Whether you’re selling prized property or looking to buy one-of-a-kind treasures, an auction is just the place to make things happen!
While some might view it as complicated and time consuming, a fast-paced auction is one of the most efficient ways of converting your property or assets into immediate cash. In fact, over a quarter-trillion dollars in goods and services are sold at auction every year in the U.S. With the combination of pre-sale marketing and the auctioneer’s chant and/or an attention-grabbing online bidding platform, you could have enthusiastic, attentive buyers aggressively competing to purchase your property.
There’s an excitement about an auction that makes it a special event that draws people again and again. People participate in auctions out of curiosity about what unique or interesting items are for sale. There’s even more curiosity among bidders when it comes to the prices obtained at auction. By talking to auction professionals, sellers and other buyers, auctions can be a great way to learn about real estate, art, autos, furniture and more, sellers and auction professionals. You learn about values, construction of items, collection practices and much more when you participate in an auction.
An auctioneer’s role goes far beyond the speed of the chant. NAA Auction Professionals are entrepreneurs who excel in marketing and advertising. The primary role of an auction professional is to develop a marketing campaign to promote the sale of their client’s assets and attract bidders to their auction. Many auctioneers are also appraisers and experts in their field of sales (i.e. art, antiques, machinery, etc.).
How Auctions Work
When you arrive at the auction site you may need to register with the auctioneers in order to obtain a bidding number, the information required is usually your name and address and you may also need to pay a returnable deposit. You should be familiar with the registration requirements for the particular auction before you arrive in case a large deposit is required.
If you have not viewed the lots for auction prior to the auction day you will need to allow yourself time to inspect your prospective purchases before the auction starts if this is allowed, some auctions may not allow you to view the lots other than in the specified viewing dates and times, with some “catalogue” auctions you may not be allowed to view the lots after the auction has started. You should confirm these details with the auctioneers prior to the auction date.
When a lot you are interested in bidding on comes up for sale the auctioneer will announce the lot number ( either found in the catalogue next to the item or placed on the item during the viewing period ) and give a brief description of the item usually tied to the description given in the catalogue.
A starting bid will be suggested by the auctioneer and usually bidding will start below this price so do not assume the auctioneers starting bid is the lowest price available. If the item has a reserve price the auctioneer will often start the bidding above this price and reduce the start bid towards the reserve price until a bid is made. The auction catalogue will usually display a guide price for the item which is above the items reserve price.
You are free to start bidding at any time after the auctioneer has announced the starting bid. Some auctions especially liquidations, bankruptcies and receiverships have no reserve prices so give it a little time before you start your bidding, if there are no other bidders your first bid may be the price you pay.
If similar lots are listed together in the catalogue and you are the buyer of the first lot you may then have the option to purchase the similar lots at the same price as the first. When bidding it is usual to get the auctioneers attention by raising your hand or making some other clear gesture to the auctioneer followed by the amount you wish to bid if different to the auctioneers announced price. Now you have started bidding the auctioneer will return to you every time the bid is against you to see if you wish to raise your offer, a clear shake of the head will indicate to the auctioneer that you do not wish to continue bidding
Bids go up in steps controlled by the auctioneer and until the bid nears the assumed final price a bid of less than this amount will not usually be taken.
If your bid is the final bid and the price reached is above the items reserve price you have been successful in your purchase.
After you have won the bid you will have to pay an immediate deposit, the amount of deposit will be stated in the terms and conditions of the auction catalogue. The type of payment method i.e. cash, bank drafts, credit cards will be stipulated in the catalogue.
The amount of time given to pay fully for the purchase and clear the goods from the auction house will also be given in the catalogue.
Remember it is usual for the goods to be the responsibility of the purchaser after the hammer has fallen.
If the items for auction are large, heavy or difficult to move, representatives of removal companies will usually be present, but this is worth checking with the auctioneers before you make your purchase.
Auctions have existed for more than 2,000 years and continue to grow in popularity every year. An auction occurs when consumers gather physically or online to buy an item by bidding against each other until the highest offered price is reached.
Records handed down from ancient Greeks document auctions occurring as far back as 500 B.C. At this time, women were auctioned off as wives. In Rome, around the time of Christ, auctions were popular for family estates and the selling of war plunder. One of the most significant historical auctions occurred in 193 A.D. when the Praetorian Guard put the entire Roman Empire on the auction block.
American auctions date back to the arrival of the Pilgrims on America’s eastern shores in the 1600s and continued in popularity during colonization with the sale of crops, imports, livestock, tools, slaves and entire farms. Colonels during the American Civil War were the only people allowed to auction war plunder and today many auctioneers carry the title of “Colonel.” Auction schools came to the United States in the early 1900s. The Great Depression created many opportunities for auctioneers, as their services were needed to liquidate the assets of individuals and businesses hurt by the economy.
As time has gone by, auctions have become more and more popular as a means to sell goods and assets. Technology has changed the face of auctions from the days where auctioneers would stand before an audience and call an auction, to today’s auctions where computers and smartphones are utilized daily.
Did You Know?
- The word “auction” derives from the Latin word “auctus,” which means “increasing.”
- Rome was the first nation to license auctioneers.
- Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius sold family furniture at auction to satisfy debts.
- The “Magister Auctionarium” drove a spear into the ground to start the auction. Today, auctioneers use gavels many times throughout an auction.
- Founded in 1674 by Baron Claes Rålamb, Stockholms Auktionsverk is the oldest auction house still in business.
- Candles were used in the 1700s at auctions to declare the winner. If you were the high bidder at the time when the candle extinguished itself, you won the auction.
- In the mid-1700s, auctions were commonly held in taverns. Elaborate and detailed catalogs for works of art were considered art themselves.
- America’s first president, George Washington, was an avid auction buyer.
- Jones’ National School of Auctioneering and Oratory was the first American auction school and was established in Davenport, Iowa, in 1906.