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From the beginning what you do as a seller can make a difference in the outcome of the auction.  We enter the process at varying stages of your attempts to sell the assets.  

Sometimes we are the first to know and other times we are not.

I have to articulate one important point before you read this and it always seems to be the commonality between most situations where we see this.  Often times many people that are selling assets do not know they are going to have an auction before they have an auction.  In other words many set out to sell the assets on their own and then realize it’s a much bigger task than they imagined with a whole bunch of hassle they did not anticipate so they then look to the services of an auctioneer.  

The Problem?

The problem is the easy to sell nicest items that would attract buyers to auctions are often snatched up leaving you with only the least desirable items left, and the auctioneer takes no interest in your sale or you get very poor performance out of your property.  It’s very important to note, it’s always worth more as a whole than in parts.  Let the auctioneers turn it into parts.

1.  Don’t attempt to sell the assets privately.  This is one of the most damaging things you can do because you will price the assets and it’s like a bullet fired from a gun, once you have pulled the trigger you can never bring it back.  And in many cases, if you sell the item after you have a contract with the auctioneer and he or she has marketed the property – you are definitely on the hook for advertising and the sales commission.

2.  Don’t let someone cherry pick the best assets from you before calling us.  This happens especially in situations where there are lots of personal property assets.  In estates we’ve often experienced that a neighbor or friend will come buy the best 4 or 5 items at what turns out to very a very cheap price.  What this does it cuts out a large portion of the buyer’s pool that may have attended the auction.  Not only did you end up selling it at a cheap price, you may devalue the rest of the assets inadvertently.

3. Don’t place your assets or offer them on social media, Craigslist or other websites.  This invites thieves and rip-off artists and estate sales lizards right into your front door – these are issues that we’ve seen in the past.  First consider the security of the items.  As you field calls people will learn about them and where they are located – if you live there, it may put you in danger.  It will also price the items again putting an expectation out there – you can price items so high that you turn bidders away.  This is especially a sensitive issue with farmland.  If you have overpriced it will forever turn away some of the potential prospects and if you have underpriced it you will sell it leaving money on the table.

4.  After you contact an auctioneer or broker some are tempted to make a last ditch attempt to sell the assets themselves to avoid paying a commission.  Commission is an investment and not an expense.  It’s easy in the beginning of the process to see it as an expense and deduct it from what you feel you will get.  Accelerated marketing coupled with a professional auctioneer will get you top dollar for your assets whether its farmland, a tractor or a bedroom set.  Avoid the temptation and trust the process because even with commission you are still likely to make more in the end.  We did some research on private sales versus public auction sales and private sales were on average 14% below the auction results.  It will make you money.

5.  Once an auction is booked and the auctioneer has started working on it you will receive many inquiries from people that know you that have an interest in the asset or just want to satisfy the burning question.  The number 1 thing they will ask you is “what is the price” If you answer you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.  A very polite way to defer that question is “The Auctioneer has asked me to refer all questions about price to him.”   Many will push you by asking the question several ways multiple times and some you may need to be very blunt and tell them “I do not have an answer for you.”

6.  Do not discuss with anybody that asks questions about locations of items.  At times for auctions we provide a preview but only under the supervision of sellers and auction staff.  In addition make sure items are stored in secure locations.  Since we often sell farm machinery this might not make sense, it can be hard to secure farm equipment.  Scales and monitors from equipment can go missing.  So can pull trailers, tools, and items that fit in the back of a pickup easily.  Keep everything secure, lock doors and do not show the items to anybody without supervision.  It is best to ensure that once you sign a contract with the auctioneer, that you turn over the keys and security to his team.

7. Be in agreement with co-owners and beneficiaries on how you are moving forward, who will be in charge of making agreements, accepting bids or otherwise important decisions.  Will it be a team?  A single person?  The entire group?  Often where there are many heirs to an estate that have many opinions which will create conflicts.  Conflicts can be very detrimental and when conflict breaks down communication between heirs a whole host of things are possible that will affect your auction.  It’s important to understand these things happen often and relying on your auctioneers can be a great help in avoiding or mediating these situations.

Also be aware that in those situations where there are many heirs, the only person that the auctioneer will discuss the contract with is the executrix or executor.   They are legally the only persons who have the power of the pen, and who the auctioneer will seek for signatures and decisions.  Many of the heirs love to voice their opinion or attempt to sway bidding by shill bidding – that practice is illegal, and many auctioneers will have the offender escorted off site by police car.

It is important to understand that an auctioneer is a fiduciary, and has the interests in the seller foremost on their mind.  Being in the auction business for 12 years, I can tell you I have seen many of new auctioneers coming through working for cheap, only to leave their sellers wondering where they stand in both the sale, and in some cases, never getting paid.

Invest in your success and hire a professional auctioneer who is a member of the State Association.  This ensures that they have agreed to abide by a strict code of ethics.  Your auctioneer can make your auction the best it can be with the proper knowledge, and keeping in mind some of the items above.

When you find yourself in a situation where you have assets to sell consider our professional services and contact us for a free evaluation and marketing plan for your assets with no obligation at (919) 723-1782.

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