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When I first entered the auction business … we sold things, “quicker than you’re used to buying them.” I remember one of my first real property auctions where our client’s home has been on the market for 15 months, and we sold it in 30 days.

Our principal, several bidders, the listing agent and our broker all commented how “quickly” this auction process moved this property, “into the sold column” as our broker remarked. Generally auctioneers have been saying that they sell things faster — than other methods of buying and selling — for centuries.

Has anything changed lately? Since August 6, 1991 when the Internet became available to the public, things started to speed up. Today here in 2019, buying and selling things on the Internet takes not months, not weeks, not days, not hours and often not minutes, but only seconds.

It hasn’t all changed quite yet. There are still retail stores and other physical purchase interactions, however it was reported that for this 2019 holiday season, 54% of those polled will shop online, and 46% percent will shop in stores.

I’m not quite sure what this above graphic really says; there’s a microphone and gavel, so I assume it references a live auction (where most auctioneers do talk fast) which is maybe a bit quicker than an online auction, but neither are as fast as online purchasing. Is the inference possibly live auctioneers don’t merely talk fast …?

There are certainly many exceptions considering what retail is nearby versus the time to ship to me. If I need a 33/64″ Drill, 118° Point, High Speed Steel Silver Deming & Reduced Shank Drill Bit I can find many online or I can drive about one mile to Home Depot and pick one up — and that’s much quicker than buying on the Internet.

Further, a live auction in 8 days about 10 miles away has one, and an online auction ending in 6 days has one — but I’m not assured to be the high bidder in either, and I need the bit. They run about $22 online and maybe buying at auction can reduce my cost, but it vastly increases my wait time.

We’ve discussed that a “Buy-it-now” option speeds up an online auction, but even that likely requires shipping (waiting.) Expedited shipping is often an option, but for additional cost — and consumers routinely these days desire to avoid waiting at virtually any cost.

We wrote about Ashley weighing these options seeking a 14K gold necklace: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/should-she-buy-at-auction/. She opted to buy retail to save time over possibly saving money. Auctioneer’s longstanding lure of a “prospect of a deal” wasn’t as attractive to her.

For the many that price matters — auctions can attract those seeking a “prospect of a deal” so long as we don’t make it more difficult, costly, risky and cumbersome to buy at auction. That is, is it all “as-is, where-is, no guarantees, no warranties, buyer’s premium and selling subject to seller’s confirmation?” I think Ashley might generally continue to shop elsewhere.

What’s the future of the auction business? If we (as auctioneers) are selling unique property (not largely available otherwise) with reasonable terms and conditions and/or providing an experience rather than just commerce, we will survive for years to come. Otherwise, your auction has likely already become one of the lesser-preferred buying methods.

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.