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We have written about auction-related lawsuits and associated sale prices before, where sellers were unhappy.

Here’s one such article from 2012 where the sellers actually sued the buyers for “buying too cheaply:” https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/sued-for-buying-too-cheap/

Do auctioneers ever get sued because of sale prices coming in less than expectations? They do, and here’s an article regarding such from April 11, 2017: http://bangordailynews.com/2017/04/11/news/midcoast/former-midcoast-mansion-owner-sues-auctioneer-who-sold-it-for-mere-1-4-million/

Today, we explore the merits of such lawsuits, particularly directed towards the auctioneer. If — for example — a seller believes his father’s horse saddle is worth $1,500 and it only sells at auction for $200, can it be deemed the auctioneer’s fault?

Basically, if the auctioneer property identified, marketed (advertised) and managed the bid calling (and/or the bid placing,) it’s likely not the auctioneers fault. Given no auctioneer malpractice, it’s more likely a $200 saddle was thought to be worth $1,500 rather than a $1,500 saddle sold for $200 …

And further, in this day and age, with property listed on countless websites, auction calendars and other social media sites, it’s hard to imagine that any truly interested buyers would not know about the auction. Said another way … if anyone was looking for this property, they would have been able to find it.

We addressed this “market value” number contrasted with a “market price” number here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/whats-it-worth/. It’s important to remember that property is largely only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, rather than what someone (including the seller) believes it’s worth.

Lastly, there can be the issue of auctioneer projections directed to the seller, such as “We believe your saddle will demand around $1,500” thus tending to assure the seller of an expected sale price. Yet, such opinions of value are just that, and not a promise of a certain result unless denoted as a guarantee in the contract with the seller.

Suing your auctioneer because of a less-than-desired sale price? If the auctioneer is in compliance with his or her agency duties (described here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/what-do-auctioneers-owe-their-clients/) and your contract, this is at best a tough case to win.

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.