We all get nervous and make mistakes under pressure. Auctions are no different but when you’re battling it out with thousands of dollars on the line, it’s best to minimise the slip-ups. Bidding against yourself might not seem like something you could just accidentally do, but believe us it happens more often than you’d think!
Even seasoned bidders don’t always see it coming because during the chaos and stress of an auction, psychological trickery is at play! Word patterns and phrases designed to tap into your subconscious are used by the selling agent to increase your bid. Never succumb to the pressure of raising your bid if you’re already the highest bidder.
One common phrase they may slip in and which may seem innocent is “let’s be fair”. You’ll already be the highest bidder and everyone else will have stopped bidding, but the selling agent will give you a line like “we’ve almost reached the reserve, I need you give me another $20k”. Then when no one raises the bid they’ll drop the reserve by $10k and pull the old “let’s be fair, meet me halfway” and because no one wants to be publicly shamed and seen as unfair we bid against ourselves!
These tricks work because of what’s called “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” and it works best when we’re not thinking clearly in the heat of the moment. But don’t feel bad if you’ve fallen prey, the police even use these techniques to interrogate people.
If you do end up bidding against yourself, the selling agent will then go to the vendor and tell them they’ve gotten the highest bidder up by $10k but they need them to drop the reserve to the highest bid so they can call it on the market. What they’re hoping is that by calling it on the market, buyer’s that went silent will come back out to bid. However, it is a gamble and if no one else bids, then the property is knocked down to the highest bidder and sold without another bid being made.
The question you should be asking though, if you’re the highest bidder in this scenario, is did you just throw away $10k? Had you put on your psychological armour before battle and deflected the selling agents attempts to publicly guilt you into raising your own bid, would the vendor have come down to meet your offer? You’ll never know!
Sometimes your deflecting armour isn’t even enough because sometimes the attack comes from within. Auctions can be so high energy that bidders have been known to outbid themselves in the confusion and excitement of the pace. It sounds absurd, but is easy to lose track of your bid if you’re not relaxed and calm during the frenzy. And hey, the auctioneer certainly doesn’t mind!
So next time you’re bidding at an auction, take a moment to check you’re not fighting on both sides of the battle.