How to bid at an auction by phone

Bidding at an auction by phone is becoming more popular. You may have noticed these bidders – mysteriously whispering into their phones and then bellowing out bids with unwavering confidence. Whilst some of these people are buyer’s agents, others are just experienced property buyers bidding on behalf of friends or family.

Why bid at an auction by telephone?

There are many reasons why you may prefer to bid at an auction by phone, rather than attending in person. These may include:

Geography: You may want to bid on a property that is rural or located interstate. Or you may want to bid at several auctions being held on the same day and can’t attend them all in person. If that’s the case, you may be better off organising someone to be there for you and work with them over the phone.

Nerves or inexperience with bidding: A lot of people feel nervous about bidding for themselves – it’s a normal reaction. It’s also normal to feel intimidated by other bidders, particularly if you’ve come face-to-face with some competitive types! Bidding over the phone can help you remain objective by keeping the excitement of the situation at arm’s length.

Avoid overspending: It’s easy to get carried away by the excitement at an auction and bid above your budget. If it’s a property you really want, it’s hard to stop adding another thousand when the object of your desires is only a few meters away – that’s why they often hold auctions at the property’s front door! It’s easier to stay in control if you place your bids remotely, because you can give your bidder an absolute spending limit.

What are the pros and cons?

Auctions can be loud and stressful, and bidding by phone can take a lot of the anxiety out of the experience. When the auctioneer starts spruiking and the crowd gathers, you won’t be distracted as you try to sort the sticky-beaks from the serious bidders. You’re more likely to remain calm on the other end of the phone, and go about things in a business-like fashion.

By the same token, not being able to see the other bidders can be a disadvantage, as you won’t be able to read their body language and gauge the competition. That’s where communication with your stand-in is essential! You may even like to use Skype, FaceTime or a similar app, so that you can “see” the competition during the auction.

How do you go about organising it?

The first step is to check that phone bids are accepted by the auctioneer, agent and vendor. If they are, you’ll most likely have to register and fill out a form beforehand nominating a stand-in to bid on your behalf. Then it’s simply a matter of nominating someone to bid for you. You may also like to organise your solicitor to be available in the event that yours is the winning bid.

What happens if the property is passed in and you want to negotiate?

If the bids do not meet the seller’s reserve, the property may be passed in or withdrawn from auction. If you are the highest bidder, you’ll have first dibs on negotiating with the seller. Your agent or contact on the other end can do this for you whilst you’re still on the phone, or can pass over the phone to the auctioneer or seller so you can speak with them directly.

How do you pay the deposit and sign on the dotted line if you succeed? When you fill out the paperwork to nominate your stand-in, you can specify how you’ll pay the deposit on the day if successful (usually 10 per cent of the purchase price). You can authorise the agent or auctioneer to complete a signed blank check, provide a signed bank cheque for 10 per cent of your maximum bid, authorise the stand-in to pay the deposit on your behalf, or transfer the money into the agent’s trust account.

In terms of the sale contract, you can nominate the authorised bidder or auctioneer to sign on your behalf. Alternatively, you may like to be present and go along to sign once the phone bidding is over, or tee up your solicitor to represent you beforehand.

Bidding at auction by phone could be a less stressful way of securing your dream home or investment property. It can also be more convenient if you’re not close by. Remember, organising pre-approval on a loan before the auction is vital, so please get in touch. With any luck, you’ll hear those magical words on the big day – “sold to the bidder on the phone!”


This article provides general information and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or loan product. It does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice and you should always seek professional advice in relation to your individual circumstances. All loan applications are subject to lenders’ terms and conditions, and eligibility criteria. Lender fees and charges will apply.

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Ben Judd

Ben Judd

Ben has made finance his life and has more than fifteen years experience in the banking and finance industry. Spending nearly a decade working for two massive Australian retail banks, Ben mastered the intricacies of the loan process from every conceivable angle. This insight proved a solid foundation before his move to mortgage broking in 2006. Ben has a superior level of product, loan structuring and general industry knowledge. This knowledge and Ben’s enthusiasm for tracking down the right product for his clients, guarantees complete satisfaction.

20th April 2018

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Ben Judd

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