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I’ve been analyzing and writing about the auction industry in earnest since November, 2009. Not long thereafter, I started to get questions from auctioneers around the country — emails, text messages and telephone calls mostly.

While we’ve received 100’s of questions, there are five we tend to get most often. Here we answer those top five with basic information and invite you to use the search box at the top-right of our blog for more detailed information.

    1. “Can I (or when can I) stop an absolute auction?”
    2. An auctioneer and/or seller can stop an absolute auction on any particular property anytime before it is ‘put up’ for bid. Thereafter, that particular property can be withdrawn if no bid is received within a reasonable time of being put up for bid. Generally, if you’ve put something up for bid and received a bid, that lot (property) cannot be withdrawn.

    3. “What if I … ?” when it comes to selling firearms.
    4. Per federal law an auctioneer without a Federal Firearms License (FFL) may sell Class 1 firearms at an occasional single-seller onsite auction where the seller maintains possession and control of the firearms, and no sales are made out-of-state unless directly to an FFL. Note: some states have additional laws which may further restrict firearms sales. Otherwise … you need to be licensed as a Federal Firearms Licensee to sell firearms.

    5. “Can the seller bid on his/her own items?”
    6. First, the seller may bid at any “forced sale” auction (foreclosure, bankruptcy, court-ordered, and the like;) then otherwise, it depends on the type of auction. There are two types: With reserve and without reserve. In a with reserve auction, the seller may bid if that right is disclosed to the other bidders. In a without reserve auction, the seller may not bid. Lastly, it’s important to know who exactly the seller is, and is not.

    7. “Is it okay to have a minimal starting price in an absolute auction?”
    8. The law would dictate that an absolute auction cannot have any sort of minimum bid. The practical side of this question is — particularly in an online auction — is there some sort of trivial starting bid that can be required — $1.00? $0.01? It would seem possibly a $0.005 bid would constitute the least amount that could be offered but certainly anything over $1.00 would likely be considered contrary to absolute constraints.

    9. “What do I do when there is a ‘tie bid?'”
    10. There are no tie bids (except possibly in Kentucky, where state law suggests there are.) However, even if you believe there are such things as “tie bids,” it’s always a good idea to not reopen the bidding and rather leave the declared high bidder as the winning bidder. Relatedly, auctioneers are permitted to reopen the bidding if a higher bid comes in “while the hammer is falling in acceptance of a prior bid” (not a tie bid situation) but here again it’s best to not reopen the bid.

We have written about all these and many other topics numerous times — from various angles — and again suggest the search box at the top-right be used for further research. We welcome your call or text to (614) 461-9229 if after all that your question remains unanswered.

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, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.