Thursday, July 6, 2017

Why Auction?

Why auction?  I get that question a lot.  First we must understand the objective.  Generally speaking, auctioneers are problem solvers.  What problem are we trying to solve and what are we trying to sell?

Sale of a common asset.  When dealing with common assets, the general goal is to divest the owner of the item(s) as quickly as possible.  Price for these types of assets can sometimes be lower than the seller expects, but when promoted properly by a professional auctioneer, they will achieve market value.  In fact, they have the potential to bring more than expected and sometimes do!  Things falling into this type category might be furniture, equipment, business assets, most mainstream collectibles and estate contents.  Common or distressed real estate also fits into this category.

Sale of a unique asset.  Unique assets benefit greatly from the auction format as interested bidders are very motivated to compete for something that they might not otherwise have access to.  There is a reason that Shelby Cobras and precious gemstones are commonly sold at auction.  They must still be promoted properly and professionally, but this scenario is the same as above.  Market value will be reached.  Things falling into this category might include rare coins, collector cars, highly desirable real estate, rare antiques or even intellectual property.

In either scenario, the process is honest, efficient and transparent.  Additionally, both situations benefit from competition between interested buyers.  One is about sheer liquidation, but both will yield market value.

The best example I ever read came from champion auctioneer, and all around auction rock star, Renee Jones as she recounted a phone call with a potential client.  It went something like this:

Caller: We are looking at your company and another group to handle our Mom's estate. What makes you different? 

Renee: Well, thanks for asking! While I can take up a tremendous amount of your time let me provide you with what I believe is most important for you to consider when making such an important decision. 

1. Public auctions allow for competitive bidding in real time. It is an equal playing field for all customers - not first come first serve and we sell EVERYTHING in a very short period of time. 
2. We are licensed and regulated by the state. 
3. We are insured and do not use temp labor for our auction events. 
4. We do not purchase assets at our auctions for personal use or to "flip" for profit. 
5. I can provide you with positive references from clients all over our region.
6. We charge a competitive commission, no up front costs, and handle all transactions - credit card, wire transfer, checks and accept the risk associated with them. 
7. We collect sales tax and follow the law to the letter. 
8. We have appraisers on staff and catalog writers who are experts in what they do. 
9. We have real estate agents in our firm who can handle the real property transactions as well. 
10. And above all else - We want your business and will provide you with professional service beyond reproach. Now, ask me anything you would like so I can help you make the best decision...

Caller: Renee, can you meet us in the morning to sign a contract? 

Renee: Absolutely.

I would be happy to talk with you further about how the auction method of marketing can yield results for you.  Whether you are an attorney, banker, trustee, executor, real estate agent, or just a regular guy like me, I likely have a solution for your situation.  Feel free to reach out any time!

Alex Grovenstein
GA Auctioneer License #4105
SC Auctioneer License #4534
GA Real Estate License #366186

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Vintage tractors and 200 farm toys to be sold at auction April 13-23

A collection of five vintage tractors and over 200 farm toys, known as the Southeast Georgia Collection, will be sold at auction April 13-23.  The name for the auction arose because of the rarity of such a large collection of this type in the southeastern United States.

"It is quite a treat to find a farm toy collection of this size in Georgia," said auctioneer Alex Grovenstein.  "They are a little more common in the midwest and other parts of the country, but not really in Southeast Georgia."

The collection consists of nearly every brand imaginable from John Deere and Ford to Case, International and Massey Ferguson.  You will even find White, Gleaner and Co-op.  Most of the toys are 1/16 scale models by Ertl, but there are others including Spec Cast and Tru Scale.  The collection also includes several special edition tractors that were only available at toy shows.  Perhaps two of the most sought after items in the auction are two very large 1/8 scale tractors, a John Deere A and Ford 8N, autographed by Joseph Ertl.

Toys are not the only items in this collection.  The auction will also include five real vintage tractors as well.  Need a grader?  Bidders will have the chance to compete for a rare Allis Chalmers WC Speed Patrol.  Also included is what Grovenstein calls one of the finest original examples of a vintage tractor that he has ever seen.

"We are proud to offer a nearly all original John Deere 430.  It is such a wonderful tractor that screams 'agricultural heritage' because it's almost as it it came from a time capsule."

Bidding on the Southeast Georgia Collection will end beginning at 7:00 PM EST on Sunday, April 23.  Nationwide shipping is offered on all toys.  To view the entire catalog and register to bid, visit South Auction and Realty online.

#AuctionAlex  #NAAPro  #AuctionsWork

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Auctioneers Helping Auctioneers. AHA!

The peer support level among professional auctioneers is a relationship unrivaled in any other field.  It instantly creates a worldwide network that allows an opportunity to serve clients at a high level and also legitimizes the trade.  I've spent the past week on the campus of Indiana University interacting with fellow auctioneers during my second year of the three-year program, of the National Auctioneer's Association, known as the Certified Auctioneer's Institute.

We heard from some absolute giants in the auction industry.  I was also able to interact with and watch some other dynamos who just happened to be in my class.  An association president, a firefighter, successful ladies, and a legit war hero just to name a few.  It was both encouraging and humbling at the same time.  I learned something from each of them.  I learned things that challenged me and others that edified me.  I was reminded to take care of myself so that I can in turn take care of others.  Perhaps it's time for a checkup with a physician..... which would be my first visit since 1998...

The key moment for me was a presentation near the end of our time in Bloomington.  Our final speaker was clearly a man of God.  He mentioned it in passing, but his light was burning bright throughout his remarks.  He posed to us a question..... Why do we do what we do?  I enjoy helping people.  Whether that's schlepping tables at a PTO event or orchestrating an auction that solves a problem for a giant manufacturing company, I just like to help.  But why do I like to help?

I've come to learn over the last few years that God has called me to help.  After waiting for years for a supernatural tap on the shoulder with detailed plan, I finally figured out that God just wants me to help other people and do it for his glory.  Its that simple.  So I wrote it down:

"Bring glory and honor to God by helping other people"

How does that relate to business?  I help folks for free all the time, but I'm certain that God wants me to work and get paid.  As I thought about it in class and on the drive south, I came up with some ways that I can (and already do) help people through the auction business.

I help consignors by selling their property in an honest and efficient manner.
I help investors who make their livelihood by buying in hopes of appreciation.
I help re-sellers gain access to items that they sell again to make money for their family.
I help collectors fill gaps in the collections that they love.
I help the landlord of the properties I rent out of which I conduct auctions.
I help my coworkers as we build a successful business

.....and what do you know.  I make money doing that, which helps my family and then allows us to help our Cub Scout Pack, Kiwanis Club, Church and others.

I have a file full of other nuts and bolts to take home and implement, but this exercise will be the one that guides me.  Auctioneers Helping Auctioneers.  It wasn't the one I expected when I drove up to IU, but it was my AHA! moment nonetheless.

#AuctionAlex  #NAAPro  #CAI2

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why do items sometimes sell cheap?

The sentiment comes in a variety of forms, but it is always rooted in the same curiosity.

"She got a heck of a deal on that!"
"That sold cheap!"
"He stole that one!"
"Why did that item sell so cheap?"

To answer that question in relation to personal property auctions, we have to examine several factors.  Demand, promotion and competition all play large roles in how an item will perform at auction.

What is the demand of a particular item?  Some items are more sought after than others.  This is constantly affected by styles, trends and social commentary.  Demand can also be very different in different parts of the country and even within a city.  In my area chalk-painted furniture is in high demand.  A nice original mahogany desk will not generate the same demand as it would if the same desk were painted light green, blue or white.  A decade ago the opposite was true.  In a world of ever changing tastes, understanding demand is important to understanding if something sold "cheap."  Keep in mind too the demand curve.  Pretty much anything will have demand at a certain price.  A worn out dump truck might not be in demand at $10,000, but to someone, it might be at $1,000.

Even if you had a warehouse full of gold bars, fine art and vintage Cadillacs, they would still need to be properly and professionally promoted to realize a market price.  If people aren't aware that things are available, they don't know to bid.  Putting a flyer on a telephone pole is not going to yield the exposure needed to fully reach prospective bidders.  If assets are not well promoted, they might sell "cheap."  Good promotion tactics are very advanced and targeted through a variety of channels.

If items are in demand and properly promoted, bidders will compete to buy them and prices will move upward.  This only happens in the auction format.  It is an inherent advantage over other forms of sale.  Interested parties will bid against each other until only one still perceives value.  Competition arises for a variety of reasons too.  Perhaps a retail business is competing with someone who has sentimental attachment to an asset.  Both will have different points of value for different reasons.  This point also brings up the debate of live versus online auctions.  Well promoted online auctions generally expose items to more potential bidders, theoretically increasing competition.  Without any competition, an item could certainly sell "cheap."  The psychology of competition at auction is actually a great idea for a future blog.  I'll have to revisit that!

If all three are aligned, auction magic happens.  An in-demand item that has been properly promoted to competing bidders will always fetch market prices.  The biggest disconnect in this equation is usually our perception of value.  Our opinion of value might be quite different than someone else..... the other bidder.  Are there variables?  Sure!  Sentimental value, associated expense (if the item must transported modified or repaired) and the risk tolerance of the bidder all can affect hammer prices.

Generally speaking, I contend that items can sell"cheap" at auction if the auctioneer does not promote them and assist in generating competition.  However, when orchestrated properly and professionally auctions show us the market.  Auctions are the market.

I'd love to hear your opinion.

#AuctionAlex  #AuctionsWork  #NAAPro

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Live or Online Auction?

Other than some charity events, it has been a year since I have done a live auction.  That changes this weekend as we will host the 6th Auction at the Fairgrounds in Statesboro, GA - INFO HERE.  Online auctions have been paying the bills and have been very successful.  However, I've missed the interaction with the crowd and I'm very much looking forward to Saturday's auction!

You may wonder....... How does a modern auctioneer decide whether to do an auction live or online?  There are a lot of factors, but it is generally decided based on which method would best suit the needs of the consignor.  Which will yield the seller the most money?  Is there a specific time frame that needs to be met?  Is anonymity needed?  Does the seller have a preference?

Both methods have their laurels and drawbacks.  Online auctions can expand the bidder pool and remove bidder inhibitions.  Live auctions can create moments of excitement and allow the bidder to physically touch the items while bidding.

If I had to choose one, I would comfortably advise that online auctions are the prefered method right now, but that statement is not absolute.  Every auction is different and every seller has different needs.  The modern auctioneer has a responsibility to make sure that his client's needs are met in the most efficient and beneficial way.

Do you need to sell?  I'd be happy to present a proposal addressing your needs.

#AuctionAlex  #AuctionsWork  #NAAPro

Friday, June 10, 2016

Own a Piece of Savannah History

June 13th will be the first day of an online auction where bidders will have the opportunity to own a piece of Savannah history as the fixtures, equipment, decor and memorabilia from Johnny Harris Restaurant will be offered at auction.

The stories read like that of a vintage southern novel.  The autographed menus hanging on the wall act as a kind of inventory mechanism, denoting the famous patrons from over the years.  The booths still have that private feeling just as they did when the curtains were pulled so that patrons could indulge privately just after the end of prohibition.  The doors of the kitchen show the age associated with wood that has been bumped into by what has to be thousands of different servers, cooks and bus boys.  With all the history, two specific things stuck out to me as I prepared the property for auction.

Did you know that Johnny Harris has a cellar?  Most people do not.  Originally used to store ice, the cellar was once used to store wine as well.  The cellar door spoke to me during auction prep.  It was old, but had been wonderfully preserved down below.  It even has the original hardware on it.  I knew that I had to harvest it and offer it at auction.  I did exactly that, item number 309.  As interesting as the cellar door is, its story pales in comparison to the story behind the murals that surround the top of the main dining room.

According to Johnny Harris President Norman Heidt, the story goes that after spending some time in his new building, Johnny Harris decided that he didn't like the way that the ceiling looked.  One day in the late 1930s a gentleman fresh out of prison came by looking for work.  When he told Mr. Harris that he could paint, a deal was struck.  The gentleman was given food and a place to stay for as long as it took to paint the 3 1/2'x12' murals.  A stunning example of depression era folk art, these murals will also be offered at auction, item numbers 113-126.

What an honor it is to conduct this auction!  Johnny Harris has been a part of my career from the beginning.  I hosted lunch meetings there as a development officer at Memorial Health.  I fed the GACA all-star Basketball teams there when I worked with the Greater Savannah Sports Council.  I hosted alumni luncheons there when I worked with Georgia Southern University.  Now, as an auctioneer, I have the opportunity to help close the book on this gem of Savannah history. It's absolutely an honor and a privilege.


#AuctionAlex  #NAAPro   #AuctionsWork

Monday, May 23, 2016

Who is Auction Alex?

I always had an interest in becoming an auctioneer.  However, auctioneer school wasn't something that high school guidance counselors typically touted as an option in the late 1990s.  Everyone was to go to college, earn a degree and enter the white-collar workforce.  Of course, I did that.  After a 12+ year career in non-profit development and communications, I decided it was time to finally pursue a lifelong interest and earn my auctioneer's license.  In fact, I wrote a blog about that experience too.  In 2014, I was licensed GAL #4105 by the state of Georgia.  I am also licensed as an auctioneer in South Carolina, #4534 and a licensed Georgia real estate agent, #366186.  I am proud to be helping South Auction and Realty expand into the Statesboro and Savannah, GA markets.

My mission as an auctioneer is simple:
Help people convert assets to cash in an honest and efficient manner.

What do I sell?  I offer, at auction, real estate, personal property, business liquidations, farms, equipment..... almost anything.  At this time, I sell everything except wholesale cars and firearms (though I do have contacts with which I can partner to sell those too!)  I also sell real estate via traditional listing methods as well.

Non-profit experience?  That's right.  I had a great career in non-profit development.  I know what it takes to make your charity auction successful.  Whether you need help from the early planning stages, or just a bid-caller the night of your event, I can help!

What about ethics?  I feel VERY strongly about doing the right thing, especially in the auction business.  Call it a pet peeve; call it common courtesy.  I adhere strictly to the NAA Code of Ethics.

How can I help you?

#AuctionAlex  #NAAPro  #AuctionsWork