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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Bidders — buyers — “ghosting” auctioneers

Do bidders who bid and win at auction … and then cease any further communication with the auctioneer/seller deserve our further attention? It would appear to me some auctioneers spend more time trying to find this bidder (buyer) than it would to simply resell the property?

We previously wrote about the UCC § 2-706 and the fairly simple steps needed to resell and continue to assist your seller rather than chasing a buyer who is very likely to not respond nor pay: We were hired to sell the property, right?

We recently “sold” a car at auction to a buyer whose credit card was declined, and didn’t respond to email, text, nor voicemail. So, we sold the car again in compliance with the UCC § 2-706 and subsequently paid our seller … and moved on. Our client was very satisfied with our decision, and we ultimately earned our commission as well.

Online auctions have vastly amplified cases of bidders being denoted as the buyer and then disappearing. It’s certainly more difficult to “ghost” someone when you have to attend the live auction in person in order to bid. In either case, however, it’s best to move forward rather than spend largely unproductive time pursuing someone who isn’t apt to cooperate.

Since our venture into online auctions, we have had this issue only periodically, and our results have been mixed — about 42% of the time we get more money via the second auction, about 58% of the time we get less, and we’ve only pursued one prior “buyer” for damages and won.

It costs time and money to pursue buyers who don’t pay, and it costs time and money to sue buyers for damages when the second auction results are materially less than the first. If the second auction is satisfactory, it’s very likely the best strategy is to forget about this first “buyer” — other than banning him/her from future auctions.

Several auctioneers, sellers, and their attorneys have called me for advice on this issue, and each time I encouraged them to mitigate their damages per state law and resell the property. I’ve received many thanks for this insight — and equally many reports from the same wishing this information had been available when exhaustive collection efforts proved futile.

Incidentally, many auctioneers tout the saying, “Some will. Some won’t. Who cares. Who’s next?” While we hold looking for quality sellers should be an endless pursuit, cooperative buyers are much easier to find.

Are you an auctioneer/seller who’s being “ghosted?” Our recommendation is to continue to serve your seller by finding a new buyer who’s not being a ghost, and proving to be a buyer who is paying and taking possession. You have far better things to do than chase ghosts.

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 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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