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We had previously written about auctioneers “setting the bid in” where they bid first and then ask for a higher bid: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/should-the-auctioneer-set-the-bid-in/. For instance, “I have $500 and want $550 …”

Otherwise, could a bidder “set the bid in?” Sure he could. Setting the bid in is merely a bidder offering to be the first bidder when the bidding is opened. For example, Al says, “I’ll set you (the auctioneer) in at $20,000 on that forklift.”

First, there are two different times that a bidder could request to set the bid in. One is before the auction, and one is during the auction of that lot:

    1. Before the auction (before the item is put up for bid) it is entirely up to the auctioneer if he ultimately decides to set the price in as was offered prior.
    2. During the auction, before any other bids, offering to set the bid in is the same as someone offering an initial bid. This type of bid — like any bid — can be (generally) accepted or rejected. However, in a without reserve auction, if that bid was made within a reasonable time, the subject lot could not then be subsequently withdrawn.

Bids are offers from bidders. Specifically, as such, auctioneers can accept or reject any offers other than ensuring any bid accepted is higher than any previously accepted bid, and further that at an absolute auction that the property is sold to the highest offer tendered.

Many auctioneers — including myself — appreciate bidders offering to set the bid in prior to lots coming up for auction. Many times, those types of offers are good places to start the bidding and ask for more.

If a bidder offers to set the bid in at $15,000 and the auctioneer concurs, then the auctioneer should abide by his agreement — and not ask for more than that bid nor drop down below that bid and pretend there are other bids up to this starting bid.

In other words, a bidder setting the bid in gives the auctioneer no license to “play games” with the bidders, taking fictitious bids from the crowd anymore than without this initial bid being placed.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, 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, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.