Gun Safety. Gun Sales.
Gun Regulations. Gun Ownership.
Gun Possession. Gun Whatever.
Yeah, guns are in the news. Especially after a mass shooting. As of the time of this writing, it’s been less than three weeks since the tragic Texan church shooting in a small town where no one expected anything like this to happen. And that means people have hard-core beliefs swaying wildly to one side or the other of the gun spectrum. I’m not going into that, because this is an auction blog, not a political soapbox. I’ll leave that up to you.
Often times, especially up here in the Northwoods, one might go to a live auction where rifles or pistols are being auctioned off. It’s actually fairly normal to go to a farm auction and have people asking us if there are any guns up for auction, even though typically hunting rifles are handed down from one generation to another ’round our neck of the woods. So what DO you need to know if you want to be able to purchase a gun at an auction?
When you come to a live auction at which guns are being auctioned and check in, you may be asked if you will be bidding on any of the guns, especially if the person handling the check-in station notices that you are from out of state. More about that later.
If you are from in-state (yes, you must live in the state that the auction is being held in), you don’t have too much to worry about as long as you are at least 18 years old for long guns (like rifles and shotguns) or age 21 for short guns (like pistols and revolvers). Here are a few of the most common things an auctioneer is looking at when selling a gun to somebody at an auction. Please note that each state is different in its gun ownership laws. This is just a general list. Please check with your own state about their laws and requirements.
In general, in order to purchase/possess a gun as an in-state resident,
- You must not be a convicted felon, currently under indictment, or found not-guilty of a crime by way of mental insanity. Because really, who wants criminals out on the streets with guns (that’s about as political as I’m going to get).
- If you’ve been committed to a mental institution and have been ordered by the court to not be allowed gun ownership, well, that would be pretty just cause for the auctioneer to not sell you a gun. Besides being the law, it just makes sense.
- You must not be an illegal alien. You know who I’m talking about. And I don’t mean the kind from Mars, either…although if you were, you’d probably own your own extra-terrestrial
- ray-gun which would be far superior to our simple .22’s, so what would be the point of trying to buy one of ours.
- You have a domestic violence, child abuse, or tribal restraint order held against you. Yeah, not cool.
- You have proper identification that proves your age, your address, photo identity, and provide your telephone number and anything else the auctioneer might require. Very cool to have with you. And necessary.
If you are from out-of-state, in addition to the above (and whatever your state laws are), you need to possess an FFL. In simplest words, an FFL (Federal Firearms Licence) is a US license that gives an individual or a company the ability to engage in a business of buying/selling firearms including between states. There’s more to an FFL, but that’s the basic gist of it. All you need to know is that if you live in Minnesota and want to purchase a rifle in Wisconsin, you better have an FFL, or the auctioneer will deny you the right to bid on and purchase a firearm.
Once you have won the gun, you will likely have to fill out a form to prove you have the right according to the state to purchase the firearm (like you have not been convicted of a felon). Once you pay for and take possession of your firearm, make sure to secure it safely and legally.
There you have it. That’s about it.
Gun purchasing at an auction in a nutshell.
Or should that be a shotgun shell?
In my last blog, we talked about whether or not someone could purchase something from an auction before the auction begins. We decided the correct answer was no.
In this blog, we’re going to investigate whether or not an auctioneer can pull an item from an auction. The short answer is yes. The longer answer gets a big more complicated.
First, we need to clarify that we are talking about completely pulling an item from the auction (and not selling it to anyone) rather than selling an advertised item before the auction. When we talk about pulling an item, it means the auctioneer makes a very conscious decision to not sell a particular item, whether it was itemized or not. Notice the key words: NOT SELL.
But why, and when, would this happen? Let’s look.
The first reason an item might be pulled from the auction (or not sold) is that it did not meet the minimum reserve price. Most items at an auction will be sold for whatever it can bring, even if it is just a couple dollars. However, some items might have a minimum reserve price, which is an undisclosed price that the seller has communicated with the auctioneer before the auction. The item is identified to the crowd as having a reserve price. If this minimum price has not been reached, the item will not be sold. For example, say Acacia was going to sell her Farmall Cub tractor. She’s not going to, but imagine she decided to. She works it out with the auctioneer that she wants a minimum of $2500 for the tractor. The day of the auction arrives. People getting ready to bid on the Cub know there is a reserve price, but after a couple minutes of bidding, the high bid is only $1250. At this point, the auctioneer would state that the Cub didn’t reach it’s reserve price and it would be set aside.
Another reason that an item might be pulled or not sold at an auction is because it is in an auction with reserve. This simply means that the seller has reserved specific outlined and contracted rights, one of which is the right to not sell an item. The biggest catch is that seller (or the auctioneer acting on the part of his client) must pull the item before the auctioneer brings down the hammer. Once the hammer comes down, the item is sold and cannot be pulled from the auction. While this might make a buyer upset (especially if they are bidding on it), and while it might make the auctioneer look, well, not so good, it does offer the seller some protection from a way too low of a bid.
Going along with this, some auction houses will reserve the right to withdraw an item if it only receives nominal bids (bids by people who think they can buy something for $5 when it’s worth $100) or when an item doesn’t receive bids that reflect what the item is actually worth. This is something that is more common in larger auction houses, or when the seller and auctioneer put it in their contract. This is also usually stated somewhere on the auction house’s Terms & Conditions for all to see.
A fourth reason an item might be pulled, or withdrawn, from an auction is because the item is defective. Perhaps an item was listed for sale, like perhaps an oak infant crib. A day before the auction, the seller or the auction house is made aware of a recall on the crib due to a defect in which the side rail would not stay up and children’s arms and legs were getting hurt. The auction house will pull this item as it could not in good faith sell a defective item to another individual. Similarly, if it is noticed that there is a defect that was not otherwise noted and cataloged, the auctioneer may choose to withdraw the item, or set it aside without penalty. Again, this provision is usually noted in the auction houses Terms and Conditions.
A fifth reason an item might be withdrawn could happen if the auctioneer suspects that there is something fishy going on that is influencing the sale of the item. This could be collusion between buyers or someone purposefully bidding the item up to get a higher sale price. Both of these scenarios are unsavory, distasteful, and unacceptable by those who love to attend auctions to get a good deal or purchase a treasure.
Well, there you have it. Five (5) big reasons that something you thought was going to be sold, didn’t get sold. Happy Auctioning!
Often times people will see something up for auction and want it. That’s good. Auctioneers love it when people want to buy the items that are up for auction. They get especially excited when more than one person want an item. It makes for a good auction. Lots of bidding, fast talking, anticipation, and electricity fill the air. It’s a lot of fun.
But what about when you see something and want to buy it outright before the auction even starts?
That’s a different story.
As a general rule, the simple answer is no. N.O. Not at all. Nope. You can’t purchase something pre-auction.
I can’t put it much more simple than that. So I’ll have my Minion helper tell you:
The reality could be a bit more blurred as different auction houses and internet auction companies may have different policies, but in general, it’s just not done. Here’s why.
Bidder Expectations: Many auctions nowadays have printed catalogs (often printed a few days before the auction). Many auctions are on-line with lots and pictures and active bidding. This also is considered a catalog, albeit an electronic one. Then there is the advertising. Before an auction, the auctioneer creates newspaper advertisements and flyers which list many items (some very specifically) that are to be auctioned off. An e-mail goes out to the people on the “contact me about upcoming auctions” e-mail list. Because of this, people come to the auction specifically looking for an item or two (or twenty-eight) that they want to bid on. Because the Farmall Cub was prominently listed, there will be people who will attend the auction specifically just for that Cub. Can you imagine their disappointment when they get there, walk around and around the property and can’t find the tractor? It was advertised in the newspaper. It was on a flyer they picked up or saw in town. It was even listed online. So where did it go? When it’s advertised, people expect to see it. When they don’t, they are disappointed, and sometimes can get angry and hostile. It also leads to other questions about the auctioneer’s ethical behavior.
Consignor Considerations: Consignors need to remember that a contract is a contract. It’s legally binding. Somewhere on that contract is probably a statement about no pre-sales. While you might think that if you sell that vintage Mustang ahead of time because your friend is offering you big bucks for it, you could potentially be losing out on even bigger bucks. Yes, you might sell it for less at the auction, but if you sell it ahead of time, well, there could be other repercussions. The auctioneer, not you, is probably going to end up being on the blunt end of the anger of other potential buyers who came specifically for the Mustang. Also, the auctioneer, because you’ve already broke the contract also has the right to pull the plug on the auction (and will likely tell other auctioneers in the area what you’ve done so they won’t work with you either). Keep in mind that if your friend really, truly wants the Mustang, he will come out to your auction or leave an absentee bid for it for up to the amount that he paid you for it. If there are a couple other serious bidders, you might actually earn LESS money by selling it outright than you would have received because you chose to sell it out from underneath the others’ feet.
Auctioneer Ethics: Auctioneers have a reputation to uphold. They want to be known as fair to all, and of upright character. At least the good ones do. A good auctioneer will not sell an item that is already lotted and itemized online or was advertised. They know that selling the Griswold cast-iron pans that have been advertised and have a couple online absentee bids on them a day or so before the auction will result in some pretty nasty business. Buyers will not trust the auctioneer and his auction company and not attend auctions, because if he sold the Griswold’s out from under them, what else might he sell before the auction starts? Future potential consignors may choose to not consign with this auctioneer thinking that they may not be getting the most money for their items, or that he doesn’t have their best interest in mind.
Is that to say that every auctioneer, auction house, or other community auction sites have the same rules? No. You would need to check it out first. Is that to say that an unlotted item (an un-numbered item that is not listed specifically in the auction catalog) might not get sold pre-auction? No. But most auctioneers won’t sell items pre-auction, and usually not without the express permission of the consignor.
Then there are times when an auctioneer may choose to pull an item from the auction before the auction date. But there are clear cut reasons for doing so. Notice that I said pull an item from the auction, not sell an advertised item before the auction. Those are two different things. We’ll get into those reasons in another blog. But until then, may all your auctions be fun and successful. And may the item you want to bid on not be sold before you get there…
You may have already been to an auction, so you think you know all about it.
But do you?
Do you really know what goes on (cue music: duh duh Duh) behind the scene of a well-run auction?
I bet you don’t.
Let’s look a little closer.
You see someone calmly and cheerfully checking-in customers. Asking your name, seeing if you’re in the database. Adding you to the database if you aren’t by typing in your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail. Printing out a bid card for you. Often this person will be checking-out customers as well. Telling you your grand total. Accepting your cash, check, or credit card. Printing out an invoice.
What you don’t see: Learning how the new computer system works, only to have it lock up on you. Discovering that the printer is out of ink. Switching to the old, hand-written bid card…reprinting bid cards and locating the people to give them the new one. Double-checking to make sure that you get what you pay for and that you pay for what you get. End of auction reckoning: making sure that final figures are correct for the auction house, for the consignor, for the buyer.
You see the auctioneer with his hammer in his hand. Telling jokes. Interacting with the crowd. Rattling off his chant into a microphone so everyone can hear. Trying to entice bidders to go just a little higher on their bid. Yelling “Sold!”
What you don’t see: The hours that the auctioneer has in setting up an auction. Visiting with consignors and determining commission rates. Going out to pick-up/collect items for sale in the auction house. Spending time at an on-site auction sorting through things and determining the best way to lot things. Deciding which workers to work which stations. Testing out the sound system and running to get new batteries.
You see ringers holding up items for people to bid on. Maybe being goofy. Maybe being quiet. Always getting the object to the front of the crowd for the next bid. Perhaps delivering the item to the customer. Spotting bidders in the crowd for the auctioneer.
What you don’t see: Trying to remember what lot the bidding is currently on so the next numbered lot can be found and delivered to the front in a timely manner. Studying the pieces ahead of time to be familiar with what is up for auction. Trying to figure out the auctioneers mind with un-lotted items. Does he want this? or Does he want that?
You see the clerk sitting at a computer. Sometimes walking with a clipboard and hand-writing sheets out if the computer isn’t working (or at a site where internet is not an option). Recording the item, which bid number purchased it, and for how much.
What you don’t see: A pen running out of ink. The computer not going to the next lot. Trying to learn new technology. Frantically keeping up with the fast pace of the auctioneer. Remembering numbers. Lots of numbers. So that when check out comes it all works out great. Tearing apart auction tickets and sorting them into the correct bid number slot. Tallying up auction tickets for check out (if there is no computer software).
You see the staff member who is bidding for all the absentee bidders that couldn’t make it to the auction. Holding a clip board with a list of items and bids and bid numbers. Placing bids on the floor against others who want the same item. Sometimes winning it, sometimes not.
What you don’t see: Waiting until about a half hour before the auction starts to print out a list of absentee bids. Cross-checking the print out with bids that have come in via telephone or in-person to determine who has the max bid.
You see a nicely staged auction floor. Some items have lot numbers written on them. Some items are in small boxes called flats with a mixture of things. Items are lined up around the walls, or on tables for people to look at during preview hours. Someone is selling food. Yummy food. Chairs might be set up for sitting in (for sure in an auction house).
What you don’t see: The hours spent cleaning auction items so they aren’t full of dust from the attic. Determining which items should go in which box lot (because obviously the hammer shouldn’t be in the same lot as the wire whisk). Moving items to a central location for auction (either the auction house, or a designated place outside a home). Taking pictures and editing them. Uploading them to the website for on-line auctions and/or absentee bidding. Listing items for auction on the website, including name of item & details (brand name, condition, etc.). Creating an advertisement so people know about the auction and what is up for sale at the auction. Running flyers around to area businesses. Finding a person to do concessions. Locating and contracting a Port-a-Potty for on-site auctions. Finding out there is no internet and making last minute adjustments. The list goes on…
Now you think you know what goes on behind the scene of a well-run auction?
Well, you’re a lot closer to the truth now than you were before.
A good auction takes a lot of work to make it run smoothly. Hopefully your auction experience with Hueckman Auction is a great one, whether you are a consignor or a buyer. See you at our next auction!
(Points to self)
(Looks around to see if there is anyone else)
Yes, you…Absentee bidder number 256.
(Checks pocket bidder number and shrugs “what?”)
Well, would you like a tip for the next auction that you can’t make it to?
(Vigorously shakes head yes)
Good. Here it is: Learn how to place a maximum bid.
A maximum bid. You know, the largest amount of money that you are willing to pay to purchase an item that you see on-line.
Ok. Let’s think back to the last on-line auction you “attended”. Now think hard: was it an on-line only auction, or a live auction where you could place an absentee bid on-line before the live auction started?
(“You mean there’s a difference?”)
Oh yeah. There’s a difference.
(“I don’t get it.”)
Then let me help you understand.
On-line only auctions: These are auctions in which ALL the bidding is done on-line. You have probably done this in the past, and are familiar with the practices involved in bidding in this type of auction. Here’s how it runs down:
- Morgan sees an electric guitar that is up for auction on an auction website.
- He sees that it is an on-line only auction.
- Because Morgan has already created an account with this website, he logs in and finds the lot number with the guitar that he wants.
- Morgan sees that no one has bid on it yet, so he places just the minimum bid amount of $10 and clicks the “place bid” button and sees that he is the high bidder.
- There is still a few days left in the auction, so Morgan’s not worried. He knows he can place another bid if someone outbids him on-line. He will get messaged and know that he has been outbid.
- With only 1 hour left in the auction, Morgan logs back on (knowing that he was outbid yesterday) and discovers that there have been 6 other bids on the guitar and the next bid increment is $70.
- Morgan enters the minimum bid of $70, only to be immediately told that he’s been outbid. The bid is at $80. If he wants, Morgan can enter a minimum bid of $90.
- Morgan now needs to make a choice. He can either just keep bidding the minimum bid amount until he is the high bidder, or he can place a higher bid and hope that no one has already placed a maximum bid of that much. He can also hope that the other bidders don’t check on-line and keep bidding against him at the last moment once he is the high bidder.
- With only 5 minutes left until the auction closes on the electric guitar (did I mention that it’s a Fender?), Morgan has decided to place a high bid of $175, thinking that since the bid is only at $125, he’ll try a bigger bump in price and hope that he wins.
- Yes! High Bidder!
- No! Someone just bid higher.
- Now it’s like the action at a live auction, only it’s all on-line and no one can see each other. It’ll be over when the time finally runs out and whoever was able to type in the last bid wins.
Live Auction with the option of absentee bidding on-line: This is a bit different in that while you can place an opening bid on-line (like a regular on-line auction), you will not be able to continue to place bids on-line once the live auction starts. A staff member from the auction house will bid on your behalf for the item you want against the people who were able to attend the auction. In order for you to have the best possible chance of being the winning bidder, you MUST place your maximum bid before the on-line absentee bidding closes. The auction house has to close the on-line absentee bidding about 30-60 minutes before the live auction in order to prepare for the auction. Let’s see what this looks like.
- Bill knows that there is a Barbie up for auction at Hueckman Auction’s monthly Thursday night auction that he doesn’t yet have in his collection. He plans to be at the auction.
- Acacia wants that very same Barbie, but knows that she can’t be there because she has cheerleading practice.
- Acacia is sad until she remembers that she could place an on-line absentee bid and have someone from the auction house bid for her (like having your own personal bidder at the auction).
- Acacia logs in. She sees that the opening bid is $1. She places that bid amount. She’s now the high bidder. However, Acacia is smart enough to realize that chances are, someone will be willing to bid higher than that at the live auction.
- So Acacia decides that in order to make sure that she gets the Barbie, she places a maximum bid of $100. That’s how much she wants it. It’s a really cool Barbie.
- The day of the auction arrives. Shanna closes the on-line absentee bidding and prints out the sheet that has a list of opening bids from on-line bidders and what the highest possible bid price is for each item. Even though others bid on-line for the Barbie, none has as high of a maximum bid as Acacia, so someone from Hueckman Auction’s staff will bid on Acacia’s behalf. If no one at the live auction bids more than $100, Acacia will win the Barbie.
- The bidding starts. Because the opening high bid for the Barbie on-line is $5, that’s where the bidding on the floor will start unless someone at the live auction starts the bid higher than $5. The staff member will actively and competitively bid out loud for Acacia until either she wins the Barbie (at whatever price beneath and/or up to her maximum bid), or until the price goes above her maximum bid and she’s out of the game.
(“Ok, I think I get it now…maybe…”)
Here, how about you watch it in action.
(“Ok…so, I can’t just type in $1 as my bid and expect to win it.”)
Nope, you can’t.
(“Not even if I double check it right before the bidding closes and no one else bids higher than $1”.)
(“Because someone at the actual live auction might bid more than $1.”)
Now you’re getting it.
(“So, I need to enter the biggest amount of money that I want to spend on the Barbie, I mean, whatever it is I want to hope to win.”)
By George, I think you’ve got it!
(“Now I know why I didn’t win the item for only $1. I thought that was too good of a deal.”)
Great! Now you can do on-line absentee bidding with confidence.
(“Yes! I have just one more question for you.”)
(“Did Morgan get the guitar?”)
Hey! I’m back! Hopefully you’ve gotten over being confused about the main types of auctions, because now I’ve got a few more auction types for you. Today, we’ll discuss reserve auctions, absolute auctions, and minimum bid auctions. Ready? Good!
Reserve Auction: Have you ever had a reservation over something you had to decide? Or booked a reservation at a hotel? Perhaps reserved a place for your friend next to you in the lunch room? Well, then you have a sense of what a reserve auction is. When something is reserved, it is held in place until certain conditions are met.
At a reserve auction, the item up for bid has a reserve price: a hidden price that must be met before the item is allowed to be sold. It’s the minimum amount that a seller is willing a accept for his item that’s up for auction. The seller is under no obligation to sell unless the reserve has been met. When bidding on-line, you will see an obvious icon showing either “Reserve not yet met” or “Reserve met”. Just like any on-line auction, you should probably place your maximum bid, otherwise you risk being outbid by another bidder. If your maximum bid exceeds the reserve (which you don’t know), the program will find the bid increment closest to the reserve price and bid that for you. Confused yet? I’m sure that was clear as mud. SO…let’s look at it this way.
Bob goes to Hueckman Auction’s website and sees a trilobite (that’s Wisconsin’s state fossil!) that he would like to add to his collection. He sees that he has almost 1 day left to bid, that the next bid increment is $10. Bob also sees the words “Reserve Not Met” in bold blue print next to the bidding box.
Bob doesn’t know that Luanne is selling the trilobite and that she has decided that she needs to get at least $10 for this specimen and so has set a reserve price of $10. If the bidding doesn’t reach this amount, she doesn’t want to sell the trilobite, and is under no obligation to sell it.
Bob decides that he really likes the trilobite and wants it, no matter what. (What? That could happen…). So he places a maximum bid of $100 on the trilobite. Remember, this doesn’t mean that Bob will HAVE to pay that much, just that he’s willing to pay that much. The computer sees that Bob has a maximum bid higher than the reserve, so it will make Bob bid $10 (or slightly more depending on the program–some go to the next higher bid increment). Then the words “Reserve not met” change to “reserve met”. At that point, Luanne HAS to sell it to Bob, unless he gets outbid by some other adventure seeing-trilobite hunter. Which could also happen…maybe…
Absolute Auction: I’m absolutely positive that you want to hear about this one. (Hee hee.) At an absolute auction, the item is sold, or awarded to the highest bidder, regardless of the final price. While this sounds absolutely obvious, not all auctions run this way. But an absolute auction does. Absolutely. (Ok…I’m absolutely running away with that word…mostly because it’s fun to say. Try it: Ab-so-LUTE-ly. See it’s fun to say. I digress…) In this type of auction, there is no reserve; there is no minimum bid amount that must be reached in order to sell an item. This usually creates a happy & healthy selling/buying medium (the seller is happy with what he gets for his item, and the buyer is happy with the price he pays). But this means that you might be able to buy a $140,000 house for only $55,000 because there was no reserve price set. Wasn’t that a great deal? Absolutely! (I couldn’t resist saying it one more time!)
Minimum Bid Auctions: In a minimum bid auction, the auctioneer will set a minimum amount that must be bid in order for the item to be sold at auction. For instance, an auctioneer might insist that he will not take a bid lower than $5 for a box of toy trains. That’s the minimum bid. He won’t take a bid of $1, like some folk like to do. If he can’t get someone to start the bidding at $5, he’ll set the trains aside and move on to the next item.
Did this help you? I absolutely hope that you hold no reservations, no matter how minimal, about types of auctions. (Clever, eh?) If you do have questions, send us a note and we’ll try to answer it the best we can.
What do you think of when someone says the word “auction”, or says that they are going to an auction? Do you immediately think of a bunch of upper-class people dressed to the nines, sitting on fancy chairs, silently holding up a paddle to bid (or lightly touching their nose or giving an almost imperceptible nod of the head) while an auctioneer is dressed in a tuxedo with tails and the ringers in evening gowns and tuxes show off the items like Vanna White? Or do you envision of a bunch of county farmers chewing on strands of straw, standing around a barn yelling “Yep!” each time they want to bid on a bunch of old rusty stuff? Or perhaps you think of a bunch of items on a table with a piece of paper on them and people write down their bid and then keep walking around enjoying the fair, coming back on occasion to see if they’ve been outbid?
Obviously, the word “auction” means different things to different people.
So, if you’ve looked at some of the past blogs, you’ll notice that we’ve referenced a couple different types of auctions. Hopefully, by the time you finish reading this blog, you’ll understand what each main type of auction is, and why that type of auction is chosen. The easiest reason why there are so many different types of auctions? Different reasons may lead you to try a different type of auction. Different strokes for different folks.
Live Auction: A live auction is your traditional auction. Within this, you have a couple different variations. There is the auction house / ballroom format, and the on-site or on-location auctions. These are open or transparent auctions in that people know what the other person is bidding and who is doing the bidding because you can see them. Let’s take a closer look at both of these.
Auction House: At an auction house or a ballroom auction, the auction is held in a large room. The auctioneer stands at the front of the room and items/lots are brought to the front by ringers to be auctioned off by the people in attendance. Each auction house has its own “flavor”. Some favor a very quiet bid floor where people hold up their little paddles and nobody other than the auctioneer says anything (or much of anything). Other auctioneers like a bit more life in their auctions and encourage people to move around and be vocal about their bids. This type of auction lends itself best to consignments and may have several different sellers. If you only have a couple choice items to sell, this may be the way to do it.
On-Site / On-Location: If when someone says “auction”, this is what most people envision. You drive out to the location, usually someone’s home, and the auctioneer conducts the auction, often moving around from one area to another to auction off items. Sometimes this is called an estate auction, as people are auctioning off a great many items from their estate to the highest bidder. To paraphrase Forest Gump: “An estate auction is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to find to bid on”.
On-Line Auction: This has become more popular as the internet has gained popularity. Perhaps you have items to sell and want to reach a larger audience than just your city and surrounding burgs. Yes, now, you too can enjoy some of the benefits of an auction in the comfort of your own home. You don’t even have to change out of your jammies if you don’t want to. To take part in an online auction, you simply register as a bidder (including your credit card number to secure your bids), then scroll through the items for that auction. Then if you see something you really like, you type in the amount you want to bid, click a button and Viola! You are now the high bidder on a basketful of great-grandma Johanna’s handmade aprons and embroidered dishtowels! Or not. You might have already been outbid by someone who placed a higher maximum bid. But more on THAT in a latter blog.
Sealed Bid Auction: This is usually when something of greater value (selling a home perhaps) or a contracting a service (like the city is looking for sealed bids on the construction of the new pavilion in the city center) is being considered and when confidential bids are preferred. People put down their bid (and sometimes terms) in an envelope, seal it, and deliver it to a certain place by a specific time. The party involved in the selling/purchasing will then look at the bids and make their decision.
Silent Auction: This is a very quiet auction. No talking aloud. Ok. Not really. But it is quiet in the sense that there is none of the traditional auctioneer banter and no one calling out bids. Often people donate items for a silent auction in the hopes of raising money for some charity or event. In front of each item is a piece of paper. Often the paper states the approximate value of the item. People then write down their name and the amount of their bid. Then the next person sees it, decides they want it, and records their name and a higher bid amount. The silent auction has a set ending time when people can come to see if they managed to win the gift certificate for a pedicure, pay for their pedicure voucher, and take it home.
Now, obviously, there are a few more specific auction types within these auctions mentioned above. There is the absolute auction, the reserve auction and the minimum bid auction, just to name a few. But I won’t confuse you with those now. I’ll save that for another time.
Welcome back to “Everything you ever wanted to know about Auction Bingo Lingo! As promised, here are a few more words that you may see and hear at live auctions.
Terms & Conditions: Since I mentioned “Terms & Conditions” in “As Is” in the last blog , I figured I better define that. The terms and conditions are a list of the rules of the auction and certain aspects of the purchase/sale agreements. This list may include things such as items are saying that items are sold as-is, stating buyer’s premiums to be charged, the amount of sales taxes that must be charged, what kinds of payment are accepted, and when items need to be removed.
Lot: A lot doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of stuff. (See how I did that there? It’s ok…go ahead and laugh. I did.). A lot is simply an item up for auction. Each item, or group of items, is given a lot number. This helps keep the clerking easier and helps the flow the of the auction. If a catalog has been printed, or the auction is on-line, it also allows you to also keep track of which items you are wanting to bid on. Sometimes things are put into a box lot. This just means that a group of things have been put together in one lot, often placed in a box and will usually fetch just one price for the entire box.
Choice: Sometimes an auctioneer will announce that she is going to allow the next winning bidder their choice of items/lots on a table. There might be 10 different things on a table and the bidding starts. The winning bidder is allowed to chose what they want from the table, and how many items they want to purchase for that price. Say Bill is the high bidder at $15. Bill chooses the box of jewelry and a fishing reel. Bill pays $15 for EACH item he chose making a total of $30. The auctioneer can either let the rest of the bidders make a choice of items for $15, or start the bidding all over again.
Times the money: The auctioneer will announce that this lot is a times the money lot. This means that if there are 4 items in a lot (say 4 chairs), and you are the high bidder at $20, you will be paying 4 TIMES the money ($20 in this case), or $80 total.
Free Space: Just kidding…there is no such thing as a free space in an auction, just in Bingo. Although you don’t usually have to pay to attend the auction. So that’s free.There’s that.
Preview: This is a chance for people to look at the items in person before the auction starts. Take time to look the item over, take notes, and make some decisions about how much you really want to win that item (and you know you do!).
Clerk: This is the person who is frantically trying to record who (which number) bought what (which lot) for how much (money). It can get crazy when choice is being auctioned.
Buyer’s Premium: This is an additional percentage added to the winning high bid. This is not a tax. See one of our previous blogs for more detailed information on Buyer’s Premiums.
Collusion: Sometimes two people will collude (or get together and make an agreement) to not bid against each other in an attempt to keep the bidding low so they can buy it for a cheaper price. It can also go the other way where someone will try to inflate the price by being a “fake” bidder.
Ringer: A ringer is a staff member that is bringing the next lot or item up for auction to the front. He or she will hold it up, sometimes giving a comment about it, and helps to identify bidders on the floor. This is not to be confused with a dead ringer…yes, that was a joke. You can laugh.
No Reserve: This means that there is no minimum price that the auctioneer must get for an item. Sometimes, however, for items that are known to be worth more or the seller needs to receive a certain amount of money, there will be a reserve price set (only known to the auctioneer), and if the bidding does not reach that set amount, you won’t win the item, even if you were the high bidder. Kind of like calling “Bingo” and then realizing that you still have a spot empty on that diagonal row.
Hammer Price: This is the winning bid amount that will be recorded by the clerk once she hears the auctioneer’s “SOLD”. In an auction house, the auctioneer will have a have hammer or gavel that he will use to pound the podium as another attention getter to let people know that lot is done and you’re moving on to the next.
Pass: This is when the auctioneer makes a judgement call to pass, or skip over, a lot for any number of reasons, usually the reserve has not been met, or no one seems interested in bidding.
Provenance: This is just a big fancy word for being able to provide or prove the history of an item. For example, it’s one thing to say that your grandmother’s hand mirror which was made in France by Colbert and came over on the Mayflower, and another thing to have the documents that back up that history. Those documents can mean the difference between an item being worth several thousand dollars or only worth $10.
Well, are you ready to play the auction game now? I hope so. If by some chance I missed a word that you would like to know more about or just plain don’t understand, please ask, and I can try to explain it for you. Because, you know, it really is fun to get a “BINGO!” and bring home a prize. Even if you have to pay for it.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Auction Bingo. I mean Lingo…
I remember one of the first auctions I ever went to. I was an adult. It was cold. It was drizzly. I was pregnant. I was tired of waiting. My husband was buying things that I saw no purpose for at all while waiting for the one thing he (note, he, not me) really came to the auction for. (“But it will look neat hanging up on the wall” he said…”Not in MY house”, I said”…)
And then there was the lingo…
Sometimes it did feel like playing Bingo…Unless you know what B2, N34, free space, horizontal, diagonal, black out, and four corners mean, you can’t play Bingo. At least not well. Same with auctions. You know, the auctioneer calls out a lot and people start pulling out their bid cards. Instead of marking their cards with the item, they start raising their hands, nodding their heads, or yelling “Yep!” as the auctioneer rattles off a bunch of mumbly gobbledygook. And then, when someone finally wins the item, it’s almost as if they got “Bingo!”. Some of them are so excited you would think they forgot they had to pay for the item later on. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment.
So anyway, in the next couple of blogs, I’m going to help try make some sense out of some common auction lingo terminology, so that you, too, can play the game. Please note, that like in Bingo, these terms have been drawn and explained in no particular order.
Bid: While this should be obvious, a bid is the amount of money you are willing to pay for an item. You will let the auctioneer know you are bidding by holding up your hand, number, nodding, or some other form of obvious communication. And I mean obvious. Because if the auctioneer doesn’t know you are bidding, how is he going to know to acknowledge your bid?
Absentee Bid/Absentee Bidder: Ok, you know what a bid is, and you know what it means to be absent, right? It means you’re not there. So an absentee bid is when you give the auction company the maximum amount you are willing to bid (and ultimately pay) for an item. Then someone from their staff bids on your behalf for that item, up to your max bid if necessary. So you’re bidding, but you’re absent. It’s like having a friend bid for you. We have a video here explaining more about absentee bids.
Bid Increment: This is the amount that a bid is raised after one bid has been accepted. The auctioneer has set increments in her head that she will jump to as a matter of course. Obviously, she could change her mind and jump the next bid a smaller amount ($5 instead of a $10 jump) depending on the audience and how the bidding on the floor is going.
Bid Card/Bid Number: When you check in to the auction (giving them your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address), you will be given a bid card with a number on it. This is your Bingo card, so to speak. Whenever you see something you want to bid on, you’ll raise this card (or some other obvious to the auctioneer signal) that you are bidding. When you win, the auctioneer needs to be able to see your number so the clerk can record that you won that item. Often people will bring along a pen or pencil and write on their bid cards the item they won and how much they paid for it. This helps them to keep track of how many things they bought, and what their grand total will come close to being.
Appraisal: When something has been appraised, you are given an estimated value for the item. Keep in mind that the price an item has been appraised at, might not be what it fetches at an auction. For example, an auctioneer might say that he has seen a specific item go for upwards of $100, but depending on the auction, the item might only sell for $50. On the other hand, it might sell for $150. It all depends on who wants it, and how badly they want it.
Auction Price: This is the actual price an item sells for at an auction.
Chant: This is when the auctioneer really gets going and lets numbers and words roll off his tongue as a part of the bidding process. Usually you will hear the current bid price and the next bid increment being asked for (along with a few other words…real or otherwise…). Don’t worry if you can’t understand all the words. Just listen for the prices and for the all important, “Going once, going twice, GONE (or SOLD!)!”. Then you know you (or someone else) just won the Bingo game for that round.
As Is: Often as part of terms, you need to know that you are buying something “as is”, with no warranties or guarantees. This means simply that you are purchasing the item for the bid price in whatever condition it currently is in. You can’t come back later and say, “hey, I thought it was in perfect condition. I didn’t notice that crack there,” and expect to get your money back. Kind of like saying “Bingo!” when you hear B7 but thought B11 was called. You aren’t guaranteed a Bingo…
Well, at this point, it’s time to take a short break to allow you to go get some food from the concession vendor (they’re the people selling food and drink at the auction). If you’re reading this at home, the vendor is your fridge. Stay tuned to our next blog for a few more terms that you can mark off on your Bingo Auction Lingo Card.