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It’s news all over the world and easily found on the Internet … changing buyer tastes in personal (and real) property — making what’s not desirable anymore difficult to sell.

We wrote about this subject here in 2015: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/what-some-collectors-cant-find-buyers/. Here’s a more recent article from the Providence Business News: https://pbn.com/auctions-cater-to-changing-ages-tastes/ and here’s yet another story: http://ebbids.com/the-coming-estate-sale-implosion/.

Quite frankly, the only real surprise most auctioneers sense is that anyone is surprised about this; the evidence is overwhelming.

Here’s a few examples of what auctioneers are currently noticing about the market now versus say 20-30-40 years ago …

  • Duncan Phyfe dining room set that was selling for $900 in 1991 now selling for about $20.
  • Hummel figurine “Umbrella Girl” that was selling for $475 in 1993 now selling for about $15.
  • Theodore Haviland china “Pasadena” Set, service for 12 that was selling for $1,500 in 1992 now selling for about $25.
  • Daum crystal panther figurine that sold for $750 in 1997 now selling for about $20.
  • Longaberger Basket JW Collection waste can selling in 1998 for $675 now selling for about $30.

It is simply this: There is now far more supply of these types of items on the market and much less demand. What happens when supply exceeds demand? Prices fall. It’s the collectors selling [certain property] and the younger generation being largely disinterested.

Is this the universal rule? It’s not. There are certainly exceptions but for the most part, the ages and tastes of auction bidders/buyers continue to change. Everyone needs personal property to some extent — but what they want is now different.

What have auctioneers done? What can they do? First, it’s important to properly educate sellers so that they can have reasonable expectations. Secondly, market whatever is being sold properly so that their subject property is appropriately exposed to potential buyers.

Otherwise, auctioneers can endeavor to find property still in demand and contract to sell that … firearms, certain collector cars, jewelry, some coins, tools, livestock and almost any real property.

And more good news for auctioneers … it only takes the highest bidder and the second highest bidder to maximize price. We have written several times about alpha and beta including here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/auctioneers-alpha-and-beta-and-more/.

Of course, it always helps to have a large bidder pool as bidders bid more when they feel they are making a good decision: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/large-auction-crowds-busy-restaurants-and-relevance/.

In summary, auctioneers can better prosper by selling property where there is more demand than supply — in fact, that’s always been the best formula as the subject property continues to change; most of all, auctioneers need to stay alert.

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.