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While most auctioneers don’t consider eBay an auction, there is no question the platform taught a good number of people in the United States and otherwise how auctions work.

With many auctioneers today putting property online in a timed (hard or soft close) auction, many have wondered if there’s any pattern as to when later bids and/or later bidders participate. In other words, how much does the price go up with an hour to go? How about with 1 minute to go?

A study by Alvin E. Roth and Alex Ockenfels in 2002 explored this topic. I’ve attached a link to the entire study below my summary here. For an auction of 7-10 days, late bids and late bidders seemed to follow this (average) pattern:

    Bidders, Bids & Lots:

    • 20% of all bidders submitted bids in the last hour.
    • 13% of all bidders submit their bids in the last five minutes.
    • 50% of all bids are submitted in the last five minutes.
    • 37% of lots had bids in the last minute.
    • 12% of lots had bids in the last ten seconds.

Here’s that complete report with all this above information and much more: https://web.stanford.edu/~alroth/papers/eBay.veryshortaer.pdf.

While you might think this data is irrelevant given it is research from as late as 2002, we continually garner new bidders (4-years-olds in 2002, thus 22-years-olds now) suggesting to me the statistics are probably fairly constant.

Additionally, I reviewed this information with several veteran online-only auctioneers and they all felt the data looked eerily familiar. However, certainly, your results may vary as these numbers represent an industry average.

We also would think as asset values rise — from $10 to $100 … $1,000, $10,000, $100,000 … $1,000,000 and thereon, bidding generally might occur earlier with concerns of the Internet and/or the platform not being completely reliable.

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.