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I am frequently asked as an expert witness how competent an auctioneer (or auctioneers in general) must be. Competency in the sense of the quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill, or strength as for a particular duty or in a particular respect.

  • The National Auctioneers Association dictates in their Code of Ethics that auctioneers [members] “shall recognize the limitations of their expertise; then seek counsel, assistance or Client referral appropriate for the circumstances.”
  • The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) states that appraisers “(1) be competent to perform the assignment; (2) acquire the necessary competency to perform the assignment; or (3) decline or withdraw from the assignment.”
  • The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Ethics says real estate professionals [Realtors®] “shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client.”

It seems clear from these three guidelines — one auctioneer-specific and two others in very similar professions — that auctioneers are expected to be competent. Of course, many auctioneers are as well appraisers and/or real estate licensees, additionally substantiating this required level of service.

The take-home from any of these above standards is this: either know what you’re doing or find help. In other words, the client is more important than you earning a fee or commission. This simple principle appears to be unfortunately lost on all kinds of professionals these days.

Additionally, in today’s litigious society, it may be just as important to not be “on record” not knowing what you’re doing — posting on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, emails, text messages with the message “I don’t know what I’m doing” which can be subpoenaed in court.

Lastly, soliciting assistance is tricky business. In a public forum, self-proclaimed experts will all too often respond with little or no actual knowledge. There are far better sources of accurate information than friends, relatives, coworkers and the like. Of course, you’re free to disregard this (my) advice as well.

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.