Pulling an Item Before or During the Auction: The Why’s and Wherefore’s

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Pulling an Item Before or During the Auction: The Why’s and Wherefore’s

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.

Acacia (age 13) with her Farmall Cub

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!

 

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