Tips for bidding at an online auction

Tips for bidding at an online auction
Tips for bidding at an online auction

Online property auctions have been a growing trend in the world of real estate, as a service for interstate and international clients who are physically unable to attend auctions in person. Since the ban on open-house inspections was made by the Federal Government, with the majority of Australian living in Government-advised self-isolation and working from home to prevent further spread of the Coronavirus, more people are taking an interest in online auctions.

There has also been a surge of online off-the-plan enquiries, online inspections, digital walk-throughs, and demand for VIP appointments and online property auctions. 

Whether auctions are in-person or online, they are a highly competitive environment, which can seem like a daunting option for many property seekers. To help you bid in an auction with confidence, here are some tips that could help you win your dream home.

Do your research

Navigating the real estate environment during COVID-19 has been challenging, with many homebuyers relying on real estate websites and online resources to provide them with sufficient information. 

Whether you intend on living in the property or renting it out as an investment, you will need to ensure you are well prepared and informed. 

It is advised that prior to bidding or purchasing a property prospective owners should complete their own research on various different properties, sale prices, surrounding amenities and real estate data on neighbouring suburbs or cities. 

Looks can be deceiving 

Property inspections allow prospective buyers to visit the house in person and envision whether the home suits their lifestyle or standard of living. Real estate agencies affected by the ban on open houses are sharing more photographs, floorplans, and walkthrough videos to help assist with the visual aspect of buying property remotely.

While this does provide buyers with a clearer view of the property, it is important to remember that looks can be deceiving as some properties can be manipulated to appear better looking on paper or in photos than they do in person. 

There are also a number of features to look out for during an inspection, which can't necessarily be seen in photographs or in a video. These can include the quality of materials used in the build and the itemisation of inclusions and optional upgrades. This information can be obtained by requesting a full material breakdown, and by talking with the sales agent about what is included in the property price. 

Some agencies are still allowing in-person tours for VIP appointments if you do have the opportunity to attend a house inspection has created a step-by-step home inspection checklist

Read up on the rules

Prospective buyers can prepare for an online auction by familiarising themselves with the rules and regulations of the auction, paying the deposit and registering themselves on any necessary platforms. 

Deposit registration

As mentioned above, prospective buyers participating in the auction are required to pay a deposit prior to placing a bid. This ensures that everyone that participates is genuinely interested in the property and has followed all the necessary procedures. 

Some agencies accept deposits through bank cheques while others request direct monetary funds transferred through internet banking or trust. 

It is important that you always check that the selling agency has received your deposit prior to bidding, as buyers that win the auction but fail to transfer the deposit risk losing the property altogether. 

Think fast 

Property auctions can be competitive and fast-paced, so first-time online bidders should ensure that they are not left behind by ensuring they are well prepared.

Some bidders may be more invested in a property than others, and will refuse to back down by placing larger bids than others. The best way to avoid being intimidated is to not hesitate and place a counter bid immediately after theirs. 

Since the auction is taking place online and you are unable to read the facial expressions of other bidders, placing a counter bid directly after another person's offer can show confidence (just make sure you set yourself a limit). 


Observe the patterns other bidders are using. For example, some bidders may start low and build their way up, others may only watch the bids and then surprise their competitors with a high number, and lastly, some will quickly counter bid their opponents immediately after a bid. 

Observing how others manoeuvre and behave in an auction early on in the bidding, can help you plan your own strategy. 

Throw in an odd number

There is a popular belief that you have to place a bid with a round number such $200,000 and whilst most auctioneers prefer them, you can bid an odd number to throw off other bidders. Throwing in a bid with an odd number such as $203,000 may come as a surprise to many new bidders, and could potentially disrupt their strategy or rhythm they have developed throughout the auction. 

This will also help buy you time to strategise which bidders are in for the long run and which ones will begin to drop out. 

Some people also create a budget prior to bidding at an auction, for example, they may set their limit to $600,000 and no more. If you throw in a large odd number by surprise such as $607,000 they are often more likely to quickly drop out which can help you win faster or eliminate the majority of your competition. 


There are many different tactics and strategies that can be used to win an auction, but the most important can only be utilised if you complete all the necessary paperwork and research. 

And while you do need to place the highest bid to win an auction, a tactful bidder could have a greater chance of beating their competitors.

Shantelle-Ann Marquis

Shantelle-Ann Marquis

Shantelle-Ann is a journalist at, with experience in urban planning reporting, and an interest in architecture, development and real estate.

Auction off-the-plan


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