Have you every wondered about buying or selling at auction?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Here are some answers to questions that we often get asked.  If your question is not covered here, just ask us and we’ll be pleased to assist!

Got more questions?


  • What is a public auction?

    A public auction is a type of marketplace where sellers (vendors) bring goods to sell and bidders compete to buy these goods. Auctions are about achieving balance - the best outcome is where the vendor feels they got a fair price and the buyer feels they paid a fair price and everyone goes away smiling.

  • What does the auctioneer do?

    The Auctioneer manages the bidding process with the aim of creating a balanced outcome for both buyers and sellers (vendors). In return, both buyers and vendors pay a fee to the Auctioneer for this service. Vendors pay a “Vendor commission” and buyers pay a “Buyer premium”, both of which are a fixed percentage based on the price achieved at auction (the “Hammer price”).

Bidding at auction is easy.

Bid live on line from the comfort of your home or office on even when you’re out and about on your phone or tablet.

If you’d like to know more about any of our items for auction just ask us. We’ll be pleased to provide more measurements, extra pics or a video viewing via Facetime so that you can have a closer look for yourself.


  • How does an auction work?

    Lots are sold in number order. When the auctioneer starts the lot, they will call for offers or may suggest a starting bid. A bidder signals to accept the price offered by the auctioneer. Once the bidding begins the price will step up in regular increments each time a bidder bids. The bidding increment is usually around 10% of the price although the auctioneer may elect to set a higher or lower bidding increment at various times in the auction.. For example bids around $100 will be at $10 increments whereas bids at $1000 will be at $100 increments.

    Once there are no further bids on a lot, the highest bidder becomes the winner and purchases the lot at the final bidding price - this is called the “hammer price”.

  • What happens if no-one bids?

    If there are no bids, or the price is lower than the auctioneer considers to be appropriate for a low, they will call the item as “passed in” unsold. Items that are passed in will usually be offered again at a future auction.

  • Who can bid at an auction?

    Abbeys Auctions are open to the public. If you are over 18 and can provide a suitable photo ID to prove your identity, you can bid at auction. You can continue to bid at Abbeys as long as you abide by the rules of the auction.

  • How do I bid?

    Everyone needs to register to bid and obtain a unique bidding number (also called a paddle number) before they start to bid. Register online or at reception in our auction rooms.

    If bidding online, you will need to register online and then use your email and password provided to log in to an auction. Once logged in, the bidding part of the online site becomes active and you can place bids by clicking on the bid ladder for each lot. You can place online bids well in advance of the live auction and let the computer manage your bidding. Alternately you may wish to bid live in real time once the auctioneer has opened the lot for auction.

    When bidding in the room, we’ll give you a card with your bidding number on it - just hold this up or raise your hand to signal to the auctioneer that you wish to bid. The auctioneer will record your bidding number if you are the winning bidder.

    There are many ways to bid so if you're unsure just ask us.

  • What if I can't come to the auction?

    If you can't come in person there are a number of ways that you can participate in the auction. The easiest way is to bid on your computer, phone or tablet. Online bids can be placed well in advance so you don't need to be there at the time of the auction.

    If you prefer not to use technology, you may contact our front of house team and leave a written absentee bid and we’ll bid on your behalf. Or request a telephone bid and we’ll call you just before your lot is auctioned so that you can instruct us over the phone.

    There are many ways to bid so if you're unsure just ask us.

  • What is an absentee bid?

    If you can't come to the auction or don't wish to bid online, you can place an absentee bid. This is the maximum bid that you’re prepared to pay for a lot. Contact us to let us know your absentee bids at least an hour before the lot is to be auctioned and we’ll bid on your behalf. Your absentee bid will be placed into the auction by the auctioneer and will be made at the next available bidding increment as the auction of a lot progresses. Absentee bids that are below the published starting bid price will not be accepted.

  • Is there any cost to bid?

    No. Registering to bid at Abbeys is free. Some auction houses charge a registration fee to bidders before they can participate in an auction, but we don’t charge a fee at Abbeys. However please remember that a “Buyer’s Premium” is charged on lots won at auction. This is added to the hammer price.

  • Why is there a “buyer’s premium”?

    Abbeys Auctions provides a marketplace for buyers and sellers to transact together. We charge a fee to both the seller / vendor (vendor commission) and to the buyer (buyer’s premium), that’s how we get paid. The buyer’s premium is normal at public auctions but the % charged varies at different auction houses.

    Abbeys charges 24%, which is added to the buyer’s invoice after winning an item. Bidders should factor this into their calculations when planning how much to bid for a lot.

  • What’s the best bidding technique to win an item at auction?

    You may hear theories about how to beat the system, but in reality a public auction is a highly transparent environment where everyone has an equal chance of success. It’s normal to be nervous about bidding. For best results if you’re bidding online, place a bid early to signal your interest. If you're bidding in the auction room, place yourself where the auctioneer can see you clearly and signal your intention to bid early so the auctioneer can watch for your bids and give you extra time if you're feeling unsure. A visible and confident bidder will usually win the day.

    It's a risky plan if you intend to wait until the very last minute to bid - if the auctioneer doesn't know you're there or you experience an unexpected lag in your internet, you are likely to miss out.

  • What if I change my mind after I’ve bought something at auction?

    An auction house is not like a normal retail shop. The rules of auction state that the bidder becomes the successful buyer of a lot at the fall of the auctioneer’s hammer. There is no cooling off period and you can't change your mind. Things bought at auction are usually much cheaper than you would find at retail stores, so there is a price benefit to buyers in return for accepting this risk.

  • Can I get a refund on a lot bought at auction?

    Generally, no. There is no return or warranty on auction items. It’s important that you take the time to carefully inspect your lots before you bid. You can test and try most things to be sure that they are what you expect them to be. If you can't get to the auction room yourself, call us and we’ll be glad to test things for you, provide extra photos or a real-time video inspection.

    That said, at Abbeys we really want you to enjoy your purchase and to feel that you’ve got a great deal. If you have concerns that something you’ve bought is not up to scratch, please talk to us and we’ll do our best to set it right for you.

  • How does a Timed Online Auction Work?

    Timed online auctions work in much the same way as live auctions, except there is no auctioneer. When the auction commences, the online bidding system manages the sale of each lot in number order. The lot opens with the highest bid that has been placed during the pre-auction period and a countdown of 10 seconds starts. Bidders have the option of bidding “live” in the final moments of each lot. If a live bid is recorded then the lot countdown starts again for 5 seconds and this repeats until all bidders are silent - then the highest bidder has won the lot.

  • What if I can't get there to pick up my purchases?

    Purchases need to be paid for and collected within 2 working days of the auction . This is because we start setting up a new auction straight away and we just don't have the space to store your things. Regardless of your location, we can arrange to pack and send or deliver your purchases right to your door so talk to us about the arrangement that will best suit.

  • How did someone win the item at my maximum bid?

    A phenomenon that occurs from time to time in an auction situation is called “wrong footing”. Being "wrong footed" is not unique to Abbeys Auctions - it happens in every auction situation where a higher bidding limit can be placed in advance of the bidding.

    The rules of auction are that:
    (a) your bid limit cannot be exceeded without your authority and
    (b) you cannot bid against yourself.

    This means that in the live auction, you may reach a point where you are winning the lot at one increment below your top bid. As you cannot bid against yourself, somebody else may have the chance to win your lot at your maximum bid.

    For example:
    • You place a bid limit of $500. (Your bid limit is not able to be seen by others).
    • Your bids are automatically placed by the computer system each time another bidder bids against you. If your last bid was $475 and the bidding stops at that point, you would win the lot for $475.
    • If however, another bid of $25 was placed by a competing bidder at $500, your limit of $500 has been reached. This means that they will win the lot for the same price as your maximum bid.

    Our computer records each bid limit and bit that is placed for every lot and we can refer back to these traces if there is a dispute.


If you’re thinking of selling, we offer a free appraisal service. Simply send photos of your items via our appraisal upload form or bring them along to the Auction Rooms and we will gladly provide an auction estimate.

If you have a whole house full or a large collection of things, please call us and we may arrange a no obligation free visit from one of our valuers.

Contact us for a consultation & sale proposal.

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  • What things are suitable for auction?

    A wide variety of things are sold at Abbeys Auctions, both pre-loved or used and new. Most things that you will find in a typical home can be sold at auction so long as they are in good clean condition and working order. We also sell motor vehicles, boats, caravans, motor bikes, tools, wine and spirits and commercial quantities of new consumer products.

  • What is not accepted for auction?

    Things that are dirty, damaged or in poor condition. Items that need restoration or renovation or have visible repairs. Used safety or baby equipment (to keep our customers safe we’ll only work with new items in this category with Australian Standards safety tags attached). Some styles of furniture, even though they may be good quality, are not suitable because they’re just not in demand these days (eg: pink floral lounges).

    If in doubt, send us some pictures of your items and we’ll be happy to provide feedback on suitability plus likely auction values.

  • How will I know what my item is worth?

    The quickest and easiest way to get feedback about the value of your items is to send us a photo and our valuers will give you an initial auction estimate. Be sure to include any relevant background, like size & dimensions, brand names, how long you’ve had items, what the original purchase price was and any notes on the condition of the goods. If you have a large quantity of things or an entire household to clear then we’ll often be able to visit you for an on-site appraisal.

  • Is the auction estimate price guaranteed?

    No. An auction estimate is just that, an estimate. You may achieve a much higher price if there is good bidding competition, or you may achieve a lower price if there is little interest in your lot - that’s the nature of an auction. Whilst the Auctioneers will do their best to achieve the estimated price, the bidding audience will ultimately determine the selling price for a lot. Lots with an estimate below $500 will be sold at the best market price on the auction day.

    It is possible to discuss a “reserve” minimum price on items estimated over $500. Reserve prices must be agreed with the auctioneer before the auction and there are specific rules that apply to reserves. If the item remains unsold then you will be required to pay the applicable lot fees and come and collect the item at your cost.

  • What is a Lot?

    A lot is an item or group of items that are offered for sale at an auction. For example, a lot may be a dining suite made up of a table and 6 matching chairs, or a box of assorted small items grouped together, or it may be a single diamond ring. Each lot contains items only from the one vendor, and grouped lots are usually items from a related category.

    Typically, we will group items together into “Box Lots” or “Shelf Lots” where the value of the individual items is low. This allows us to get an efficient sale outcome for vendors without the need to incur multiple lot fees to list items individually.

  • What happens if it doesn’t sell?

    Everything will sell, eventually, for the market price. The auctioneer will set an initial estimated selling price range for the lot and if this is not achieved then it will be offered again in subsequent auctions, with progressive reductions in the estimate, until the item is sold. The benefit of a public auction is that it attracts a wide buying audience and competitive bidding will establish the price that the market is prepared to pay.

  • Are my goods insured whilst at the auction?

    Yes. Abbeys premises are protected by monitored security systems and we do our best to keep your things safe during the sale process. Your items are insured for auction value whilst they are in our care, covering loss or damage.