Finding right auctioneer: Property sales in heat of competition

Whether your looking to sell your home, vehicle, or excess inventory from your business, you should consider selling your property at an auction. Auctions offer a fast-paced way in determining what price the market bring for your property.

With the combination of solid pre-sale marketing and the auctioneer’s ear-catching chant, you could have enthusiastic, attentive buyers competing to purchase your property.

Often, items sell for far more than their estimated value, and it can be more efficient.

May take months.

Placing an ad in the classified section or posting a “For Sale By Owner” sign may garner only a lukewarm response – “tire kickers” just looking. It may take months to finally sell real estate property, and even then the sale price might be much lower than you had hoped.

But holding an auction takes a bit more time than simply contacting an auctioneer and collecting the cash after the sale. For you, it means determining if your property is right for auction and finding and contracting with an auctioneer that meets your needs.

For the auctioneer, it means marketing your merchandise, preparing and conducting the sale, and tallying and dividing the proceeds from that sale.

What follows is a brief look at the steps you need to take to determine which auctioneer best meets your needs.

Choosing right auctioneer.

If your property is right for auction, then you’re ready to begin looking for an auctioneer. The easiest way to find an auctioneer is to search the National Auctioneers Association’s on-line database. The database is searchable by state and auctioneer specialty, and includes nearly 6,000 experienced auctioneers.

You can also find auctioneers by looking in the Yellow Pages under “auctioneer.” Or you can locate an auctioneer by looking for auction ads in the newspaper.

Finding an auctioneer is easy. Hiring the right auctioneer takes a little more effort. You will want to weigh several factors carefully before signing a contract. Price shouldn’t be the only determining factor in making your decision. You should also consider:

* Auctioneer specialty – Many auctioneers specialize in only a few types of auctions. They will best know the market; the value of your property and how to attract the buyers most interested in your property.

* Experience – Auctioneers can conduct anywhere from a few dozen or over 100 auctions in a year. Seasoned auctioneers know the market and know how to get the best price for your property.

* Referrals – Auctioneers have plenty of success stories to share. But don’t just take their word for it. Ask former clients for their thoughts on their sales.

* Licensing – Many states require auctioneers meet professional licensing requirements. Municipalities may also require auctioneers have permits or licenses.

* Professional affiliation – Members of the National Auctioneers Association and state auctioneer associations keep abreast of their respective specialties, regulatory requirements and changes in your market. More importantly, NAA members are governed by a code of ethics, which ensures professionalism and protects both you and the buyer.

* Reputation – While less tangible, an auctioneer’s reputation is crucial to the success of an auction. This is a blend of experience and character. An auctioneer who is trusted and respected in their community will more likely attract a devoted group of buyers willing to attend and bid at their auction. Talk to former clients and people who attend auctions frequently.

If in doubt, ask questions. What type of auction is best for my property? What types of services do you offer? Where will the auction be held? How soon will I receive the proceeds from the sale? Learn what you can now to avoid any misunderstandings later.

Be prepared.

The auctioneer will have some questions for you as well. How soon must your property be sold? Why are you selling now? Have you tried selling before through other methods?

While you’re trying to choose an auctioneer, the auctioneer will be determining if they can meet your needs and get the best price for your property.

Once you’ve made your choice in an auctioneer and determined the services you want, you’ll cement the partnership by signing a contract.

The contract will spell out your responsibilities, the responsibilities of the auctioneer, commissions, expenses you’ll pay and when you’ll receive the proceeds from the sale. Read the contract carefully and make sure you know the details of the contract before you sign. If you’re unsure before you sign, ask questions.

What’s it worth?

Auctioneers boast they can sell just about anything for a tidy profit. After researching your property, an experienced auctioneer can determine its value, but it doesn’t hurt to have your own ideas about your property’s value.

So how much is your property worth? It depends upon the market for your particular piece of property. Some commodities, like real estate, depend largely upon the geographical area and sale prices for similar properties. Other, more specialized commodities, such as manufacturing equipment or heavy equipment, will attract smaller groups of buyers across a much larger area.

It also depends upon the condition of your property. Knowing the age of your property, the manufacturer, the types and extent of repairs and keeping records of regular maintenance may help determine value.

It doesn’t hurt to conduct your own research by visiting stores and consignment shops, by reading classified ads, or by checking web sites for property similar to yours.

While you are conducting your research, you must make sure that you own the property. This is particularly true of real estate. Without a deed or title to your property, it will be very difficult to sell your property at auction.

Next: What to expect

(Murphy is Web editor for the National Auctioneers Association.)

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