Just like any profession, there are good and bad. Attorney's, Plumbers, Handymen, Car Mechanics, Doctors, Politicians... YOU NAME IT. While most auctioneers operate with integrity and professionalism, it's essential to be vigilant and aware of potential signs of a bad auctioneer or company. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
Lack of Transparency: A trustworthy auctioneer should be transparent in their operations. If an auctioneer seems evasive or avoids providing clear answers to your questions regarding auction procedures, bidding rules, or the property's history, it could be a cause for concern.
Questionable Credentials: Verify the auctioneer's credentials and affiliations. Legitimate auctioneers are typically members of state and the National Auction Association and possess proper licensing and certification. If an auctioneer cannot provide evidence of their professional qualifications or claims membership in non-existent organizations, it may indicate dishonesty.
Manipulative Bidding Practices: Watch for suspicious bidding patterns or tactics employed by the auctioneer. Crooked auctioneers may use shill bidders— bidders posing as genuine bidders—to artificially inflate prices. Look for consistent bidding from the same individuals or instances where bids quickly jump to unusually high amounts without a plausible explanation.
Hidden Fees or Charges: Be wary of auctioneers who add undisclosed fees or charges to the final purchase price. It's important to carefully review the terms and conditions of the auction and ensure that all costs, including commissions, buyer's premiums, and any additional charges, are clearly stated upfront.
Lack of Proper Documentation: Legitimate auctioneers maintain proper documentation and provide transparent records of the auction, including the terms of sale, bidding history, and final sale results. If an auctioneer is hesitant or unwilling to provide comprehensive documentation or attempts to alter or hide records, it could indicate dishonest practices.
Pressure Tactics: Be cautious if an auctioneer uses high-pressure tactics or tries to rush you into making a decision. A reputable auctioneer should allow sufficient time for due diligence, inspections, and consideration before bidding. If you feel coerced or manipulated into bidding quickly or making impulsive decisions, it may be a warning sign.
Negative Reputation or Reviews: Research the auctioneer's reputation and search for online reviews or feedback from previous participants or clients. If you come across consistent negative feedback, complaints about fraudulent practices, or reports of unethical behavior, it's important to take these warnings seriously.
If you suspect an auctioneer's misconduct, consider reporting your concerns to relevant auctioneering associations or regulatory bodies that oversee the industry. Remember, it's always advisable to work with reputable auctioneers who have a proven track record and adhere to ethical standards, as they prioritize the best interests of both buyers and sellers.