A large crowd stands on a freshly trimmed front yard, shielding their eyes with the backs of their hands as the sun beats down on them. The air crackles with tension, thick with the murmurs of young couples rehashing their bid strategy, arms crossed and brows knitted. This sets the stage for the oldest form of theatre we have – auctions. Pitting home-buying hopefuls against each other in a thrilling race for the perfect price – sounds like the next big reality TV show. A show is nothing without its cast so we’re here to break down the types of people you’re likely to find at an auction.
Out of the huge crowd standing on the lawn during auctions, only about 2% of these are possible bidders, with the rest of them just there for the show – nosy neighbours there for the drama and a cheeky valuation for their own property. Chances are, you’ve been part of ‘the audience’ at an auction at some point and who can blame you? When you’re not the one trying to buy the house, it’s very tempting to grab some popcorn and settle in for the show.
So imagine you’re bidding for a house and it’s already on the market and just below your maximum limit. You’ve got the last bid and it’s going once… going twice… and then suddenly some unseen figure raises their paddle and the bid goes up again, overshooting your budget. You look around to find the culprit who has outbid you but all you see is their mysterious silhouette lurking in the shadows. Much like the fictional Great Gatsby, this person is rich, elusive and seems to come out of nowhere to snatch away something you’ve worked hard for.
The Mexican Standoff
This person is just as enthusiastic as you are about the house, but the way they place their bids immediately after your own makes you feel like they have some sort of personal vendetta against you. The rapid back and forth of your bids are the like the spraying of bullets in a Mexican Standoff, and god forbid any other bidder gets caught in the crossfire. You often leave these standoffs with your head hanging low, dignity bruised at being outbid as you paused to take a breath.
So, the momentum of the auction is going well and the house seems just within your grasp. At the eleventh hour, this person pulls up in their sleek Merc and oversized sunnies and places a bid that knocks your budget out of the water. In true showstopper fashion, everyone forgets about you and the work you’ve put in over the last hour and the show is literally stopped as the auction abruptly draws to a close.
The ‘producer’ of the show is the owner of the property, anxiously peeking at the auction through the blinds and crossing their fingers for one more bid. Even if you think the auction is going well and you’re all bidding at reasonable prices, at the end of the day – the producer runs the show. Sometimes they put in ‘vendor bids’, which is not an actual bid to buy their own property but more of a ‘Take 2’ to announce that they’re not happy with the current bids and to keep moving forward.
The understudy is the naive, young bidder who gets swept up in the high-stakes excitement of the auction. Their ‘pick-me, pick-me’ attitude means they bid enthusiastically and not before long they’re in way over their heads, have blown through their budget and start praying for someone to outbid them.
Is there anyone we missed? Comment below with your own auction experiences!