Don’t get hammered at auction

TRYING to keep up with the auctioneer is a challenge in itself, and before you know it, it's all over, the suited-up man in Horatio Gold sunglasses has bought the property and you're left standing on the front lawn like a stunned mullet having not even raised your bidder's card.

The alternative, you may have let the panic take over and just paid triple the worth of a property because that competitive streak from ninth grade netball led you astray.

Either way, if you're unprepared going into an auction, you're almost guaranteed to find yourself in one of the pickles above.

So, if you're planning on entering the world of auctions any time soon - buying or selling - you may want to keep this article handy, because The DEX caught up with Elders Real Estate Grafton principal Dave Dart and got the top tips for nailing an auction.

For the buyer

 Get educated: Mr Dart said scoping out the market was essential.

"Go to as many auctions as possible and follow what's selling in that area and what for," he said.

He said having the knack to identify the value of properties would give you an advantage over not-so-savvy bidders.

 Get your finances in order: Rocking up to an auction and bidding an obscene amount of money when you only have a few dollars in your pocket is a massive no-no.

"Make sure you work out how much you can spend and get pre-approval," Mr Dart said.

"Don't blow your budget."

 To pre-offer or not to pre-offer: Mr Dart said there were both negatives and positives to making an offer prior to an auction.

"If the sellers are asking $845,000 and you offer $845,000 and come the day you were the highest bidder at $820, you've just lost yourself $25,000," he said.

"But some people really like to get in early, because it can also work the other way."

 Use your poker face: the trick of the trade is being confident. If you're nervous and shaky, other bidders will use that to their advantage and out-smart you.

"You need to be very confident and try to outplay your opposition," Mr Dart said.

"If someone comes in with $220,000 you come in straight away with $225,000.

"But have your limit and don't go above it."

For the seller

 Get a pest and building inspection done: By having all the paperwork done and on display for potential buyers, you're saving them the hassle and it opens doors to more buyers.

"In Canberra the vendor has to have it done before it goes on the market which I think needs to be introduced here," Mr Dart said.

"If it opens it up to even one more buyer, it creates more competition and works for everyone all round."

 Listen to feedback: As the agent and buyers come through the property, ask them what the price would need to be for them to be interested.

"This helps you set your reserve realistically," he said.

 Presentation and marketing: Presentation is everything! Make the property spotless, ensure furniture and the gardens are looking schmick - bake scones if you have to.

"You really need good marketing too. You don't want to miss that boat, and the internet and newspapers give you great exposure," Mr Dart said.

 Pick a good agent: You wouldn't choose a dodgy surgeon to operate on your body, so don't choose just "any old" agent to sell your property.

Mr Dart said keeping an eye on the agent's clearance rates could give you an indication on just how good they were.

"All agencies are different in the way they're run, but always ask to have a look at their clearance rate," he said.

A few phrases you need to know

Absentee bid: A bid on a property done in advance by someone who will not attend the auction.

Auction subject to seller confirmation: The auctioneer brings the top bid of the day back to the seller who then accepts or rejects it.

Hammer price: The selling price of a property to the highest bidder.

Reserve: A predetermined, minimum threshold price a seller will accept to sell the property.

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