A little bit about auctions

A little bit about auctions

Agency of Auctioneer

An auctioneer’s authority normally terminates upon the completion of the sale and the collection of the purchase price, but the seller can revoke the authority at any time prior to the sale. According to some authorities, the buyer or seller can end the auctioneer’s authority to sign a memorandum on his or her behalf between the time of the fall of the hammer and the signing of the memorandum, but the prevailing view deems the auctioneer’s authority to be irrevocable. Private sales by an auctioneer are generally impermissible.

Conduct and Validity of Sale

A bid is an offer to purchase, and no obligations are imposed upon the seller until the bid is accepted. It can be made in any manner that demonstrates the bidder’s willingness to pay a particular price for the auctioned property, whether orally, in writing, or through bodily movements, such as a wave of the hand. Secret signals between the bidder and the auctioneer militate against equality in bidding and are thereby prohibited. The auctioneer accepts a bid by the fall of the hammer or by any other perceptible method that advises the bidder that the property is his or hers upon tendering the amount of the bid in accordance with the terms of the sale. An auctioneer can reject a bid on various grounds, such as when it is combined with terms or conditions other than those of the sale, or is below the minimum price acceptable to the owner.

A deposit is not a pledge but a partial payment of the purchase price, usually made payable to the auctioneer who retains it until the completion of the sale.

Rights and Liabilities of Buyer and Seller

In an unconditional sale, title passes to the bidder when the auctioneer’s hammer falls. If conditions exist, title passes upon their fulfillment or through their waiver, the intentional relinquishment of a known right. The bidder is ordinarily entitled to possession when he or she pays the amount bid.

The seller has a lien, a security interest, on the property until the price is paid. If the purchaser fails to comply with the conditions of a sale, the seller can regard the sale as abandoned and sue for damages. Where a resale occurs, and the price is lower than the contract price, the defaulting buyer in some jurisdictions is liable to the seller for the difference between what he or she had agreed to pay and what the seller received on the resale. In general, whether a deposit or a partial payment must be repaid depends upon which party was responsible for the uncompleted sale. If the buyer is responsible, he or she cannot recover either the deposit or partial payment.


The party employing the auctioneer pays a commission .The auctioneer is entitled to a reasonable sum unless a statute or contract provision determines the amount.

Online Auctions

Large organizations can participate in online auctions but so can individual sellers and small businesses.The rules for online auctions are fairly straightforward. For a typical person-to-person site, the sellers will open an account and are assigned an on-screen name. They must pay a fee whenever they conduct an auction. The seller can set a time limit on the bidding, as well as a minimum price. If a buyer puts in a bid that the seller accepts, they complete the transaction, often via email, arranging for payment and delivery of the goods. Many sites allow buyers to pay by credit card (which protects the buyer in case merchandise is not delivered); some individual sellers require payment by cashier’s check or money order (to protect against bounced checks). Some buyers and sellers conduct their money transactions through online payment or online escrow services, which serve as a secure site for sending and receiving payment information. These payment arrangements are more a matter of caution than lack of trust. In fact, auction sites usually offer some form of insurance or guarantees to ensure that merchandise is both paid for and delivered as agreed by the buyer and the seller.

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Credits: encyclopedia.com

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