Are you confused by all the Auction-Speak?
You don’t need to be. Here is a list of the most common terms used in the auction industry. Whether you’re looking to attend an auction or you are an aspiring entrepreneur, this glossary will help. (from the National Auctioneer’s Association)
A form of bidding where a potential buyer submits a bid orally, by phone, or in written form before the auction. The auctioneer or clerk will then execute the bid for the absent bidder.
Just what it sounds like. The auctioneer and seller accept no responsibility for an item’s condition; it’s the buyer’s responsibility to attend the preview to assess the piece before bidding.
Auction With Reserve
An auction in which the seller or his agent reserve sthe right to accept or decline any and all bids. A minimum acceptable price may or may not be disclosed and the seller reserves the right to accept or decline any bid within a specified time.
A prospective buyer’s indication or offer of a price they are willing to pay to purchase property at auction. Bids are usually in standardized increments established by the auctioneer.
A form executed by the high bidder confirming and acknowledging the bidder’s identity, the bid price and the description of the property. Also known as “Memorandum.”
Individuals of a live auction team whose primary responsibility is to accurately interpret and effectively communicate buyer participation to their auctioneer. They should also be qualified to assist prospective bidders with the necessary information to make a better informed buying decision. Also known as “ringmen”, “bid spotters” or “groundsmen.”
The person who actually “calls,” “cries” or “auctions” the property at an auction, recognizing bidders and acknowledging the highest bidder. Commonly known as the auctioneer.
The number issued to each person who registers at an auction.
A method of sale whereby the successful high bidder wins the right to choose an asset or assets from a grouping of similar or like-kind assets. After the high bidder’s selection, the asset is deleted from the group, and the second round of bidding commences, with the high bidder in round two choosing an asset, which is then deleted from the group and so on, until all assets are sold. Also known as “Buyer’s Choice.”
Bookkeeper or Clerk
The individual responsible for the accounting and paperwork at an auction sale.
Buy in or Buy back
When bidding for an item does not meet reserve; it remains the property of the seller. The auctioneer may say “pass” when this occurs.
An advertised percentage of the high bid or flat fee added to the high bid to determine the total contract price to be paid by the buyer.
Catalog or Brochure
A publication advertising and describing the property(ies) available for sale at public auction, often including photographs, property descriptions and the terms and conditions of the sale.
An individual employed by the principal auctioneer or auction firm to record what is sold and to whom and for what price.
The fee charged to the seller by the auctioneer for providing services, usually a percentage of the gross selling price of the property established by contract (the listing agreement) prior to the auction.
Conditions of Sale
The legal terms that govern the conduct of an auction, including acceptable methods of payment, terms, buyer’s premiums, possession, reserves and any other limiting factors of an auction. Usually included in published advertisements or announced by the auctioneer prior to the start of the auction. Also known as “Terms & Conditions”.
A listed range that reflects the price an item is likely to bring at auction. This is based on a variety of factors, including the item’s condition, rarity, and quality, as well as recent sales of similar items.
Price established by the highest bidder and acknowledged by the auctioneer before dropping the hammer or gavel.
A group of objects offered for sale as one unit; an example of this would be an entire dining room set sold together, rather than as individual pieces.
The highest price that a property will bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.
Properties owned by multiple sellers, offered through a common promotional campaign and auctioned in a single event.
A charge paid by the owner of property offered at a reserve auction when the property does not sell.
An auction conducted on the premises of the property being sold.
The first bid offered by a bidder at an auction.
Specified date and time property is available for prospective buyer viewing and audits. Also known as “Open House” or “Inspection”.
The minimum price that a seller is willing to accept for a property to be sold at auction. Also known as “reserve price”.
The person designated by the auction company who is responsible for organizing the details of an auction. Also known as “project manager”.
Entity that has legal possession (ownership) of any interests, benefits or rights inherent to the real or personal property.
Terms and Conditions
The printed rules of the auction and certain aspects of the Purchase & Sale Agreement that are read and/or distributed to potential bidders prior to an auction sale.
When two or more bidders bid exactly the same amount at the same time. This must be resolved by the auctioneer.
Failure to reach the reserve price or insufficient bidding.
Online Auction Lingo: Decoded!
While many terms are the same whether you attend an auction or bid online, there are a number of abbreviations and descriptions unique to online venues.
As is – no guarantees or warranties; sellers of as-is items usually don’t accept returns or refunds (unless the item is damaged or lost by the shipping company).
F – Fair; worn or slightly damaged, but still functional.
G – Good; minor cosmetic flaws that don’t affect the piece’s function.
HTF – Hard to find.
LE – Limited Edition.
Mint – Perfect; like new.
NBU – Never Been Used; like new.
NM – Near Mint; very good, but not perfect, condition.
NWT – New With Tags; new items with original tags or labels still attached.
P – Poor; item is extremely worn, damaged, broken, or missing parts.
SIG – Signed; note that it’s difficult, often impossible, to verify signatures. A certificate of authenticity is better.
VG – Very Good; minimal to no damage or wear.
Remember: the online auction terms listed above are common usage these days, but sellers create new abbreviations every day. Most auction sites allow you the opportunity to ask the seller questions before bidding; take advantage of it!