Saturday, July 12, 2008

The difference between online bidding and "live" auctions

As a licensed Realtor, you can hold successful online auctions. "Live" auctions, however, are strictly the province of the professional auctioneer. It's easy to underestimate the preparation and expense an auctioneer has gone through to get to the point where he can stand in front of a crowd and sell a property in a few minutes. Don't even think about it trying it yourself. Many Realtors, as well as ambitious FSBO's have failed in the attempt, despite spending significant sums on print advertising. Even a pro auctioneer may fail to sell a property at live auction. That alone should be enough to tell you not to attempt it.

The alternative you CAN successfully use is the online equivalent. The only real difference is that you won't be bid-calling in front of a live crowd. It all happens online over the Internet.

Some might argue that the online version lacks the excitement and intensity of a live auction. We beg to differ. Try bidding for something on eBay that you really want and watch the clock tick down toward zero as the auction nears closing time. See if your pulse rate and breathing go up in the last few minutes while you hope you don't get "sniped" in the last few seconds. When you win, do you feel the adrenaline rush?

There's no limit to the number of bidders you may have watching and bidding on your online auction.

They don't have to remember to show up on auction day. You'd be surprised at how many calls auctioneers get from bidders who wanted to attend an auction, but forgot the time and date.

In fact, they don't even have to watch the close of the auction on the Internet. The system allows them to place a "maximum bid" at any time before the auction closes. In other words, if a bidder decides in advance the highest price he is willing to pay, the system will record that amount, but not display it, and "auto-bid" on behalf of that bidder as other bids come in, always keeping him one bid increment higher than the next highest bid, until his maximum is reached.

Bidders don't have to drive to the auction site, nor do they have to stand in line to register.

They can remain anonymous because the system doesn't display their true identity to other bidders.

They can bid from anywhere in the world, even from a data-capable cell phone.

They can place bids anytime, day or night, at their convenience.

They will get an immediate email from the system if they are outbid.

Take a moment to consider how online bidding solves scheduling conflicts. Most buyers are working the same hours you are - weekdays. How do you effectively communicate and coordinate with them? Online bidding lets buyers act on their own schedule, whenever it suits them, with no need to call you. You should, however, schedule a "preview" of the property and show the time and date on the auction listing. Two hours on a Saturday, say from 10 - 12, is plenty. At least one agent should be on hand to conduct the showing. All prospects see the property at the same time, demonstrating interest, and stimulating bidding. Two agents is even better. One to show, one to explain the bidding process.

Contributed by John Bickel

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