Under the hammer

Norfolk's newest auction house got off to a flying start this week when Wymondham Salerooms' first sale attracted scores of people looking for a second-hand bargain. Here we look at how a novice can succeed in the saleroom...

With the economy in its current state, auctions provide a good alternative to buying new items, and it's something that Norfolk people seem to have recognised if the turnout at the new Wymondham Salerooms is anything to go by.

Auction novices shouldn't be worried if they don't know how it all works, it's really very simple…

When you arrive at the auction site you may need to register with the auctioneers to obtain a bidding number. This requires name and address and possibly a returnable deposit.

If you have not viewed the lots for auction before the auction day, you will need to allow time to inspect your prospective purchases before the auction starts, if allowed.

When a lot you are interested in comes up for sale, the auctioneer will announce the number (either found in the catalogue next to the item or placed on the item during the viewing period) and give a brief description of the item.

A starting bid will be suggested by the auctioneer and usually bidding will start below this price, so do not assume the auctioneer's starting bid is the lowest price available. If the item has a reserve price the auctioneer will often start the bidding above this price and reduce the start bid towards the reserve price until a bid is made. The auction catalogue will usually display a guide price for the item which is above the items reserve price.

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When bidding, it is usual to get the auctioneer's attention by raising a hand or making a clear gesture followed by the amount you wish to bid. Once bidding has started, the auctioneer will return to bidders every time the bid is increased to see if you wish to raise your offer. A clear shake of the head will indicate to the auctioneer that you do not wish to continue bidding.

If your bid is the final bid and the price reached is above the items reserve price you have been successful in your purchase.

After you have won the bid you will have to pay an immediate deposit, the amount of deposit will be stated in the terms and conditions of the auction catalogue. The type of payment method will be stipulated in the catalogue, as will the amount of time given to pay fully for the purchase and clear the goods from the auction house.

Remember it is usual for the goods to be the responsibility of the purchaser after the hammer has fallen

If the items for auction are large, heavy or difficult to move, representatives of removal companies will usually be present, but this is worth checking with the auctioneers before you make your purchase.