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If an auctioneer could design his or her best client, what would that “best client” look like?

What traits would the best client have? What traits would the best client not have?

If we base our evaluation on what might be a typical client of an auctioneer, we will assume here that the auctioneer’s potential client has something to sell.

Let’s look at Mary and Helen. Both have a home they wish to sell.


    • Mary is honest with her auctioneer about her situation of wanting to sell her home to raise money for her son’s college education. She’s advised her auctioneer of a problem with the furnace.
    • Helen tells her auctioneer that she needs to sell her home because she is ‘downsizing’ when in fact she is attempting to avoid imminent foreclosure. Helen has not told anyone about the electrical problems in the basement.

    • Mary owns her home with no mortgage liens at all; she is current on her taxes and insurance.
    • Helen owes about $85,000 on her home, which might be worth $90,000 or so in the current market, and is behind on her mortgage payments.

    • Mary wants to sell her home as quickly as possible, so she can forward funds to her son’s college.
    • Helen isn’t sure she wants to sell at auction because she thinks she can probably wait several more months before she is forced to leave her home.

    • Mary has only lived in this home for five months, following the death of her aunt; Mary’s already moved out and has little emotional attachment to the home.
    • Helen grew up in this same house and has spent nearly $10,000 recently updating the kitchen and family room.
    Realistic Expectations:

    • Even though Mary believes her home may be worth $100,000 or so, she realizes it’s only really worth what the market will bear — maybe much less than $100,000.
    • Helen says her home is appraised for $90,000 and she doesn’t want to sell it for any less than that.

    • Mary trusts her auctioneer to handle all the necessary marketing, day-of-auction staffing, and other necessary duties.
    • Helen worries if her auctioneer knows how to properly market her home, and/or knows what to do the day of the auction …

    • Mary believes in the auction method of marketing and truly feels that whatever her home sells for will be it’s value.
    • Helen wants to sell at auction, but is not confident that auctions typically produce market value.

It’s fair to say that most auctioneers would consider Mary a great client. On the other hand, most auctioneers would consider Helen a client probably better avoided.

Are auctioneers blessed with clients who have all these above traits such as Mary? Many times, auctioneers have clients with most — or at least some — of Mary’s traits. It’s when clients have only a few (or none) of these traits when auctioneers find themselves often regretting the relationship.

An auctioneer’s best client? Mary.

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 serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.