Local auction houses are a very good place to buy stock to re-sell on ebay!
There are a few sensible things to consider:
1: Do not get carried away at the auction and overpay for your items - set a price that you will NOT go beyond that will show you a reasonable profit on resale.
2: Remember that auctions charge a BUYERS PREMIUM of 15% to 17.5% plus VAT so calculate this into your maximum bid price.
3: Know what you are are buying and do your research BEFORE the auction - seems obvious but unless you are prepared to spend a little time acquainting yourself with a type of collectable or desirable item you are likely to pay too much or get caught out with fakes (did you know for example that a high proportion of Zeiss DDR 10x50 binoculars are either fakes or 'made under license' and are worth no more than 10% of the real thing? Could YOU tell the difference? I can, but it took a fair bit of research!)
4: Always check the items you are going to bid on either at a preview day or on the day of the auction before it starts. It will have to be a 'quick and dirty' check, but DO take a magnifying glass (for porcelain (cracks!) and jewellery, for precious metals take a small pocket electronic scales that weigh in Troy ounces (and check current prices before you go!)
5: With electrical items such as model trains it is usually impossible to check whether or not they are in working order (unless listed as new) so set your maximum bid accordingly.
When you get to the auction house you will have to register with your name and address. You will be given a numbered 'paddle' which you will have to show when you win a 'lot'.
When the auction starts do not worry that scratching your nose or pulling your ear will be taken as a bid! Where signals like these are used they are from experienced buyers who are known to the auctioneer. Just catch the auctionerr's eye and wave your paddle or catalogue. Once the auctioneer realises that you are bidding he will come back to you for bids as the bidding on that particular lot progresses, you can then indicate simply by a nod or shake of the head whether or not you are prepared to bid the amount he is asking.
Do NOT jump straight in with a bid at the first price suggested by the auctioneer! He will always start high then come down until people start to bid!
When you win a 'lot' you will need to hold up your munber so that the auctioneer can make a note of against your winning bid.
REMEMBER that when you bid you are entering into a legal contract to buy the goods - it's too late to change your mind when the bidding is over!
OK- so youve won a 'lot', what next?
This depends on the individual auction house - some will allow you to pay and take away your goods while the auction is still going on, others will not let you take your goods until the auction is over.
Most auction houses now take credit ( with a small premium) and debit cards as well as cash. Most will also take cheques, but ONLY if you are known to them!
So go on - have a go.
Good Luck and enjoy yourself!