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What is an “essential” auction? What is a nonessential auction? Are any auctions essential? Maybe the first question should be, “Essential to who?” Essential to sellers? Essential to buyers? Essential for the public good?

First, “essential” is generally considered “absolutely necessary and/or extremely important.” So is any auction extremely important or absolutely necessary? Quite frankly, maybe not. While almost anything is sold at auction, almost anything can transfer hands otherwise.

One of the main advantages of auction marketing over other types of sales techniques is speed and certainty. Auctions can almost always get property sold in a matter of a few days and sellers can be assured of the sale on a certain date/time.

Most other sales techniques generally take more time and usually lack the certainty of the timeframe. However, auctions are traditionally used extensively for the sale of cars, artwork, farms, equipment, livestock, and charity/benefit events.

Nevertheless, traditional doesn’t necessarily translate to essential. Sellers may need to sell to reduce holding costs, and buyers may need to buy for a particular job or assignment. So far as the overall economy, cars and livestock seem to have the best case for “essential.”

For any auction to be considered absolutely necessary, I think a seller would have to argue the lack of other viable alternative methods of sale, and a buyer would have to argue the property is something he can’t find otherwise for some critical need.

I doubt the overall auctioneer community could successfully argue we’re essential in order to maintain a livelihood or avoid our own business failure — lots of other businesses have closed in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic …

Hopefully, sooner rather than later, auctioneers can forget about either being essential or nonessential and work in an environment again where buyers and sellers consider auction marketing a prudent and fun way to buy and sell.

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.