Stephen Roberts (Auctioneer) Ltd. CLICK HERE to View General Sale

Advice for Buyers


It is easy to bid at an auction but people are often nervous about it. The best approach is to stand in a position where you can see and be seen by the Auctioneer. When you wish to join the bidding, make a clear signal to the Auctioneer by raising your hand or nodding. He will acknowledge your bid and invite you to bid again if somebody else makes a higher offer. Shake your head or turn away if you do not want to bid again. If you win the bidding, the Auctioneer will 'knock down' the item to you, confirm the purchase price and record your bidding number or name. It can be useful to attend one or two auctions before attempting to bid to familiariase yourself with the routine and get used to the Auctioneer's 'patter'. If you have difficulty understanding the Auctioneer, listen for the prices rather than what is said in between.

If The Auctioneer Misses Your Bid

If you tried to bid on a lot, but the Auctioneer did not see you and sells the lot to another bidder, you can ask for the lot to be re-offered. However, you must do this IMMEDIATELY. If the next lot has been called the Auctioneer cannot go back.

Buyer's Premium

Although at Watton Salerooms we do not charge a Buyer's Premium on our General Auction, most Auctioneers now charge a Premium on top of the hammer price. This is a commission paid by the buyer and should be taken into consideration when you bid. The rate charged will be publicised in the Salerooms or catalogue and may be anything from 5% to 25% plus VAT.


Some items sold at auction may be subject to VAT. The Auctioneer will make bidders aware of this either verbally or in the catalogue. If you are a VAT Registered trader you can claim back all VAT on the hammer price but you can only claim back VAT on a Buyer's Premium if the goods purchased are also subject to VAT.

Collection of Goods

Make sure you find out how long you have to collect purchases. Some auctions take place in hired premises so goods have to be removed on the day of sale. You may be able to arrange storage or delivery but make sure you agree a price before hand.

Electrical Goods

Trading Standards require Auctioneers to have electrical items tested for electrical safety by a qualified, insured electrician prior to sale. The test ensures the item is safe in the condition in which it is offered for sale. It is not a guarantee that the item is in working order and becomes invalid if you subsequently carry out work on the appliance (eg. fitting a new plug). At Watton Salerooms lots that pass the safety test carry a green sticker. Items that fail the safety test carry a red sticker and can only be sold to traders as scrap or for spares.

Soft Furnishings

Unless items such as armchairs and beds were manufactured before 1950, they must comply with current fire safety regulations and carry a label to that effect.