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A live auction is a dynamic event where items or services are sold to the highest bidder in real-time. Unlike silent auctions or online auctions, live auctions are interactive and often conducted by an auctioneer who calls out the bids and keeps the energy high. Participants bid against one another openly, with each bid higher than the last. The excitement in the room can be palpable as bidders compete for the items they desire. According to the National Auctioneers Association, live auctions are not only about buying and selling but also about the experience, which can be entertaining and competitive.
During a live auction, the auctioneer plays a crucial role in driving the sale and engaging the audience. They provide descriptions and provenance for the items, adding to their perceived value. The auctioneer's chant—a rhythmic repetition of numbers and filler words—creates a sense of urgency that encourages higher bids. Statistically, the live auction industry is significant, contributing billions to the economy annually. For instance, in 2018, the art auction market alone reached a global total of over $29 billion, as reported by Art Basel and UBS. Live auctions remain a cornerstone of the auction world, offering a unique blend of commerce and entertainment.
A live auction is a method of selling goods wherein bidders come to an auction house or other set location. The goods are described and listed and an auctioneer solicits bids, or offers, for each item. The highest bidder wins the auction.
Live auctions can be used to sell a wide variety of goods. Farm and livestock auctions are common, in which animals of varying types and qualities are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Estate auctions and art auctions are also common auctions, since these items are specialized items and sometimes difficult to value and a live auction can be an excellent way of attracting interested buyers.
Numerous other goods and items are also sold be sold at a live auction. When a home goes into foreclosure, for example, it can be sold at an auction. Bankruptcy auctions, estate auctions, and police auctions are other common examples of auctions.
At a live auction, goods are often organized into lot numbers. Each lot may contain one item — such as one house, one car, one cow, or one piece of art. Lots can also contain multiple items, such as an auction for 20 office chairs or for 20 pigs. People who attend a live auction are often given a catalog containing a list and explanation of the lots being sold at the auction. This catalog may contain descriptions of the items being sold, such as a list of the items' contents, its condition, or even an appraised value for the item.
Bidding then begins on items. The auctioneer will call each lot number one by one. Bidders are often given a paddle to hold up to signify their interest in bidding. The auctioneer will usually start the item at the lowest bid, and then customers will raise their paddles to bid an item up.
For example, if an artist is selling a piece of art and wants to get a minimum of $100 US Dollars (USD) for the item, the auctioneer will begin the bidding at $100 USD. If no one bids $100 USD or more, the item will not sell. If a person bids $100 USD, then bidding begins on the item.
The auctioneer will announce the current highest bid and give other bidders a change to raise the price as high as they are willing to pay. This bidding can continue on until no one wants to bid higher than the current highest bid. The item is then sold to the bidder with the current highest bid.