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For nearly 40 years as an auctioneer, I have remarked to 100’s of customers, “It’s not what you need, it’s what you want.” This is typically in response to an auction bidder telling me, “There’s nothing here I need.” I suppose, if we have food, shelter and clothing, what else do we need?

After you have all your needs, it’s okay to have considered some wants, isn’t it? As an auctioneer for nearly 40 years, I can tell you that many people don’t even know what they want or need until they see it at an auction. Quite frankly, I’m like that too when it comes to shopping.

People often need to find a balance between needs and wants. Michael F. Kay wrote an article for Forbes Magazine titled, “Finding The Balance Between ‘Needs’ Vs. ‘Wants'” which you can read here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkay/2017/03/21/finding-the-balance-between-needs-vs-wants/.

The issue for auctioneers is we sometimes have a property (personal or real) what nobody really wants — nor certainly needs. I was just explaining that to an attorney handling an estate in Indiana where he wanted to know what this 1990’s entertainment center would demand at auction. I told him it would likely not sell.

It wouldn’t sell because nobody needs these entertainment centers anymore, and nobody would want it. He was disappointed but understood. When I asked him if he knew anyone who would want or need it, he replied, “Nobody.” He then seemed to truly comprehend.

We as auctioneers also have property people really want (or need.) These days in early 2020, we have our largest crowds at our auction house with vehicles, firearms, jewelry, coins, vintage games/electronics, and tools. The real property market is still strong in nearly all sectors as well.

We’ve watched just how supply and demand has determined prices at auction for decades. We wrote about such here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/08/09/auctions-changing-ages-and-tastes-indeed/.

It is also readily apparent to us that the younger generation is looking to satisfy needs (food, shelter, clothing) but is otherwise spending more money on experiences than personal property. This means the need is always there, but the want is changing.

We recently looked at the collector car auction market and noted prices for the highest valued vehicles are down, indicating buyers are looking for cars they can drive (experience) rather than just buy, store, clean and look at (collect.) That analysis is here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/12/13/the-collector-car-auction-market/.

Do people buy the things they need? Do people buy the things they want? They do both and it’s a good thing as most auctioneers are selling wants and needs. Auctioneers selling property nobody needs nor wants can be a profitless activity.

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.