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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Is the minimum bid really the minimum bid?

What does this sign say? It says the minimum speed is 40 miles per hour. So, what if you are going 37 miles per hour? Such would constitute a violation of this law.

What if an auctioneer says, “This property’s minimum bid is $550,000” and then it sells at auction for $520,000? The advertising said the minimum bid was $550,000 so conceivably someone willing to pay any less need not participate …

I believe it’s dangerous to advertise a minimum bid for any other amount than the actual minimum bid.

  1. If the advertised minimum bid is less than the actual minimum bid (which we discussed here: that’s certainly problematic.

  2. If the advertised minimum bid is higher than what the seller might accept — that’s dangerous as well.

The issue is false advertising in either case. When the minimum bid (nominal opening bid) really isn’t, that’s likely fraudulent inducement; if the minimum bid is higher than it might be otherwise then a potential buyer who didn’t participate — willing to pay $530,000 in our prior example — has a case.

This is all about being fair, honest, ethical and forthright — if the advertised minimum bid is ‘X’ then it should be exactly that — ‘X’ and not “X – Y” nor “X + Y” nor any other number …

Further, from a marketing prospective if “X” is more (or close) to the property’s market value, it might be better left unpublished. In other words, publish good news and not bad news.

As you’re driving, and see the above sign — ask yourself: “Is the minimum speed actually 40 or is it 43, 37, 51, 26 or some other number?” It clearly says 40 so you should be thinking that’s the actual minimum (bid) speed, right?

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, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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