in their bid for large lots of stock.