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Our question today is, “Should the seller be at the auction?”

Auctioneers seem to come to different conclusions regarding this.

Some say the seller should be at the auction, and others say the seller should not be present.

Further, if the auction is available online, should the seller be registered and observe the auction from his computer? If the auction is simulcasted, should the seller watch from his computer?

Here, we’ll primarily deal with a live auction, and the advantages and disadvantages of the seller being in attendance.

Those auctioneers who believe the seller should be at the auction typically say the seller can:

  • See the efforts of the auctioneer as his property is sold.
  • Be consulted regarding questions about the property.
  • See the bidders, and better understand how the market is determining prices.
  • Reconsider any nondisclosed reserve amounts — or confirm high bids — if the auction is “with reserve.”
  • Bid if proper disclosures are in place and the auction is “with reserve,” or a forced sale.
  • Withdraw property from the auction before it is offered — or even after it is offered — depending upon the auction type.
Those auctioneers who believe the seller should not be at the auction typically say the seller can:

  • See the efforts of the auctioneer as his property is sold.
  • Be consulted regarding questions about the property.
  • See the bidders, and better understand how the market is determining prices.
  • Reconsider any nondisclosed reserve amounts — or confirm high bids — if the auction is “with reserve.”
  • Bid if proper disclosures are in place and the auction is “with reserve,” or a forced sale.
  • Withdraw property from the auction before it is offered — or even after it is offered — depending upon the auction type.


Of course, the reasons for the seller being present are the same as the reasons for the seller not being present. Let’s take these one at a time …

  • The seller can see the efforts of the auctioneer as his property is sold.

    • Good if the seller likes the effort.
    • Bad if the seller doesn’t like the effort.

  • The seller can be consulted regarding questions about the property.

    • Good if the auctioneer needs to consult the seller.
    • Bad if bidders start to consult the seller.

  • The seller can see the bidders, and better understand how the market is determining prices.

    • Good if the seller likes what he is seeing.
    • Bad if the seller doesn’t like what he is seeing.

  • The seller can reconsider any nondisclosed reserve amounts — or confirm high bids — if the auction is “with reserve.”

    • Good if the seller lowers a reserve or does confirm.
    • Bad if the seller raises reserves, or doesn’t confirm.

  • The seller can bid if proper disclosures are in place and the auction is “with reserve,” or a forced sale.

    • Good if it’s properly managed, and accepted by the bidders.
    • Bad if it’s not properly managed or the bidders become irritated.

  • The seller can withdraw property from the auction before it is offered — or even after it is offered — depending upon the auction type.

    • Good if it’s properly managed, and accepted by the bidders.
    • Bad if it’s not properly managed or the bidders become irritated.

Therefore, it seems the benefits of the seller being present rely on the seller truly acting in his own best interest, and not being a distraction to the event. As well, if the seller doesn’t act in his own best interest, or is a distraction to the event, there are benefits of him not being present.

Finally, can the auctioneer either require or prohibit the seller from being present? We’ll discuss that in a future analysis.

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 adjunct faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.