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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Auctioneers advocate for what?

Sometimes I wake up and wonder what planet I’m on. In fact, I’ve written that phrase before. Today, I am learning that a select group of auctioneers advocate for less disclosure and no expressed prospect of a deal to attract bidders.

That’s right — keep information secret and don’t indicate at all that there might be a chance — not even a slight chance — to get a deal. This is where the “What planet am I on?” comes in. This is the equivalent of telling bidders nothing other than they will likely have to pay full price or it’s a no-sale.

On the other hand, countless auctioneers believe with more disclosure and projecting the “prospect of a deal” (not a guarantee of a deal, incidentally) that they attract more bidders and therefore secure higher prices at their auctions. Why do they believe this? They practice what they preach.

If you don’t believe me … think of a state lottery. The lottery has a $1,000,000 prize — you buy a ticket? The lottery has a $100,000,000 prize — you buy a ticket? The lottery has an “undisclosed” prize (which may or may not be awarded) — you buy a ticket?

This select group of fanatical “seller confirmation” auctioneers think bidders are attracted to uncertainty where the property may sell or may not sell. Further, these same fanatics tell me that if we keep it secret the least the seller will accept, and bidders will respond even more excitedly.

Yes, the contention is to give the bidders no idea if the property is selling or not, and no idea what it will take to buy it. It’s a wonder other retailers haven’t adopted this same strategy — “We can’t tell you the price and we don’t know if we’ll sell anything to you.”

The fanatics also claim auctioneers who do not have “seller confirmation” auctions are taking rights away from sellers and are not loyal to their clients. I would counter the sellers are giving these auctioneers the right to sell absolute or with academic published minimum bids, and they are obedient and loyal in following their wishes.

Oh, also, the fanatics say that once an auctioneer books a “without reserve” (absolute) or disclosed minimum bid auction, the auctioneers “don’t care anymore” and “tout their arrogance” that they got the deal that guarantees their paycheck — whereas the opposite is actually true.

You see, they’ve seen “without reserve” auctions fail … so they are all bad. I’ve witnessed countless “with reserve” — especially “seller confirmation” — auctions fail … so they’re all bad too? Finding one auction (whichever type) isn’t proof all are bad. However, substantial research suggests more disclosure increases the bidder pool, and bidders respond to the “prospect of a deal.”

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, and formerly at 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 Auction Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He has served as 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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