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5 Ways to Buy Bargains at an Agricultural Auction

5 Ways to Buy Bargains at an Agricultural Auction

Auctions follow one simple rule: the highest bidder always wins. It’s a numbers game where goods go to a person who’s willing to pay top dollar for them. There’s no room for hesitation in an auction; either you go big or go home.

Agricultural or farm auctions are no different. Farm owners will do everything to cut their expenses wherever possible by buying second hand tools and machines. While technology has improved the output of farms over the years, it has also increased their overheads. Many farms have closed over the decades due to shrinking profit margins.

You can expect to spend wads of cash in an auction, but it’s better if you can win a bid for less. In most cases, winning in auctions all boils down to two things: research and disposition. You’d want to look at what’s going up before the big day, but don’t get swept up by the thrill of a bidding war, especially if you’re new to all this.

If you’re looking for an extra tractor or set of power tools, a farm auction can save you in the long run but only if you tread lightly while considering the following tips.

See Items in Advance

Most auctions allow people to look at the items going up for bidding, either online or hours before the auction starts. During this preview period, you can check their overall condition and take your priority picks. This way, you can avoid bidding on things not worth your hard-earned cash.

You’d want to do both: search up the lots on the auction’s website days before and get to the venue hours early for a closer look. It’ll help you better decide if an item’s still worth pursuing when the auction begins.

Consider Other Costs

In any regrettable decision ever made, regret always comes too late. Imagine getting a second hand tractor from an auction on a steal, only to find out that you’ve spent as much just trying to get it to work correctly. Suddenly, that steal bid doesn’t seem like a bargain at all.

For the record, a second hand farm auction is one of the best auctions to buy affordable equipment. They offer tools and machines from big brands, so quality is almost assured. Then again, you can’t tell if the item will start acting up until after buying it.

For this reason, you should always factor in the cost of repair or maintenance work that may occur after the purchase. An item that costs as much to fix or maintain as your winning bid, if not more, is a bad investment.

Set a Bidding Cap

Just as in a casino, it’s easy to get carried away in an auction. Casual bids can escalate into bidding wars between the most avid attendees—and these conflicts know no person. You can get involved in one if there’s another person eyeing the same item. The worst thing you can do at this point is handing your decision-making reins to your emotions.

If you’ve done your homework prior, you can determine your bidding cap. Staying below this limit will help you save money by focusing on the items you can afford. The last thing you need is going bankrupt after going all-in on a few items.

Prioritize Quality Listings

Auction listings that contain plenty of information, from the item’s current state to credentials from certifying agencies, are more convincing to potential buyers. Sellers know this too well and always try to augment as many details as possible in their listings.

These details are another excellent reason to conduct your research before the start of any auction. Search for listings that can address as many questions or reservations you might have as possible. Even if the starting price may be higher, it’s still a bargain if the details check out.

Avoid Peak-Attendance Days

Sometimes, having fewer competitive bidders in an auction can help you secure bargain purchases. To do this, consider attending auctions that don’t fall on dates when people have more disposable income, such as on payday or a day or two after that. Also, keep in mind that Fridays can also be peak days, as some attendees get paid weekly.


The highest bidder may win an auction, but it doesn’t mean bidding to the point of going bankrupt. With due diligence and a bit of emotional restraint, any item in an auction will be in your hands in no time and for far less. Agricultural auctions work the same way.

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by Dirk DeBie // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.