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Let’s see … what is an auctioneer’s job? To maximize price for our seller/client? To solve the seller/client’s problem? Indeed this is widely considered an auctioneer’s job. Yet, some auctioneers have “policies’ that deter from that goal.

For instance, some sell real property and only cooperate (pay a commission) with other licensed agents/brokers if they register so-many hours in advance, fill out certain paperwork, and/or attend the auction with their client. Others even prohibit the agent/broker from buying himself (or herself) and representing himself, thus earning a commission. Why? Because that’s the policy?

Is there another policy that requires auctioneers to maximize the bidder pool to benefit their sellers? Is there a policy that requires auctioneers to be loyal to their seller/client rather than themselves? Is there a policy that requires auctioneers to act to benefit their sellers over increasing their own commissions? There is.

It seems auctioneers shouldn’t do anything which deters bidders from participating in order to benefit themselves. Certainly “loyalty” is a basic common law agency duty that requires an auctioneer/agent to consider the needs of the seller/client over the auctioneer/agent maximizing their own commissions to the seller’s/client’s detriment.

However, obedience is another agency duty, which requires auctioneers/agents to follow seller/client legal directions. So certainly if the seller/client has directed the auctioneer/agent to require such registration hurdles and/or directed the auctioneer/agent to not compensate agent/buyers then the auctioneer/agent would be bound to follow these directions, although advising the client as to the effects.

Some auctions — and especially real property auctions — work with smaller bidder pools. Just one additional bidder can make all the difference: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/12/03/auctions-and-the-chances-of-alpha-and-beta-etc-2/. Would that agent’s/broker’s one additional client be that one additional bidder? Would that agent/broker be that one additional bidder? Which policy is more important? Are your policies more important than your seller/client?

I suppose some auctioneers would say that real estate licensees are hardly the patron saints of “loyalty” with “pocket listings,” “coming soon,” “dual agency” and the like where the goal is clearly to protect (increase) commissions at the expense of seller/client. Maybe in that sense, agents/brokers should expect to be treated how they treat everyone else? So, nobody should worry about their seller/client?

We’ve learned over the years of selling 1,000’s of real properties at auction that maximizing the seller’s position is paramount — even if we end up making less in commission and/or are inconvenienced in some manner. All auctioneers should clearly understand loyalty to the client and have this same goal of helping your seller/client as much as possible.

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 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.