There is no doubt that the most transformative development for auctions over the past twenty years has been the internet and online bidding. With potential buyers able to log in and bid from anywhere in the world, a typical auction might now have bidders taking part from dozens of countries around the world – and that’s on top of those bidding via the phone or commission. That’s good news for consignors, who now enjoy far larger audiences for their possessions, and good news for buyers, who can now gain access to multiple sales from the comfort of their armchair.
But with every bonus, there is also a catch: fewer people bother to come and bid in person in the saleroom. Why does this matter? In my opinion, it makes it more difficult to create an ‘atmosphere’ for any sale, making the auctioneer’s job a bit more challenging, but I also think that the less people visit auction houses, the more difficult it will be for them to grasp what a fantastic way this is of doing business for buyers and sellers.
So my advice is this: whether or not you end up bidding online, get to pre-sale viewings as often as possible and make sure you also attend the odd auction in person. That is the way to become a real expert and give yourself the edge in the long term.