Auction FAQ

I want to go to an auction, what should I know before I bid?
Understand the type of auction you are participating in (absolute, reserve, etc.) and make sure to review the complete terms and conditions of the sale. You will want to arrive early to register for the auction. Certain auctions (i.e. real estate) may require a cashier’s check or other payment in advance of the auction to qualify you to bid in the auction.

If you are attending an auction with a live element, you will want to bid in sync with the chant. You should be listening closely and following the increasing bids. Remember: The number the auctioneer is repeating is where the bid is and what the auctioneer is now accepting.

I want to hire an auctioneer. Where do I start my search and what should I know?
If you are considering an auction for your personal or business assets, consider the following tips:

  • Whether it be real estate, art or automobiles, select an NAA Auction Professional with expertise in your particular type of sale. NAA Auction Professionals are at the top of their field in the auction business. Members are professionals well versed in the psychology of selling. Their education, commitment to the NAA Code of Ethics, expertise and networking capabilities stimulate competition among bidders, securing you the highest prices for your assets.
  • Ask for references, attend one of their auctions and learn about auctions firsthand.
  • Take an active role in the marketing and advertising of your assets.
  • Make sure to fully review all contracts, terms and conditions of the auction with a legal expert.

How do I become an auctioneer?
Find out about license requirements.
While some states require a license to be an auctioneer, others do not. Likewise, some specific types of auctions may require a special license. Find out what is required in your city, county and/or state to make sure you are abiding by all laws.

Get educated. Before becoming an auctioneer, you should seriously consider attending auction school. These schools provide aspiring auctioneers with the training and education needed to learn the art of bid calling, marketing, operating an auction business and more.

Can I attend an auction and participate as a spectator and not bid?
We encourage people to explore auctions by attending one as a spectator. There is no better way to learn about auctions than to watch one firsthand.

Who’s the person yelling in the audience at an auction?
The person you see and hear working amongst the crowd of bidders is known as a ringman. This individual is part of the auction team and is an extension of the auctioneer. The job of the ringman is to convey bids back to the auctioneer from the crowd. When bids are received in the crowd, the ringman will yelp to signal the auctioneer that they have received a bid and to increase the bid amount. These individuals are also there to help answer questions you may have while the auction is being conducted.

What is the auctioneer saying?
The art of perfecting the auctioneer’s cry take years of practice, but understanding what auctioneers are saying is simple. The auctioneer’s bid call can be broken into two parts:

  • Statement (The Current Bid) – I have five dollars.
  • Question (The Next Bid) – Would you bid 10?

Example: I have 5 dollars, would you bid 10, would you bid 10? Now 10, I have 10 dollars, would you bid 15…

The cadence and repetition of words and use of “filler words” vary from one auctioneer to another, but the format is usually the same. Always remember that the number the auctioneer keeps repeating is the dollar amount they are wanting.

If I scratch my nose or wave at a friend, will the auctioneer think I’m bidding?
We hear this misconception a lot! In fact, to bid at an auction or for your bid to be received by the auctioneer, you typically need a bid paddle or bid card. You will receive this bid paddle or card at registration and it will have a number on it. This number allows the auction company to know who is bidding from the list of registered bidders. If you mistakenly bid or the auctioneer misinterprets your movement as a bid, immediately notify either the auctioneer or their staff.

Am I required to have cash on hand at the auction?
It is important that prospective bidders read all documents regarding the sale prior to auction day. Cash payment is commonly not required at auctions. Auction companies may accept multiple forms of payment: cash, check or credit card. When attending real estate auctions, auction companies may at times require a specific down payment on-site in the form of a cashiers check to qualify as a bidder.

Are auctions only for distressed or discounted property?
This is a major misconception about auctions. The fact is auctions are the primary sales method when selling valuable assets such as vintage vehicles, multi-million dollar homes and priceless pieces of art. The competitive bidding of an auction and the bidding of prospective bidders sets the price and market value of an asset. The item will not sell for more than the highest bid and will not sell for less than the high bid. You, the consumer, and other bidders determine the market value of an item when you buy at auction.

What are the differences between an absolute and reserve auction?
Absolute Auction:
An “absolute auction” is an auction where the property is sold to the highest bidder. There is not a minimum or reserve price that must be met to complete the auction sale.

Reserve Auction: A “reserve” auction means that a price has been set between the seller and the auctioneer that must be met to complete the sale. Reserves are often used to provide the seller with security that they receive at certain amount of money to meet their sale goal.

What is a Buyer’s Premium?
A buyer’s premium is commonly used in auctions today as a form of payment for the auction company conducting the auction. The buyer’s premium is an advertised percentage of the high bid or flat fee added on to the high bid to determine the total contract price to be paid by the buyer.

What does “As Is, Where Is” mean?
One of the most common statements made at auction, “as is, where is,” simply means the property is being sold without warranty and that there are no contingencies based on the status of the asset being sold. It is important that you inspect all auction properties before you bid, both real estate and personal property. Photos may not show all the details or potential faults with the asset and it is your job as a well informed bidder to thoroughly inspect and know what you are bidding on BEFORE the start of the auction. Once you bid and buy an asset at auction, you are the new owner.

Can I inspect the property I’m interested in bidding on before the auction?
We encourage you to view the property before auction day. Due diligence on the part of the bidder is important with auctions. Contact the auction company managing the auction and inquire about times when open houses will take place, as well as any paperwork available on the property. Auctioneers want you to feel comfortable on auction day. Always feel free to call and ask questions.

What is a minimum bid?
Minimum bids are routinely used at auctions to provide prospective buyers with an initial price range of where bidding will begin. If an auction has a “minimum bid” of $50,000, prospective bidders will know that the auction will start with an opening bid of $50,000 and that the asset will not sell for anything less than $50,000. Often times, auctions are advertised with an “opening bid”, but this should not be confused with a “minimum bid”. An “opening bid” simply means a price where the bidding opens.

Courtesy of : The National Auctioneers Association

You are invited to join the MAA!

The Montana Auctioneers Association is an Association of professionals who have organized to promote and advance the auction profession.

The rapid changes occurring in auctioneering make membership in an association a MUST for the auctioneer who is truly a professional.

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