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Selecting the right auction company is a very important yet difficult decision. Keep in mind that you are selecting someone to represent you  Good results at auction don't just happen, they are the result of top professionals.

Signing an Auction Contract

The following is a list of questions to ask when hiring an auction company. Often, there are sensitive family issues surrounding an auction, You should always feel comfortable with, and certainly trust your auctioneer. We recommend asking your potential auctioneer about all of these, even better is a written proposal explaining the auction process, terms, responsibilities, etc.

Are you licensed under the state of Wisconsin to perform auctions?
Licensure requires adherence to a set of standards for service, regulated processes for the handling of money for the auction from start to finish, and a requirement for continuing education to keep current on laws, technologies and changes to the auction industry.


Is a written contract or auction proposal that completely explains the services, including an auction budget, a timetable, sellers responsibilities, and the Auctioneers responsibilities provided?
Auctioneers vary in the way they run their business, what they charge for, what they do, what they expect of the seller - We suggest getting this down in writing so there are no surprises.

What is involved with setting up for the auction, who is going to do it, and what will it cost?
Much of the cost in an online auction is the set up, make sure you know how it's being paid for and if there are any requirements for the property? 

Are there any hidden costs that won't be in the auction budget?
Auction companies vary in how they charge, be sure you are aware of all the costs for the auction including items such as set up, cleaning, tranport, technology fees, photography fees, etc.

Do you use a buyers fee, and if so how are the proceeds of the buyers fee being used.
A buyers fee is standard for online auctions. It is paid by the buyers to assist with the costs of the hosting platform, credit card fees, advertising, and the additional costs of selling online. 

Who will know the settlement results of my auction and are these results strictly confidential?
How much your auction returns is your business, that number should stay between you and the auctioneer - we suggest confirming it does. 

Can you provide a list of references that you have conducted auctions for?
If you are concerned about the background or past performance of an auctioneer, ask for references, remember you are getting one chance to do your auction right.

Do you belong to the local state and national auctioneers association?
The Wisconsin and National Auctioneers Associations are committed to the advancement and professionalism of the Auction industry. They provide training and seminars, ethical guidelines, continuing education for licensure, etc. Serious Auctioneers belong to these associations - Be sure your auctioneer is a member.

How will you advertise my auction? and How many people will know about my items at auction?
Maximum exposure of your items to the right buyers is what delivers the best results.  This is a large part of what you are hiring in an auctioneer, you should be comfortable that your auction is being advertised locally, regionally, and nationally through a variety of sources including: Online / social media campaigns / mailing lists / targeting special collectors / and possibly print media.  

What if something happens / What about Insurance?
We encourage you to have a discussion about how the contents of the estate/property is protected.  If it is moved off site - does the auctioneer carry care/custody/control insurance.  Typically the business or homeowners policy needs to be active until the auction is finished for on location auctions.  Reputable auctioneers will be able to provide an answer to this that you both understand and are comfortable with.

Who will be on my property and how do you supervise the Preview(inspection) and load out?

This is a discussion for both the property and the items being sold.  Is the load out supervised to minimize any negative impact to the property?  
With an auction, what took years to bring into the property will be removed in days.  It is normal to expect a few scuffs and scratches.  More significant impact is not normal - discuss with your auctioneer the impact to your property, how inspections and load outs are supervised, and if they have any specific concerns relating to your auction.

How soon after the auction will I receive my payment and statement?

Typically there is some delay following the auction for checks to clear and credit card funds to be transmitted.  By auction license law, you should be paid within 30 days.  As a client you should know how soon after the auction you can expect your settlement.


One note on consignment percentage,

be sure to consider who will achieve the best price for your item(s). While it is very common to search for the lowest percentages charged to sell your item(s). Keep in mind that if Auctioneer A sells your item for $100 and charges you 25% you get $75 back, If auctioneer B charges you 30% but sells your item for $125 you get $87 back. Often just one more bid increment can make up for what seemed like a better deal.  Just as in anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Be sure you're not selecting the cheapest, but the best auctioneer you can.   

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