top of page
  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

The word “estate” in the auction business …

The one word or phrase auctioneers have uttered more than any other is probably, “Sold!” A close second might be, “as-is” and our topic today involves maybe the third-most used word: “estate.”

When an auctioneer says the word, “estate” what does he or she mean?

The word “estate” has long roots, dating back to the 13th century.

Details can be found here: Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: September 20, 2013)

Today you might here an auctioneer say, “We’re having an estate auction,” or “We have a large estate up for auction,” or “We’re selling the entire estate,” or “It’s an estate auction, away from our auction facility.”

And all four meanings … have meaning.

The word “estate” in the auction industry has (at minimum) four different connotations:

  1. All of one’s possessions, belongings including real and personal property.

  2. The property belonging to such an entity as a result of death.

  3. A large, prominent, famous or sprawling real property.

  4. An onsite auction, versus an auction house or with multiple consignors.

We previously wrote about the allure of the estate auction (where someone is dead:)

But, these other uses of the word are just as valid, so long as they are not misleading; further, some states have enacted statutes which regulate usage of the word, “estate.”

Selling all of one’s possessions might legally be selling “an estate,” and/or selling a notable, large or well-known real property might be considered “an estate.”

The other definition is the most confusing, which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives uses per ATF Rul. 96-2. The ATF suggests that a Federal Firearms License (FFL) may not be required if conducting an “estate-type” auction. This usage is analogous to an onsite single-seller auction, versus a consignment auction.

The public should be aware that auction advertising containing the word “estate” may be suggesting any one of four scenarios. Auctioneers should — as always — be careful to accurately portray the circumstances behind each auction they’re conducting.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page