We have written extensively about auctioneers reopening the bid; for instance, here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/can-auctioneers-reopen-the-bidding/
Except for a possible exception in Kentucky, state law across the United States makes no provision for the manner of reopening if permitted — however, fiduciary duty does dictate a proper procedure.
Further, to reopen a “tie bid,” there would have to be such a thing (and there isn’t:) https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/terms-which-say-there-are-tie-bids/ and additionally to reopen a “missed bid,” there would have to be such a thing (and there isn’t:) https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/what-is-a-missed-bid/
However, when an auctioneer legally reopens the bid, it is certainly customary to invite a higher offer from the bidder who bid “while the hammer is [was] falling …” and then even come back to the original bidder/buyer if that bid is made to invite another bid, and so forth.
But, to strictly limit the bidding to these two bidders is a violation of fiduciary (agency) law — in that if some other bidder desires to bid (offer) a higher amount, that bid should be accepted.
No other bidder than the high bidder has any greater position (equity) than any other bidder. The so-called “back-up” or previous bidder stands equal with any other bidder.
As such, auctioneers who reopen the bidding must reopen in a fashion just like before saying, “Sold!” in that anyone properly registered can bid; there’s no time that an auction isn’t either open to all — or nobody.
Are you reopening the bid? Your seller will want (and deserve) for you to reopen to all eligible bidders … or you are in breach of your fiduciary duty to your client.
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, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.