It’s interesting to me that terms and conditions — particularly for real property auctions — keep getting longer and longer. Nevertheless, we ask today what “page” that most important information should be on?
Should it be on page 1? Page 10? Page 126? Page 583? The answer appears to be if it’s good news, maybe Page 1 and if it’s bad news, maybe page 583. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a disturbing practice of burying bad information so bidders don’t see it.
It’s not only written terms, conditions, and related documents but announcements as well. While we’re an advocate of putting any bad news between introductory and ending good news items, we do not advocate bad news to be left out altogether.
Contaminated land? Title issues? Pending eminent domain? Would this be particularly good news for a bidder/buyer? Obviously not, but that doesn’t mean it’s information that should be hidden or obscured altogether. On the contrary, it would be important for the seller/auctioneer to disclose.
We wrote about title issues specifically as they are often latent, but especially need to be disclosed to potential buyers when selling at auction. In fact, the status of title should be disclosed regardless: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/clear-title-at-auction/.
It’s unfortunate, but too many auctioneers (and sellers) attempt to hide behind “as-is” and “where-is” disclaimers. We previously wrote about “as-is” and necessary disclosures here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/an-auctioneers-as-is-primer/.
As we’ve repeatedly told auctioneers across the globe — auctions can be very lonely events without bidders/buyers. Lack of disclosure is a frequent topic in auction litigation and as an auction expert witness, I’ve seen it first-hand. Those affected bidders/buyers have likely attended their last auction.
Maybe the easiest way for an auctioneer to understand this would be to think, “What would you want if you were the bidder/buyer?” It’s not a terrifically difficult concept to understand … or is it?
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, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.