top of page
  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Why aren’t auctioneers saying, “Sold!?”

I pose this question simply, and not in regard to some backward way of asking why auctioneers aren’t selling something, or doing more or less business. I ask: “Why aren’t auctioneers saying, ‘Sold!?'”

When I attended auction school, decades ago, I remember distinctly (the very first day) that we were taught to say, “Sold!” when we concluded our bid calling, and then announce the price, and then the buyer number.

At our school, The Ohio Auction School, we teach the very same thing to our students. We find the following benefits of such:

  1. It is clearly understood by all bidders that now bidding is closed

  2. It succinctly ends the opportunity for the high bidder to retract his or her bid

  3. It underscores the urgency for bidders to bid promptly if they want to buy

  4. It gives the auction a jolt of excitement and immediacy

  5. It communicates to the seller in no uncertain terms they cannot withdraw their item

  6. It alerts the clerk and other staff that the price and buyer number are forthcoming

What do some auctioneers do instead of saying, “Sold!?” I’ve seen and heard the following methods used over the years:

  1. “It’s yours,” or “Right here,” or something similar

  2. “Anyone give $35, $35, $35? $30, to number …”

  3. “Bidding is concluded at …”

  4. “He’s got it at …”

  5. “You bought it at …”

  6. Gavel bangs the podium …”$30 to number …”

Now, before anyone concludes that there are any legal problems with not saying, “Sold!” please note that there are not. Per the UCC 2-328 (2): A sale by auction is complete when the auctioneer so announces by the fall of the hammer or in other customary manner.

So, any “customary manner” of closing the bid is the same thing as saying, “Sold!” It’s just that it seems to me, and many others, that the best way to conclude bidding is to announce, in no uncertain terms, the item is indeed, “Sold!”

Which brings us to a related legal point. I had an auctioneer tell me, “I don’t ever say, “Sold” at my auctions …” I had to ask why, and the reason given was that this allowed other bidders to still bid up until the contract was signed (real property), and allowed the seller more time to entertain other bids, and/or decide if he wanted to withdraw the property.

So, if I understand this correctly, and applying it to real estate scenarios, the “Sold” in this case would be when a buyer and the seller both had lifted their pens from the contract signing, thus reducing the transaction to writing.

Let’s just say that at an auction, a bidder did come up and offer more than what was offered at the time most auctioneers would have said, “Sold!” but this particular auctioneer had not yet said that … that higher bid could be entertained (unless legally, the auction was closed in some other ‘customary fashion’ which opens us to other legal issues). However, if that auctioneer had the reputation of saying, “Sold!” and closing the auction as such, that last-minute bidder would have known to go ahead and bid before the, “Sold!” to allow his bid to be accepted, right?

By not saying, “Sold!” in this auctioneer’s scenario, the completeness of a sale by auction is not materially changed, just delayed. This auctioneer says, “Sold” but says it later, after both parties sign.

Dangerous to conclude an auction without completing the sale? I think so, if for no other reason than the buyer can retract his bid up until the auctioneer announces “Sold!” or the like. By not saying “Sold!” the seller is left with his item, personal or real, in limbo and subject to there being no bids at all as the clock ticks, ticks, ticks … to the contract signing.

Or, from the high bidder’s standpoint, why wouldn’t that bidder ask, “Am I the high bidder? Are you taking no other bids? What’s going on here? Is the auction over or not?” Good questions from our high bidder, which would all be answered by one word: “Sold!”

From the International Auctioneer Championship sponsored by the National Auctioneers Association, to countless state championships, to local auctioneer contests, to thousands of auctions all over the United States nearly every day, attendees will hear the word, “Sold!” to conclude an auction. Yet, in some markets, or areas, I rarely hear the word?

I wonder if the NAA International Auctioneer Championship winner (Men’s division) in 2007, Bryan Knox, for example, said “Sold!” at the conclusion of his items? (I already know, but if you want to watch, and hear, here’s his presentation):

It seems saying, “Sold!” is a very clear communication to all parties involved, and to all auction staff and onlookers. There are other methods used, but I do wonder why.

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 is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page