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I’ve seen this graphic many times … we auctioneers started out as apes? Well, maybe not, but more recently we went from so-called live auctioneers to online auctioneers. For many, indeed this is the trend. Yet, not all auctioneers quite yet.

There are still many successful auctioneers selling real and personal property at a live auction, and many selling the same in a simulcast environment with live and online bidding.

Certainly, there is some property that sells better online, while other property which sells better live. One such theory cites “valuation uncertainty” which suggests lower-priced items sell better online and higher-priced items fare better with a live auction component.

Think about the most valuable personal property which sells at auction — artwork, collector cars, yellow iron, horses … much of which is being sold via simulcast (live and online) and necessarily not online only.

Many auctioneers tell me lower-end valued property sells better live (no shipping) and suggest the middle-ground (not low valued, not high valued) is appropriate for online only. However, there are auctioneers selling everything they contract in [exclusively] one of these three methods:

  1. Live only, no online bidding
  2. Online only, no live bidding
  3. Simulcast (live and online bidding)

I point this out because I’m not convinced any one method (#1, #2, or #3 above) is always the right answer. Too many auctioneers are choosing the method before assessing the property, the market, and the seller’s goals …

Some of these practices may depend upon the area or region of the United States. As a general rule, the public is far more auction-oriented in the eastern half of the United States, as compared to the western half.

Further, we have no way to know for sure “our” method is the best. If an auctioneer in Indiana sells a car at a live auction for $27,500 would it have sold for more online? If an auctioneer in Wyoming sells a bulldozer online only for $35,000 would it have sold for more live?

The issue with any simulcast auction is the increased work to put on both a live and online auction at the same time. Does any increase in prices outweigh the additional costs? We’ve discussed this numerous times on this platform including https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/02/25/live-online-only-or-simulcast/.

It’s not my intent here to direct nor insist you as an auctioneer sell your sellers’ property any certain way. Having auctions is good, selling property is good, and if you’re doing both and serving your client’s needs, your method is working. However, there may be circumstances where one of the above methods is better than another.

If we’re recommending anything, it seems to us the auction property, the circumstances, the market, and the seller should drive the auction method, rather than only one method driving all sellers and auctions. It appears clear to us no method is always the right choice.

Lastly, real property largely involves a local or regional market with occasionally vast valuation uncertainty. People looking to upgrade, downsize, or otherwise expand, or move … are likely still employed locally, with family and friends nearby. We would ask if it is essential all real property is sold online only so that it’s exposed to a worldwide market? We would suggest, likely not.

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, 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 has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.