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This is my eighth “aberrant auction law” find, and numbered as such. When I find more, I’ll attempt to number sequentially, although I hope my searching is generally unsuccessful.

Aberrant auction law refers to auctioneer licensing law (or other auction related law) that is abnormal, odd, bizarre, or otherwise unusual. The basis for determining if an auction law is aberrant is all the other auction law that is out there, which collectively is widely considered normal.

The state of Michigan recently enacted a “voluntary registration” of auctioneers. Here is the text from the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth website:

    Required State License(s):

    Beginning October 1, 2007, anyone using the title “Registered Auctioneer” will be required to be registered with the Department of Labor & Economic Growth, Bureau of Commercial Services at (517) 241-9288 or visit our website at www.michigan.gov/auctioneers.

    A Michigan sales tax license is required for all auctions and may be obtained from the Department of Treasury . You may call the Michigan Department of Treasury; (517) 636-4660; www.michigan.gov/taxes. Please request Form 518 – Registration for Michigan Taxes.

    A real estate license is not required to conduct an auction of real property, as long as the auctioneer only “calls the sale” and a real estate broker or attorney performs the closing.

    A vehicle broker license is required from the Department of State, Dealer Division if a motor vehicle is to be sold at an auction. You may contact the Department of State, Dealer Division at (517) 373-9460; www.michigan.gov/sos.

    Other Possible License(s):

    The city/township clerk of the community in which an auction will be held should be contacted to determine if a license/permit is required.

While the idea of a state offering auctioneers the option of voluntarily registering for oversight and consumer protection is not inconceivable, this is unlike any other state in the United States; all other 49 states basically mandate licensing of some sort, or do not require any such licensing.

It appears to me that possibly this is a transitional phase in the state of Michigan, where likely mandatory licensing will be enacted in the coming years. For now, this represents an unusual manner of regulating only some of the auction business in Michigan.

We find Michigan law per Article 29 of the Occupational Code, 1980 PA 299, as amended, aberrant.

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: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.