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Some live auctioneers sell 3 items a minute. Some live auctioneers sell 2 items a minute. Some live auctioneers sell 1 item a minute. Probably any of the above is fine, but time is money, and bidders only have so much of both.

At least in the live auction business, there is the well-founded theory that the quicker an auctioneer goes — to an extent — the more money is raised. https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/the-speed-of-an-auction/.

What about an online auction? Can such be too slow or too fast? It seems so. For example, for a 500-lot online auction, selling all 500 at the same moment would likely be too fast, and spacing these out so that one sells every 5 minutes would be too slow.

It would seem to us — again “generally” — that as the price of the subject lots increases (and the similarity of the lots increases,) the time between each might rightly increase as well. Selling $1 boxed lots with 15 seconds between might be acceptable, while selling $25,000 cars with 2 minutes between might be fine as well.

Auctions of any type must consider if buyers are likely to be interested in just one item and/or multiple items. For instance, a consumer might only want one car, whereas a dealer might want any of several cars. More time to consider multiple purchases suggests a bit more time between items.

In addition to time in between, there’s the “order of sale.” There is considerable reason to sell the higher-priced items early and the lower-priced items later in any auction. If for no other reason than bidders tend to hold onto their money for higher-priced items, therefore not bidding on prior lower-cost items.

Too, if higher-priced lots are sold early, then those unsuccessful bidders can now spend that remaining money on lower-priced lots. As such, selling property from low to high (prices) reduces seller proceeds, and selling property high to low (prices) increases seller proceeds.

The order also matters if certain lots work with — or attach — to other items. Selling a combine, corn head, grain head as 3 lots would strategically suggest that selling the combine first allows the combine-buyer to then buy the needed corn or grain-head while allowing anyone else to buy the desired header as well.

In summary, the time between lots matters, as well as the order of lots and the sequence of certain lots. Given this, it seems clear experienced and knowledgeable auctioneers earn more money for their sellers by understanding the subtleties of auction marketing and presentation.

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 and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.