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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Ask an auctioneer if it’s trash or treasure

There may be no better person to talk to if you are trying to discern if this “thing” is trash or treasure. Auctioneers are exposed to all types of property and are by far the most knowledgable about all types of personal and real property, and/or they know how to find out.

I remember well maybe 30 years ago we met a client in her home to sign the contract and start preparing for the auction. One of my staff went to the garage to start working in that area, while I went into the dining room with boxes, tape, bags, and paper/pen.

Soon my staff member came to me with several trash bags, all full of presumable trash. However, we found over $20,000 in items in those “trash bags” and that amount exceeded what remained in most of the rest of the house. One such paper mache Christmas ornament — that had been thrown away — demanded $1,800 at the auction.

This is just one example of thousands of instances every single day where auctioneers help sellers maximize value and relieve those clients from the burden of identifying and researching countless personal property items. For that matter, auctions maximize prices realized for real property as well in customarily a shorter time frame than traditional sales methods.

However, there is the other side of this story, more or less “thought to be treasure … but maybe trash.” There may not be an auctioneer out there who didn’t have to deliver the bad news as well — where a seller mistakenly thinks it’s valuable, but it’s not.

For example, a seller in Missouri had consulted us about his “one-of-a-kind” Roseville vase — one he thought might be worth $10,000 or more, when in fact it was worth more like $75. We wrote more about sophism and this particular auction here:

Auctions are known as “open price discovery” events, where property sells for what it’s worth — not more and not less. Further, auctioneers cannot make anything demand a higher price than what someone is willing to pay, and of course, that’s commonly known as how “market value” is defined.

Have a situation where you have property to sell and not sure the value? Contact an auctioneer to ensure you don’t sell (or throw away) any property for less than it’s worth and contact an auctioneer so that you don’t end up not selling property you thought was worth much more than it actually was.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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