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The short answer is, “yes.” Relatedly, this has been going on for as long as auctions have been used to sell property in the “English-increasing” methodology.

Since my phone has been ringing, I thought I’d explain this technique and correct some considerable misinformation. First of all, this is merely increasing or decreasing the increment when appropriate.

For example, I was bid calling the other day, and late into the auction event, we had a lot where the initial bid was $10. I asked $15 and got it, and the bidding continued until the high bid was $50.

At that point, I increased the “ask” to $60 (1) and got it and the bidding continued again until the high bid was $80 and I was asking $90. The “other bidder” wouldn’t bid $90 and so I decreased the ask to $85 (2) and got it.

The bidding continued again in $5 increments to $100 where I suggested $110 and then suggested $105 but nonetheless didn’t receive any further bids and said, “Sold!”

By the way, this entire auction (one lot) took about 25 seconds. Here are the notes for (1) and (2) which — again — have been going on for thousands of years:

  • (1) the prior increment was $5 and I changed the increment “pattern” to $10.
  • (2) the prior increment was $10 and I changed the increment “pattern” to $5.

It might be worth noting here that these increment magnitude changes are only suggestions, as the bidders bid (offer) and the auctioneer then accepts, and not the other way around.

As I’ve been teaching auctioneers in auction schools all over the United States for over 20 years — including bid calling technique — I’ve been long aware of this particular practice.

Where did I learn it? From the auctioneer who I worked for who started in the auction business in the 1960s. Where did he learn it? I trust you get the idea … this has been going on for a long while.

I’ll admit, it’s not a bid-calling concept we teach in the first few days of auction school, as students usually have their hands full with keeping the increments uniform.

I could call this phenomenon “leap a high” and “leap a low” or whatever, but that’s merely [possibly] a new name for a very old concept. I wouldn’t be inventing a new technique, and only maybe a new name.

Next time you as an auctioneer increases the next incremental “ask” or decreases the next incremental “ask” with the goal of maximizing the seller’s proceeds, you are carrying on a long-standing tradition.

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.