The role of an auctioneer

I’m often asked “what does an auctioneer do?”.

There’s a perception out in the market, among agents and sellers who have never used auctions, that an auctioneer just rolls up on auction day, calls the auction, asks to be paid, and that’s all there is to it.

And, like sellers whose home sells quickly and then wonder why they should pay an agent’s full commission (after all they hardly did any work!), if an auction is cancelled, agents and sellers question why they still need to pay their auctioneer – after all they didn’t call the auction.

The truth is there is a lot more to an auctioneer’s role than just calling the auction.  As an auctioneer with15 years’ experience helping people buy and sell through auction, I’d like to set the record straight.

This is who we are and what we do:

  1. We have experience. Most good auctioneers have already succeeded as real estate agents, owned agencies, been sales managers or are right at the top of the industry and are now doing what they have mastered over the previous many years which is EDUCATE & NEGOTIATE.
  2. We’re schedulers. When an auctioneer gets a booking, there is a lot of back and forth regarding dates and times that the auctioneer, agent and seller can commit to. Sometimes this takes several calls and emails just to confirm one booking. And sometimes bookings need to be rescheduled.
  3. We do our homework. There’s is a lot of legislation around auctions, and the auctioneer needs to research the property and any encumbrances so as not to get any nasty surprises on the day. Again, this again can take time in research and phone calls back and forth.
  4. We’re coaches and mentors. After a booking is made, the auctioneer coaches the agent through the campaign and is ALWAYS available to help deal with any issues that arise. These could be anything from helping with an anxious buyer or seller or a host of different situations that tend to a occur.
  5. We do more scheduling. A reserve needs to be set before the auction. This is not something the auctioneer, or agent, does on their own. This involves a meeting/conference call between all parties. Again, trying to get a time that suits all parties can be difficult and sometimes several calls are made to book the reserve setting meeting and also discuss the buyer feedback and recommended reserve and pass in price.
  6. We’re compassionate facilitators. Whether it is done via conference call, or in person, the reserve meeting needs to be handled with the utmost respect and care. Sellers usually have expectations and buyer feedback may not always meet these expectations. The auctioneer needs to educate and guide the seller, with tact and consideration, to set a reserve. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on circumstances.
  7. We do more homework. The auctioneer needs to prepare the auction, keeping in mind that each property is individual and unique and will have its own set of terms and conditions. There are also different auction options, from subject to finance to cash auctions, so different rules can apply. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to auction.
  8. We’re prepared. The auctioneer generally arrives generally minutes before the auction in order to check the property and have a chat with the sellers, and perhaps some buyers, to assist in getting everyone calm and committed to the process.
  9. We’re auctioneers. The auctioneer calls the auction.
  10. We’re third-party negotiators. Sometimes, during the auction, there is an on-the-floor negotiation that can take some time to go back and forward until common ground is reached. Experienced auctioneers can really add value here as they are not benefiting from the sale, so sellers and buyers tend to listen to them more as they do not have a vested interest in the sale and are coming in as a third party.
  11. We continue to negotiate after the auction has been called. If property is passed in, the auctioneer is usually involved in discussions with buyers and seller to help find common ground and come to a resolution.
  12. We’re accountants. Finally, the auctioneer issues an invoice, rounding off their services. An auctioneer will still issue an invoice if the auction is cancelled. As you can see, they will do a lot of work in the lead up to an auction. Also, taking the original booking meant they may have had to say no to other auctions which would then be booked with another auctioneer. When an auction is cancelled the auctioneer cannot simply fill that vacancy with another auction.

It is also worth noting that auctioneers also carry their own Public Indemnity Insurance.

So, it’s not as simple as just turning up and calling an auction, there is actually a lot of work that goes into being an auctioneer.