Auction Terms to Know

Auctions are a little different from a regular buying experience. Here’s a list of auction terms to know to help you become a savvy online bidder.

First, read everything in the Terms & Conditions of an auction. This will have everything you need to know about important dates and times like auction close and pick-up.

General Auction Terms

  • Bid: The offer you make on an item. We have a minimum required bid, bidding higher than that will set a max bid on that lot. 
  • Starting Bid: This is the starting point for an item and how much the first bids has to be. Some auctions vary a starting bid based on appraisals but we keep it simple. 95% of our auctions have starting bids of $5. 
  • Hammer Price: The price that an auction item goes for.
  • Lot: An item or group of items up for auction. A lot could be a vacuum cleaner or a pallet of flooring. It’s the item or items that fall under a single bid. Lots are identified by a “lot” number and the quantity can vary per auction. Small, inexpensive items get grouped together and larger or valuable items are usually alone in the lot.
  • Retail Value: This is the initial retail prices of an item or how much you would pay to buy this item off the shelf. Retail value does not take into account store promotions, clearance sales or any other discount.
  • Auction: A sale in which the item goes to the highest bidder. There are several different types of auctions.

Auction Nation Terms

  • Live Auction: This is what people think of when they think of an auction. There’s an auctioneer talking quickly, bidders are present and actively bidding. It’s quick and competitive. We don’t usually run live auctions, but we do have one live car auction a week. Our online auctions mimic a live auction but are more convenient.
  • Online Auction: An auction that takes place exclusively online. 95% of bidding at Auction Nation happens on our website and we only accept bidders that are registered with us. It’s a typical auction and we start bidding out low. Bidders compete by placing the higher bid. Auctions close at the scheduled time unless they’re extended by competitive bidding.
  • Buyer’s Premium: A service charge the buyer is responsible for. At Auction Nation, we charge Buyer’s Premium at 15% on every lot and in addition to tax. It’s important to keep these additional charges in mind as you continue to bid.
  • Extended Bidding: This is how we mimic an authentic bidding experience, “Going once…Going twice…sold!” every bid placed after the item technically closes, extends the timer by 3 minutes. If someone bids, the timer keeps going. If no more bids come in, the item closes and goes to the highest bidder.


  • Consignor: The consignor is the seller. They partner with Auction Nation to use our expertise and platform to conduct an online auction. Auctions from consignors are typically Onsites.
  • Onsite: This is an auction that takes place at a location, outside of our facilities. We don’t typically accept consignor items, instead, we help our consignors run auctions from their own locations whether that’s an estate or a warehouse. Bidders pick up items at the consignor’s location within the timeframe provided.
    • Hint: Generally, any business liquidation or estate auction will be an Onsite auction. Look for the red “onsite” label on auctions.
  • Preview:  This is the date and time the auction items are available for viewing. This is your chance to take a look at item condition and figure out what tools you’ll need for removal. Preview information can be found in the Terms & Conditions of all onsite auctions. Check out onsite auction tips.
  • Max Bid: The bidder can pick the most they’d pay for an item and the system will automatically outbid other bidders until the item reaches the set price. Setting a max bid will only outbid other bidders. For example, if you put a max bid of $200 on a rug and another bidder only bids up to $125. If no one else bids and the auction closes, you will win the item at $125, not $200.

Item Conditions & Guarantees

  • 24 Hour Guarantee: Guaranteed for ‘Functionality Only’ for 24 hours from the time of pick up OR 3 full days from the end of the auction, whichever comes first. On the 4th day, the guarantee is null and void. This Guarantee is for the functionality of the item and not the cosmetic condition, look, or general condition — this is an auction, not a boutique.
  • Operational: The information that we have on this item is that it was operational immediately prior to the auction. There is no warranty on “Operational” items. All sales are final, try to preview the item or do some research on functionality and repairs.
  • As-Is: Preview is recommended. We cannot guarantee this item’s working ability or that it doesn’t have a defect. Some parts or accessories may be missing that would affect its functionality. No refunds, chargebacks, or credit issued for this item after the auction. This is why it’s important to keep the condition in mind when you bid.
  • Untested: We are unable to test this item. This item has no warranty so we recommend previewing it to verify all parts and accessories are there. There are no refunds, chargebacks, or credit issued for this item after the auction.
  • More information on Item Conditions here.