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Throughout past generations the auction block has allowed buyers and sellers to meet at a central location to market their goods and determine the market value of a product through competitive bidding. Today the use of the auction method has become an essential tool for individuals and entities to market their assets in the most effective and efficient manner possible. 

So Why Auction? 
From a Sellers Prospective there are many reasons that the auction process is superior to other sale methods :

  • The Auction method Can allow the Seller to exceed the asking price.
  • The Auction method offers a reduction of holding costs
  • The Auction method is a faster more efficient alternative to the traditional listing. In many auction situations a given property can be effectively marketed, sold, and closed in a total window of 75 days or less.
  • Auctions are time limited, which gives the buyer more incentive to act. Not allowing the buyer to merely wait the seller out.
  • The atmosphere at an auction brings out the competitive spirit in buyers, which raises the excitement level, thus resulting in a higher price for the property.
  • The Auction method is flexible; in the sense a seller can market several different properties at one time and sell all properties at one location. The flexibility of the process also allows the Auctioneer to shape the marketing plan of each property differently to best serve the seller.
  • The Auction method also has many different alternatives to the type of auction the seller may wish to pursue, ranging from the Absolute Auction, Reserve Auction, Subject to Confirmation Auction, Sealed Bid Auctions.
  • The Auction marketing method is effective with a wide range of products including Real Estate, Timber, Equipment, Personal Property, Antiques and Collectibles, Business Liquidations and more.

Questions to Ask an Auctioneer

Selecting an auctioneer is the most important part of assuring that an auction will be successful.

When looking for an auctioneer, look for these traits:

Motivation and Initiation - to approach the job with energy and enthusiasm. This is important as they can generate the same enthusiasm in buyers.

Empathy and Involvement - to be able to put themselves in the position of the prospect - and evaluate the problems and needs.

Integrity and Honesty - to earn the trust of both the seller and the buyer.

Adaptability - to respond to needs of prospects and situations that may arise.

Flexibility - to be open to new ideas and techniques.

Knowledge - to properly sell the product being auctioned. Many auctioneers specialize in certain products and gain a reputation through their ability to sell these products. General auctioneers, on the other hand, have knowledge in a wide range of products. Although product knowledge is important, an auctioneer with the ability to learn quickly and research items can overcome initial lack of product knowledge.

FAQ'S : Please Check out the questions other customers have felt the need to ask.  Go To FAQ'S

Learn More About "The History of Auctions"

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Tom's Auction's auction management  process culminates into an auction event,  but actually dose involve over 100 separate steps from beginning to end, all coordinated by us. You are provided with your auctions details keeping you aware of the step by step auction and marketing activities at all times. This carefully orchestrated strategy takes between 4 and 8 weeks depending upon the property type and your time needs. Your auction is an accelerated marketing program rather than simply an auction.

We will review your property personal or Real,  and make an on the spot assessment of your current need, we will  provide recommendations, and a plan tailored to meet your needs.

Click here to get information about your free consultation.

We can begin implementation of the accelerated marketing plan immediately upon receiving your written authorization.

We gather all available information which we will use to prepare property files and marketing materials. 

Your property is exposed to the market through a combination of direct mail, newspaper ads, signage, industry and neighborhood networking, advanced Internet marketing techniques, and other means. When possible, we will combine your property with others to expand the marketing reach.

An informed buyer is a better buyer. We make is easy for bidders to obtain full product knowledge. Ad and signage call-ins receive brochures promptly via mail, fax, e-mail, or world-wide-web. Property information is packaged for bidder review. Preview periods enable bidders to inspect property prior to auction.

Listing brokers accelerate the sales of their assets through auctions, while selling brokers earn generous commissions by registering buyers.

The auction event is handled smoothly and professionally by our auction day team. The tempo is upbeat, and bidding excitement is contagious as the auctioneer chants the price upwards. Contract signing and earnest money collection are handled quickly and efficiently to reinforce the buying decision.

On real estate transactions, our follow-up system assures that the contract speeds toward a successful closing, usually within 30 days of the auction.

Auction Process

Potential buyers of real estate or personal property through auctions have the opportunity to scoop up a tremendous deal, so it’s not surprising that our auctions are often standing-room only.

To participate in an auction, first we encourage you to inform yourself about your potential purchase. The vast majority of the time, property is sold “as-is,” which means we guarantee only clear title. While we provide a lot of information on our website and in hard copy through Bidder’s Information Packets, it is the buyer’s responsibility to find answers to their questions. Our auctioneers are happy to show you the property in advance of the auction and answer what questions they can, but rely on inspectors and experts so you fully understand what you are buying!

Another crucial part of the process for buyers is the timeline. Once the contract is signed the day of the auction, buyers have 30 days to close. Time is of the essence. The contract obligations are not contingent on the buyer’s ability to receive funding. The contract will be included in the Bidder’s Information Packet. Please read it closely!

Auctions are, in general, held on site. To participate, potential buyers must register in advance of the public, outcry auction. To register, bring your driver’s license as well as a cashier’s check made out to yourself. The terms and conditions of each auction are slightly different; in general, the check will be in the amount of either $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000, depending on the appraisal of the property.

Out-of-town buyers can bid by phone and wire funds into an escrow account. Just ask the auctioneer for details.


At the end of the auction, the winning bidder will meet with our auctioneers to sign the contract for the property and submit a 10 percent down payment for the purchase. This down payment will consist of the cashier’s check, signed over to Elliot Paul & Company Auctions, with any remaining funds paid with a personal check. Buyers have 30 days to close on the property, as time is of the essence!


Buyer/Broker/Agent Program

Tom's Auctions & Appraisals welcomes broker participation! Any licensed real estate broker is eligible to earn commission equal to twenty percent (20%) of the net commission provided their clients have been registered with the office of the auctioneer. The prospect must be registered in writing with Tom's & Auctions & Appraisals and countersigned by the broker/salesperson. The registration must be received 24 hours prior to the auction by US Postal Service, Facsimile at (757) 539-2498 or email at RealEstateSold@tomsauctioncom. The broker/salesperson MUST attend the auction with their prospect and register at the auction site, and broker/salesperson acting as principals are excluded from receiving commission. Broker/salesperson must be procuring cause. Commission will be paid at the successful closing of each transaction. If you are a broker and have any questions, please feel free to call the auctioneer overseeing the auction your client is interested in at (757) 617-9647.


Online Bidding Process

On occasion, prospective buyers can bid online in advance of the auction. To learn more, contact the auctioneer overseeing the auction of interest.

  2. BIDDER REGISTRATION: The auction is open to the public and your attendance is welcomed. To register for the property, you must display a cashier’s check in a specified amount to bid. Upon being declared the top bidder, the cashier’s check will be applied as a partial deposit and the deposit must be increased to ten percent (10%) of the total contract price of the property due immediately upon signing the contract in the form of a personal check. All cashier’s checks much be made payable to yourself. Please come prepared to participate in the auction.
  4. PROPERTY INSPECTIONS: All bidders are encouraged to personally inspect the real estate being offered. The property will be sold in “AS-IS” condition.
    The buyer will be responsible for all closing costs including, but not limited to documentary stamps, title insurance and all other closing costs. In most cases, real estate taxes for the current year shall be the responsibility of the buyer. No representation is made with respect to suitability for any intended purpose or use.
    Please inspect the property and records prior to making any bids.
  6. CONTRACT DEPOSIT, PAYMENT: Bids may not be retracted once accepted by the auctioneer. All deposits shall be paid on the day of sale. The successful bidder agrees to sign the purchase contract immediately following the auction.
    The purchase contract is available for inspection and review. The terms are not negotiable upon being declared the winning bidder.
  7. FORM OF AUCTION: Please be advised that the auctioneer shall offer the property to be  sold subject to the owners confirmation, to the highest bidder regardless of price. Neither the seller nor his representatives are allowed to bid.
  8. BROKER PARTICIPATION INVITED: Any licensed real estate broker is eligible to earn commission equal to twenty percent (20%) of the net commission provided their clients have been registered with the office of the auctioneer.

    a) The prospect must be registered in writing with Tom's Auctions & Appraisals and countersigned by the broker/salesperson. The registration must be received 24 hours prior to the auction by US Postal Service, Facsimile at (757) 539-2498 or email at

    b) The broker/salesperson MUST attend the auction with their prospect and register at the auction site.

    c) Broker/salesperson acting as principals are excluded from receiving commission.

    d) Broker/salesperson must be procuring cause.

    e) Commission will be paid at the successful closing of each transaction.

  10. CONDUCT OF AUCTION: The method and order of sale shall be at the sole discretion of the auctioneer. The auctioneer may change or modify the Terms and Conditions of this auction by announcement at the podium. Any such announcement shall take precedence over printed material or oral statements made. Bids may be accepted ONLY from bidders who have duly registered in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of sale. Bidders arriving at the auction site without the required deposit may not be permitted to participate in the auction. The auctioneer’s decision relative to bidding increments, order of sale and any
    disputes between bidders will be final. The auctioneer shall have the right to cancel or withdraw the property at its sole discretion.
  12. BUYERS PREMIUM: A ten percent (10%) buyer’s premium will be added to the high bid made and taken and included in the contract price.
  14. CLOSING: The purchase contract provides for payment of the balance of the total purchase price to be made no later than thirty (30) days from the auction date. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.
  1. MISCELLANEOUS: Please be advised that this auction will be Video recorded to provide a permanent record of this auction event.
  2. AUCTION BROCHURE: All information contained in the auction brochure, newspaper advertising, bidder information or supplied either in writing or verbally by staff members was derived from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Buyers shall rely on their own information, judgment and inspection of the property and records.
  3. PREVIEWS: Bidders are encouraged to preview the property. Contact our office for details.
  4. BIDDER INFORMATION: Due diligence and additional information is available to bidders upon request. Please contact the auction company.

Types of Auctions

There are many settings in which an auction can be conducted. Some of these venues go back hundreds or thousands of years, many have come about only in the past dozen years. All can be effective in their own way, and there is no single best way to conduct the actual auction.

Perhaps the oldest recognized method of conducting auctions is the onsite auction. This method was reportedly used by Roman officers disposing of assets seized during military campaigns, in order to raise money for continued operations. In fact, the word auction derives from the Latin “auctio”, meaning “to drive up (the price)”. Onsite auctions are still widely employed to sell single assets, directly at the property location. A similar type is the offsite auction, where an asset may be sold in another location, such as the county courthouse, usually in the context of a foreclosure. Sometimes this is also done in a courtroom – a typical example will be a Section 363 auction under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws.
Another widely used variant of this is a caravan auction, where a number of assets are sold site to site under a single marketing umbrella. Many times a situation where the seller has many scattered small assets will warrant this type of auction, as it is often likely that the greatest interest will be from neighbors of the various assets. Sometimes if there are several assets in a single neighborhood or area in the mix, one asset will be selected as the sale site for all of them.
A typical format we have seen in the past 30 to 40 years is the ballroom auction, where many assets from a market area (and sometimes multiple market areas) are sold in sequence in one afternoon or evening. These have the advantage of being able to offer a number of diverse assets on an individual basis in a very short period of time. This format is similar and probably grew out of agricultural tent auctions where multiple parcels of land may be sold to a crowd assembled under a tent.
In the past few years we have seen the development of several online auction formats.

The most common form of online auction is the online only auction. Perhaps the most familiar form of this has been popularized by eBay over the past dozen years. This is usually known as a timed online auction. Bidding ends when the bid deadline is reached, although most timed online formats now have bidding “autoextends” where the bid deadline is automatically extended for, say, 5 minutes if there are any bids placed at the deadline, with bidding concluded when 5 minutes passes with no additional bidding.
Another variant of the online auction is the live online or webcast auction. This is simply a more modern version of the “satellite” auctions of a few years back where bidders in a remote ballroom were able to bid through closed circuit TV and cameras set up at both the auction facility and the remote facility. In this format, online bidders have an audio feed, a bidding interface with images of the assets being sold in real time, and sometimes a video feed. The auctioneer is able to see and accept bids through the online interface, most often through an online facilitator, who acts as a ringperson, taking online bids and relaying them to the auctioneer in much the same way as an onsite ringperson would do.
Often, the live online or webcast auction will be conducted in conjunction with an onsite or ballroom auction, where the auctioneer is able to accept bids both from onsite and from online bidders.

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Sell today instead of months or years from today
Reduces carrying and operating costs
Frees capital for better uses
Property-specific intensive and widespread marketing
Exposure to hundreds or thousands of targeted buyers
Assures the maximum level of bidding
You select the day you want the real or personal property to sell
In a real property auctionYou control your real estate closing date
Creates a “now or never” atmosphere
Bidders know they have only one chance
They must bid their best to win!
In the case of a real estate auction the earnest money deposit is non refundable.
Noncontingent quick closing on real estate 99% closing certainty (much higher than with ordinary real estate sales)
The only term the buyers set is price

When Can an Auction Benefit Me?

Auctions can be a valuable tool for the asset owner or disposition manager in many situations.

Two very good examples are:

An auction provides an arm’s length setting for all interested bidders to compete, with an intensive marketing campaign. Holding costs are minimized, and capital is freed for other uses.

The Onassis auctions and the Atlanta Olympic auctions gave bidders the opportunity to pay what they thought the assets were worth – between 300% and 1000% of what the sellers would have asked!

Auctions Work Well For:
Personal Property
Real Estate
Financial Instruments
Antiques and Much More!

Auction Method v. Traditional Listing

Have you listed your home, business, land or other real estate on the market through a broker and it just sits there? The traditional method of selling real estate through a broker can be frustrating and timely, especially in this difficult housing market.

That’s why the auction method is ideal for motivated sellers who want their real estate and personal property sold at fair market value in a timely manner. We understand that time is of the essence, so you can expect a closing in just 60 days from signing an agreement with us.

So how does this work? There are many different kinds of auctions, and we primarily encourage sellers to hold absolute auctions – this means that your real estate will sell to the highest bidder, regardless of price. Some sellers are concerned that their property will sell for too low; but what normally happens is that the combination of a presumption of a good deal and our effective marketing methods brings a crowd of interested buyers. The end result is a sale at fair market value – or better!

Simply put, the auction process is a condensed and intense marketing effort to alert potential buyers to your real estate. In the three weeks after you sign an agreement with us, we spread the word with newspaper advertisements, direct mail brochures, email blasts to our internal listings as well as Realtors throughout the region, signs and Web site listings to garner interest. The auction is held, and contracts with the highest bidder are signed that day.

Another difference between traditional listing and auctions is the fees a seller pays. The buyer is responsible for the year’s taxes, all closing costs and the buyer’s premium. The seller is only responsible for the advertising costs. This results in substantial savings for the seller – as well as satisfaction for both the seller and the buyer!


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Single Seller/Multiple Property Auction (Portfolio Sale)
This format allows for an offering at a single location and time, or at regional locations at different times, for a single owner offering multiple properties.

Multiple Seller/ Multiple Property Auction
This format allows multiple sellers to pool their properties, creating a larger auction event. For a seller who has flexibility in terms of time, this format provides an economy of scale, allowing inclusion of smaller properties for attractive advertising contributions and brings together buyers for various properties to the same event in a synergistic way.

Sealed Bid Offerings
This format allows bidders to submit bids on pre-approved contract forms and the seller can accept or reject an offer.>

Sealed Bid Convertible
This format begins with a sealed bid program to identify the market segments and judge the depth of market. At sufficient market depths, the format may be converted to open outcry formats.

Essentially, there are four types of auctions: absolute auction (or auction without reserve); second a minimum bid auction known as a  reserve auction ,third a Subject to  Owner Confirmation Auction (no hard set reserve but subject to confirmation day of sale).Forth is a foreclosure auction. The characteristics of each type of auction are outlined below:

Absolute Auction:

  • Property sells to the highest bidder, regardless of the price.
  • Since sale is guaranteed, buyer excitement and participation are heightened.
  • Generates maximum response from the market place, thereby being the only auction process to ensure attaining TRUE market value.
  • Many sellers, including financial institutions and government agencies, have begun to use this method more frequently since an absolute action offers the best performance results of all.

 Reserve Auction:

  • Auctioneer accepts bids at or above a published minimum price. This minimum price is usually stated in the brochure and advertisements.
  • Reduces risk for seller if the seller wants a set price or will not sell. The sales price must be above a minimum acceptable level.
  • Buyers know they will be able to buy at or above the minimum. The seller may, however, limit interest in the auction to only those buyers willing to pay the minimum bid price, and therefore it must be low enough to act as an inducement rather than a hindrance. It is not only difficult to set this lower figure, but there is a great risk of setting some form of anticipated value by using this figure.
  • With a reserve auction a predetermined reserve price is set by the seller in the sales agreement with the auctioneer,the auctioneer may or may not be disclosed the reserve prior to the auction in his/her sole discretion,when the reserve price has been reached the seller by contract is fully obligated to sell the property at or above the agreed apon reserve price .
  • if minimum bid is not reached, the seller reserves the right to accept or reject the highest bid within a specified time --anywhere from immediately following the auction up to 24 hours after the auction concludes.

Sold Subject To Owner Confirmation:

The Subject To Owner Confirmation format is often used, and benefits are seen by both sellers and buyers.The seller retains the ability to refuse an unsatisfactory bid, but remains open for a meeting of the minds the day of the auction. The seller will make a yes or no decision on the current high bid or may counter offer. The buyer has the opportunity to actable or reject the counter offer. If the buyer accepts  the new open bid, bidding resumes and a sucsefull  high bid is accomplished.

Foreclosure Auction:

  • Mortgagor, through a legal procedure, forces the property to be sold thereby removing all existing deeds of trust on the property. This procedure, among other things, requires the sale to be promoted in the legal notices of the local newspaper several times prior to the sale and also requires the sale to take place within a time frame of several hours on a designated day on the courthouse steps. Although this procedure may resemble an auctioneer's method in some ways, it simply can be a legal maneuver to allow the existing mortgagor to reacquire the title of the property.
  • An auctioneer's marketing strategy usually is much more detailed because the specific property is marketed throughout the community and other market areas. Advertisements, brochures and auction signs are utilized, along with soliciting as many bidders personally as possible. This marketing strategy entices the entire market place to be at the auction site, not on the courthouse steps, at a specific time, not within the time frame of several hours, to competitively bid among each other, attaining the TRUE market value.
  • Any artificial bidding such as a foreclosure by a seller or a mortgagor to protect his/her interest has nothing to do with the TRUE value of the property. Artificial bidding can be a detrimental influence on the bidding of the market place itself, thereby diminishing the odds significantly that the property will sell for TRUE market value. Such practices are not looked upon favorably by the real estate auction industry.



Selling Real Estate

About Selling Real Estate: Articles & Tools for Sellers:

How to Buy Real Estate at an Auction

At real estate auctions the auction house, the firm that conducts auctions, acts as the intermediary between the seller and the buyer. It is not necessary to have a real estate agent represent you at an auction. Real estate offered at auctions is sold “as-is,” meaning in its current condition on the day of the sale--no repairs will be made before it is sold to you. Regardless of a property’s condition, buyers are under obligation to purchase a property won in a bid. Educate yourself by doing research on the property and the auction process before attending one.

Step 1

Obtain a list of the properties to be auctioned ahead of time from the auction house. Buyers have the option to inspect properties up to the day before the auction--the property may not be available for viewing or inspection on auction day itself. Visit each property of interest and examine them thoroughly—the interior, exterior, and surroundings or yard. If you are unfamiliar with evaluating real estate or estimating property repair costs, bring a general contractor with you.

Step 2

Estimate the value of the properties to be offered at auction. In order to know how much to bid on each property, find out the current market value (the price the property is worth today). Real estate agents will charge a nominal fee to provide you with property values.

Step 3

Arrange financing before the auction. A winning bidder is obligated to complete the purchase of a property at auction, whether the bidder has financing lined up or not. Get pre-approved for a loan by a lender to find out how much you can spend at auction. Hard money lenders provide fast, easy financing on investment properties, but charge high financing fees. Bank lenders also finance properties purchased at auction and charge lower finance fees than hard money lenders, but the bank lending process takes longer to arrange.

Step 4

Bring the exact amount of cash needed for the deposit or a cashier’s check. At most auctions, you will be required to make a deposit of $10,000 or 10% of the purchase price—whichever is greater. The auctioneer will require the deposit in certified funds. The deposit is nonrefundable. In many auctions, a buyer’s premium is added to the winning bid. This premium is added to the total purchase price of the property. Arrange for sufficient funds to cover the buyer’s premium as well.

Step 5

Arrive early to the auction. At registration you will be assigned a bidder number to use during bidding. You will need to show photo identification and proof of your current address. A driver’s license or ID card is sufficient. During registration, buyers have the opportunity to ask specific questions regarding the properties to be auctioned. Each buyer must sign documentation stating that he understands and agrees to the auction terms.

Step 6

Bid discreetly and nonchalantly by raising your bidder number calmly. Keep looking at the auctioneer while you are bidding. Avoid looking around to see what other bidders are doing while you bid. If other bidders are aware that you want a particular property badly, it could drive up the price. Decide upfront how much money you are willing to spend. Don’t let the other bidders influence you to bid higher than you had planned.

Step 7

Sign the purchase contract and the bid confirmation form upon winning the bid. Contact your lender and get the funds to purchase the property won at auction. Closing will take place within 30 days of purchasing the auctioned property. Legal title to the property will be transferred from the seller to the buyer at closing.

Broker Price Opinions & Comparable Market Analysis


What’s it worth?  Do you know the value of your home? Not the appraised value.  Not the Estimated Market Value. But the true Market value…The truth is, until your home is sold, the market value is somewhat of an unknown.  

That’s why we offer services like BPO’s (Broker Price Opinions) and CMA’s (Comparable Market Analysis).  Using comparable sales and listings, and making adjustments for various factors, we help you in determining the window of value your property might be worth.  We also have a certified appraiser on staff which gives us access to a multitude of comparables and sales.

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The benefits of selling by auction are many. Of course, converting property, possessions or inventory to cash is one of the major ones. But, people don't want to sell unless they get fair market value and that's where the auction comes in. An auction outperforms any other marketing method for whatever people have to sell. The competition created among the buyers stimulates prices and establishes current market value. And finally, the auction method is flexible. The customer decides when to sell and what to sell. Anything in real or personal property can be sold.

Well-trained auctioneers use established and successful procedures to ensure maximum benefits from an auction.

Step 1

First, the auctioneer meets with the potential seller to see what is to be auctioned and understands the seller's expectations. The auctioneer's services and the seller's desires are discussed. This process includes determining what type of auction will be utilized.

Step 2

The auctioneer will then present a proposal which details the auction date, location, time of auction, cost of advertising, sales commission and other matters. When the terms of the proposal are agreed upon, a contract is initiated.

Step 3

At this point, different steps are taken for different types of auctions. Today, with more and more strict regulations, many background checks take place to assure that the auction will conform with the Uniform Commercial Code, any city, county or parish and state license requirements, to verify title to the property, and to notify creditors of the auction.

Step 4

Next, an advertising campaign is prepared to help assure good attendance. Newspaper ads, handbills, posters, direct mailing pieces and radio and TV advertising are commonly used. A well-planned advertising program is essential to the success of the auction.

Step 5

According to the sellers' wishes, auctioneers may take the responsibility of preparing the merchandise before the auction. Much cleaning, grouping, organizing and often repairing and painting take place so that the property will be more marketable on auction day.

Tom’s Auction Tips

 Items you may need before you leave for the auction.


Print and take a copy of the on-line catalog for the auction you want to attend.

Prepare a list of items of interest for anything you’re thinking about bidding on.

Take time to preview the items of  interest to you. All Items Are Sold As-Is Where-Is.

Pen and paper, any research notes, comparable values of items of interest.

Identification, checkbook or cash, letter of guarantee from your bank if you are a first time buyer unknown to the auctioneer.

"Dealers"  Please down load a copy of the Virginia tax exempt form Found on our web site ( PLEASE FILL IT OUT IN ADVANCE)  be sure to include your VA. tax exempt number and present  it to our clerk when registering, this will qualify you for a non-taxable status at the auction.

Dress comfortably. Remember, it might be hot/cold outside but the air conditioning/heat might be working overtime inside.

There is allways ample food and drink on hand at all of our auctions.

Save a seat before you look at the preview. If this is an onsite auction you will want to bring a folding chair.

When you arrive at the auction be sure to register, Ask what types of payment are accepted. If the auctioneer charges a buyer’s premium, inquire about hauling/delivery concerns or pick-up times before you bid.

 Preview the items you bid on before you bid.  “You are the expert !

Please pay attention!  Make sure you know what item number is being bid on at all times.

Raise your hand or paddle to bid. Once you’ve been acknowledged, further bids on an item can be made by a nod of the head, etc..

If you have any questions ask the auctioneer or auction staff, we are here to help make your auction experience an enjoyable one.

Thank You!  Tom


Auction Bidding Tips

Feel free to just get your feet wet - don't think you have to go to your first auction ready to bid. Attend an auction or two in your area to get a feel for how they are conducted. Watch and listen, then move on to bidding if that makes you comfortable.

"Am I getting a bargain?" is a frequent question. Think of it this way - buyers get exactly what they want, at a cost of only one bid higher than someone else was willing to pay.

Many auctioneers spend some time addressing commonly asked questions and explain how the auction is going to work. Some even conduct pre-auction or practice sessions, or brief tutorials, about the auction process. If you are interested in going to your first auction, check with local auctioneers to see if they offer such a service.

Always remember at an auction to feel free to ask questions if you don't understand something. Auctioneers and their staff want people to continue to come to their auctions, so they will do all they can to encourage repeat business. Ask a question of a member of the auctioneer's team and they will find the answer for you.

When people arrive at an auction, everyone is encouraged to read the rules printed on or displayed on posters, brochures or handouts. Again, ask questions if you don't understand a policy. Inspect the merchandise you're interested in, as most is auctioned on an "as is", " where is" basis. This means it is not guaranteed. When you buy an item, you become responsible for it. And, keep in mind that you'll pay for the items you purchase before you leave the auction, even if you aren't taking everything with you that day.

During the auction, auctioneers stand where they can be easily seen and often use a public address system so the bidders can clearly hear them. An item is selected, described and then bidding is opened.

In order to bid at an auction, you need to make contact with the auctioneer or the ring person. Ring personnel assist the auctioneer in hearing and acknowledging all bids and assures the bids are accurate. A ring person takes bids from the audience and then passes those on to the auctioneer. To bid, hold up your bid card, your hand or shout "yes." The auctioneer or ring person will make eye contact with you, take your bid and immediately turn and seek another bid. You can remove yourself from the process at any time by shaking your head "no" or saying "no" if the auctioneer or ring person turns your way. Should an auctioneer or ring person misinterpret any of your signals, simply report the mistake right away.

As increasing bids are received, the auctioneer's "chant" becomes a series of prices, with filler words to make the chant rhythmic.

When the final bid has been accepted, the buyer will identify himself/herself and the clerk will record the bid. When the buyer is ready to leave, the cashier will receive payment and release the merchandise. Today's modern auctioneer tape record the entire auction to benefit both the buyer and seller.

Newspaper ads and direct mail campaigns provide information on most auctions. They list date, time, location and often list many of the items for sale.

How to Buy at Auctions

The steps to buying real estate at auction include familiarizing yourself with the process, knowing the terms of the auction, doing your homework on the asset(s) you wish to buy, setting a limit and sticking to it, making sure you have the financial and emotional resources to buy on a cash “as-is” basis, and having a disposition plan in mind before you buy.

Familiarize Yourself
Do not rush in to the auction process. Take time to attend some auctions. Ask around about which firms are reputable. Familiarize yourself with auction terminology. An excellent source of auction terminology is the National Auctioneers Association website at

Go to different auctions. Deal with auction firms that are open and transparent about their business, who can earn your trust.

Do they use deceptive terminology such as a published “Minimum Bid” which is a fraction of the seller’s true acceptable price?
Is it easy to find and contact the principals or senior management from their website?
Do they post their sale prices after each auction? If not, why not?
Know the Terms
The terms should be posted on the website or in the sale brochure of the auction. Read and familiarize yourself with the specific terms of the auction you are interested in. Read the sales agreement that should be posted before the auction. Be prepared to live with the terms before you ever bid. The terms, although seemingly strict, are necessary to ensure that everyone is bidding from a level playing field.

Do Your Homework
We always urge our bidders, and many times require them, to certify that they have inspected the property before they bid. This should seem obvious, but the fact is when you buy a property that you have not inspected, or checked, such things as access issues, zoning, or utility availability, among other variables, you will be stuck with these problems if you are the winning bidder. Make sure you are aware of these issues, and that the price you bid reflects your comfort level with the property in its “as is” condition.

Set a Limit
We always encourage our bidders to set a limit on what they would pay based upon their knowledge and comfort level with the property, and to stick with it. Yet, in the heat of bidding, when everyone else seems to be enthusiastically bidding the price up above your limit, its sometimes very tempting to go ahead and bid higher. What will you do in this situation? It will come up, so try to be aware of what you may do if the price goes higher than you planned.

Make Sure You Have the Resources
Remember that properties at auction are typically not selling subject to financing. You should therefore have sufficient cash resources or lines of credit necessary to close the sale within the required time period (usually 30 days). Beyond the financial resources,you should make sure you have the emotional resources to be able to put a substantial earnest money deposit at risk, knowing that if you cannot close, you may lose it.

Have an Exit Strategy
Before you buy, you should have a clear investment strategy.

Are you buying the asset for a long hold, or do you plan to sell it in the near term? Know the local rental/ lease market.
Is the market headed up or down? Have a clear sense of the how long it takes to market a property conventionally, and what sort of price is attainable in an ordinary, “non-auction” marketing scenario.
Keeping these factors in mind will make your auction purchase a sensible one.


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Q: What is Tom's Auction?
A:Full Services Auction & Appraisal Company/ On-Line Auction Platform / Providing Local classifieds and forums - community moderated, and largely free.

Q: What can I find there?
A: Auctions, real estate, antiques & collectibles, a wide variety of goods, on-line store, services, local activities, advice - just about everything regarding auction & appraisals business.

Q: What is the origin of Tom's Auction?
A: An auction directory customized for you that was started by Tom Perry in 1983.

Q: Who runs Tom's Auction?
A: Tom Perry has been CEO since early 1980's.

Q: Is Tom's Auction a nonprofit?
A: No, Tom's Auction was founded as a for-profit company in 1983.

Q: How much traffic does Tom's Auction get?
A: on average More than 20 thousand page views per auction.

Q: How many people use Tom's Auction?
A: More than  in the US alone.

Q: What languages does Tom's Auction support?
A: Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish.

Q: What is a buyer's premium?

A: A buyer's premium is a stated percentage added to the winning bid to determine the total price paid by the buyer.

EXAMPLE: An item sells for $10.00, and the announced buyer’s premium is 10%, the total cost of item will come to $11.00 plus any applicable sales tax.

Q: How do I register for auctions?

A: LIVE: Registration is a process of identifying yourself as a potential buyer. You have the option of registering online for a Live Auction or registering at the Live Auction event. If you register online for a Live Auction, you will need to provide proof of identity and sign the forms at the Live Auction event. You will receive a bid card with a bid number which is used to identify yourself as the successful bidder. This process will save you time at the live Auction event since you do not have to complete the forms by hand.

If you register at the Live Auction event, you will need to complete the registration form, sign the standard Terms & Conditions for the auction then you will receive a bid card with a bid number which is used to identify yourself as the successful bidder.

ONLINE: Register on the Tom's Auctions website. You will then be prompted to agree with the Legal Terms and Conditions. If you agree, you will be prompted to enter your bidder information. Once completed, you will receive a permanent bidder number which can be used for all ONLINE Tom's Auction Auctions.

Q: Why do you require a credit card to register and bid for ONLINE Auctions?

A: We want to ensure that all bidders are valid, qualified, and have met the same conditions to be able to participate in our ONLINE auctions.

Q: What if I change my mind after bidding?

A: By bidding on an item you are creating a contract that is enforceable in a court of law. Tom's Auctions will pursue all legal remedies required to enforce this contract. The terms of usage prevent retraction of a bid once it has been SOLD. If you are unsure about an item, DO NOT BID.

Q: How does the Auto-Extend feature on an ONLINE auction work?

A: If an item receives a bid in the last two minutes, the ending time for that auction will automatically be extended by three minutes. Once three minutes have passed without any bidding, the item will close.

Q: How will I know if I am the high bidder for an ONLINE Auction?

A: The highest bidder will receive an email after the auction closes.

Q: How long do I have to pay for my items?

A: LIVE: All items must be paid for in full on the sale day.

ONLINE: All items must be paid in full within 24 hrs of winning the item.

Q: How long do I have to remove items that I have purchased?

A: LIVE: Removal timeframes will vary, but are generally 3 to 5 days after the close of the live auction. A removal schedule will be announced and posted on sale day.

ONLINE: The date by which all merchandise must be removed from the premises is posted on an auction-by-auction basis, on the specific auction page.

Q: How do I pay my bill?

A: We accept Cash, PayPal (online only), Cashier’s Checks, Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express.

Q: Do I pay sales tax?

A: Buyers are responsible for all applicable State, County, and City sales taxes at our auctions. If items are purchased for RESALE, please bring, fax, or email a copy of your Tax Exempt Certificate to the sale.

Q: Shipping?

A: Yes! SAM Auctions does offer shipping at an additional cost.

Q: How do I sign up for auction notifications?

A: You can simply sign up by clicking our tab labeled Auction Alerts (and instantly start receiving email alerts for all our auctions).

Q: Can I buy equipment before the auction?

A: Once a piece is listed as ‘for sale at auction’ we are unable to pre-sell the item.

Q: Can I preview items before I bid?

A: Yes. Each auction will have information regarding where the items are located and a scheduled preview time.

Q: Will there be anyone onsite to watch over my purchase?

A: We make every effort to protect your purchase, but ultimately once the auctioneer has SOLD the item, it becomes the sole responsibility of the highest bidder. We suggest you bring a second person with you on auction day to protect your property.

Q: Can I leave an Absentee Bid at your LIVE auction?

A: YES. We accept all absentee bids at our live auctions. Please contact us for more information.

Q: Can you help me sell my equipment?

A: We are a full service company that will make every effort to help you sell your equipment. Our experts will consult with you to assess the value of the assets and determine which of our three methods will convert your asset into cash promptly and with greatest success: Online Auction - Live Auction - Premier Sale.

Q: Do you pay for sales leads?

A: Yes. Please contact us for more information.