Fairly recently, the buyer's premium was introduced to auctions. This is a fee that the auctioneer adds on top of the final bidding price -- a sort of commission for him or herself; a higher final price means a higher buyer's premium. What should you do if you find out there is a buyer's premium at the auction you plan to attend?
If you are selling items at auction, this is actually a great deal, because the buyer's premium comes off the commission you pay to the auctioneer and is instead charged to the buyer. That way, the seller gets more money, and the auctioneer gets the same amount he or she would have gotten if it had been charged to the seller. It's a good system for those on the business end of things -- though buyers might not be so enthusiastic about its existence. (And, in some cases, the commission actually ends up being more expensive with the premium than without, so if you plan on selling an item, do your research as if you were buying and figure out the math to get the better deal.)
Buyer's premiums usually run between 5 and 15%, meaning it will feel a lot like sales tax when you pay it. Generally, you won't end up needing to tack a huge amount more money onto the price, and some auctioneers don't even charge it at all. However, be aware that it exists and make sure you adjust your bid accordingly.
You can find out about whether or not a buyer's premium exists at the auction you're attending by speaking directly with the auctioneer -- this is a great way to get just about any important information you need to go about bidding. Some auction houses will have that information listed as well, so give them a call or shoot them an email.
If you go into an auction knowing you have $100 to spend, then keep a buyer's premium in mind by dropping your maximum bid to an amount that accommodates the percentage of increase when the fee is tacked on. For example, if you are buying an antique couch and have that $100, you could go in to a no-buyer's premium auction and bid $100 as your top bid. In an auction with a 10% premium, you have to drop your bid by 10%, meaning your cap bid is $90. This can get tricky, so you might want to make sure your phone has a calculator or else bring one along.
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