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Auctioneer Justin Ochs said as much in an article published by the National Auctioneers Association (NAA).

Justin went on to describe what was lacking … “That a computer can’t put its hand on your back and tell you to bid on more time.”

He also expressed that, “A live auction engages people in a manner that creates competition and generates thousands of dollars.”

Furthering this notion that possibly online auctions don’t necessarily generate more net proceeds for the auctioneer’s client(s), we cite an article in the Buffalo News Online where Kelly Schultz reports (as I read it) that a 250-year-old Chinese porcelain moon flask sold for $1.55 million.

Schultz says that online bidding prior had pushed the price upwards of $500,000. But, the live auction then took bidding from that $500,000 to the final selling price of $1.55 million. Schultz remarked that this is why the live auction is here to stay.

However, in this same article, Stephen Phillips, co-owner of Lodge Auction House in Buffalo, says that the future of the auction industry is online, and that the more educated the buyer, the higher they bid. This seems to me to be almost contradictory — the online bidder doesn’t have as much education as the live bidder because they bid by picture and description only.

And, if a online bidder takes the opportunity to preview the real or personal property item, are they really an “online” bidder in a traditional sense? If online bidding wasn’t offered, they would be at the auction and/or bid by absentee or phone.

In other words, if an auctioneer is going to offer all the items in a personal property auction for preview and inspection, why not just hold the auction that “preview day” instead of cataloging, picturing, describing and uploading … then allowing for preview … then taking another day or more to allow for online bidding and pickup and/or shipping?

And so far as, “the more educated the buyer, the higher they bid,” I wonder if what is really the case here is, “the more buyers feel in control and believe they are able to fully inspect — and ask questions — prior to purchasing,” the more they bid? That sounds more like a live auction to most people.

What I have found a live auction does is focus the bidder’s attention.

When an auctioneer is selling a Rolex wristwatch to a live audience of 300 bidders, that’s seemingly the only Rolex wristwtach on earth — at that moment. An online bidder is one click away from 1,000’s of other Rolex watches for sale.

That live bidder can have the ringman’s hand on his back telling him to bid again, while the online bidder is out of touch, and a click or keystroke from being completely disengaged.

Has the Internet changed the auction industry? I think we’d all agree the Internet has allowed auctions and auction items (real and personal) to be advertised and found by bidders around the globe. Does this same technology mandate that those same real and/or personal items be available to online bidders?

It seems not yet. And possibly as some are suggesting, maybe never.

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.