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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Auctions & woefully uninformed reporting

The Centralia, Washington Police Department is now using eBay to sell seized goods, instead of traditional auctioneers. An article in The Chronicle Newspaper noted that auctioneers “hawk” goods in a less than transparent environment.

In fact, most auctioneers don’t hawk anything and use completely transparent methods to sell goods to bidders all over the world for the highest prices obtainable. The reporter who authored this story is woefully uninformed about the contemporary auction marketplace.

eBay’s marketplace is vast, but the items sell on an online-only timed auction format, instead of the preferred “soft close” format of most auctioneer software, with in most cases similar audiences. A live auction also uses a “soft close.” The President of the National Auctioneers Association wrote a letter to the editor with an accurate portrayal of the auction market in the United States:

In your article posted Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, titled, “Centralia Police Department to Sell Seized And Unclaimed Property Online,” the reporter left your readers with an inaccurate picture of the nature of the modern auction house — and auctioneers. In the article, the reporter stated, “instead of brick-and-mortar auction houses that can use less than transparent means to hawk the goods.” This statement is untrue and not supported by the evidence. Auctioneers and auction houses across the state of Washington and around North America offer both chattel property and real estate every day in a method that is fast, fun and transparent. Local auctioneers are just that — local. Any modern auction house would offer the unclaimed items of the Centralia Police Department both locally and nationally. Most auction houses offer both live and online auction solutions, a breadth which delivers the best chance at achieving true market value. And, since these auction houses are local and members of the community, they will work with those who might have limited or no online access, or have difficulty with the bidding process. Finally, the reporter quoted Chief Stacy Denham as describing eBay as an “unbiased” marketplace. eBay is not, by any definition, a true auction. The countdown timer, in fact, favors those with snipping [sniping] tools and does not allow bidders to defend their prior high bids once time has expired. The vast majority of auctioneers and auction houses who offer online auctions utilize modern online auction software that allows for the bidding to be extended and for everyone to participate, not just those with fast internet connections. A live or simulcast auction will allow bidders without online access, or who prefer bidding in person, the best of both options. We invite you and your readers to further engage with us on how auctions work every day for sellers and buyers in Washington state and beyond by visiting Sincerely, Beth Rose, CAI, AARE, AMM

Further, the Police Chief described eBay as “unbiased?” In what regard? How is an auctioneer biased? How is an auctioneer (or auction house) not unbiased? It would appear the Chief is, as well, woefully uninformed about the contemporary auction marketplace.

The highest, most valuable property anywhere sells at auction, with those auctions conducted and/or managed by auctioneers. If you, your neighbor, coworker, friend, family member, or anyone else — including the Centralia, Washington Police Department — wants to maximize price in a transparent competitive environment, contact your local auctioneer and you’ll almost assuredly be in good hands.

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 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 and Western College of Auctioneering. 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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