How to win at an auction

She is known as The Negotiator, and real estate sales expert Julia Ewert knows a thing or two about how to outwit, outplay and outlast the competition at an auction.

Here she shares her top tips for reading the competition at an auction using visual and verbal clues in

1. Your actions enhance competition

Enthusiasm is contagious by nature but is a killer in negotiations. By appearing too enthusiastic throughout the auction, you’ll increase the enthusiasm of those around you, which will drive the price higher. Play it cool and be composed to outlast the competition.

2. Never bid first

What’s the rush? Bidding first gives away your ace card, which is: “I want this property.’’ The more active a participant you are in the auction process, the more you’ll end up paying for the property as your behaviour is actually increasing competition.

If you can help yourself, bid last if you make it that far. In a picture-perfect auction situation, you’ll only bid once. You’ll come out of the shadows and land your sledgehammer of an offer at the eleventh hour when most of the competition have self-eliminated or are nearing their maximum. Your ability to come in then with your confident bid sends a signal of “I haven’t even got started yet.’’

Keeping your bids to a minimum is black-belt strategy to outwit your competition.

3. Read the non-verbals

People shuffling, sweating or fidgeting with their paddles or registration cards are likely all signs of nerves, which means they are emotionally invested.

Also watch out for silence. If the auctioneer directly asks someone for a bid, look for any hesitation, break in eye-contact or uncomfortable shifting. This is a sure sign they still have funds to play with, so they are still your competition. Otherwise, they would respond quickly and reject any suggestion of advancement.

4. Clues in couples

Couples are a gold mine of information at an auction, where one is likely be the bidder and the other will be side-line advising, or the token nervous wreck.

As bids increase, watch how they communicate. If they are already over their limit, they are likely to shift to become observers rather than participants, meaning they will disengage and relax their shoulders. They will also likely break eye contact with the auctioneer.

If they are still in the game and nearing their upper limit, they will begin whispering about whether they should increase or not. Also watch for eye contact here.

If there is a time a couple are saying nothing, but just looking into each others’ eyes, they are likely to be telepathically asking “what do you think?’’ This means they are stretching their upper limit or about to opt-out.

They could imminently walk away, which results in reduced competition, which is your advantage in outlasting.

Property Auction - 139 Sirius St, Coorparoo.

Ray White New Farm auctioneer Haesley Cush in action (AAP image, John Gass)

5. Smart phones are not so smart

Watch out for anyone making a last-minute phone call during the bidding process. This is usually a call of desperation asking permission to proceed over an already agreed amount.

Either way, these bidders busy on their phones are on the edge of opting out, so that’s your chance to opt-in!