A MELBOURNE man has stunned onlookers after repeatedly bidding against himself at auction to buy a house.
Ben Cohn used a unique strategy of upping bids every 10 seconds - and even bidding against his own - while holding his arm up for the entire 20-minute auction.
Mr Cohn and his fiance Noga went to the auction for their dream house in Ripponlea last month.
But Mr Cohn shocked the auctioneer, other bidders - including a seasoned property investor - and about 100 onlookers, when he started placing bids against himself.
"I think most people in the crowd thought I was crazy," Mr Cohn said.
"As soon as they bid, I bid straight up against them by $1000, waited 10 seconds then bid another $1000, and kept doing that."
"The longer they waited the more I put in additional incremental bids to try to effectively put them off."
But the innovative 32-year-old said it was all part of the strategy.
"The rationale behind it was to let them know we were really keen on it and secondly we were trying to put them off," he said.
"I wanted any counter bidder to think we've got endless money to bid on this property."
Mr Cohn, who started TAXIBOX self-storage, said his shocked fiance, who was in the crowd, had no idea he was going to use the brazen idea.
"People were coming up to me during the auction, saying 'what are you doing, are you OK?'," he said.
"The truth behind it was that there was a very definite end result and once I had hit our limit I was going to drop my hand.
"I was only increasing the bids by small amounts, so people thought it was crazy for us to do it, but the actual incremental increases were not $10,000 or $20,000."
Mr Cohn ended up snapping up the four-bedroom brick Edwardian house for just over $2 million, well below what he was willing to pay.
The auctioneer Gary Peer, who has been in real estate for 36 years, admitted he was stunned.
"I've never seen that technique before, it really did throw me," Mr Peer said.
"It confounded the underbidder, they were gathering around, scratching their heads, not knowing what was going on."
REIV president Joseph Walton said it was legal to bid against yourself.
"While highly unusual, it is not illegal to bid against yourself at auction," Mr Walton said.
"The REIV does not recommend prospective purchasers engage in such strategies in order to buy property."