How to bid at auction

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The bidding has reached the $790,000 mark when the auctioneer lets the 30 or so people gathered in the street “in on a little secret” – the property is on the market. In the space of 10 seconds, the bidding rises in increments of $10,000 seven times.

The auctioneer paces back and forth. He pitches to the bidders with the intonation of a horse-racing commentator. Murmurs in the throng are hushed.

Bidders stoop into mini-conferences with their allies and continue to pop up raised fingers.

It’s at $941,000 that the show really reaches its denouement. The auctioneer scans the crowd carefully and eagerly, hammer cocked suggestively in the air, goading the audience for another $500.

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