All About No Closing Cost Home Mortgages

Have you seen any of those banners on the Internet, “No Closing Cost” home mortgages? Do you question whether or not they too good to be true? Believe it or not, sometimes they are true. I did one of these a few years back. Usually the deal is that you need to be refinancing your existing home mortgage, so your home mortgage company can roll the costs of the loan into your new home mortgage.

Typically you can qualify for this type of arrangement without closing costs when you are refinancing for less than your house is worth. Bottom line, the lender wants to make sure that there’s some equity in the property, in order to minimize their risk. When the home mortgage company completes this type of loan, they actually get to increase the amount of the loan by a little, which are the closing costs that you aren’t paying. So technically you have closing costs with this type of loan, money just isn’t coming out of your pocket at closing.

Alternatively, your home mortgage company may mean that they are waiving their fees for the closing. Although this would save you money, you still have to pay the appraiser, the closer, etc. So, my recommendation is it’s best to ask if you will have to bring money to the closing for anything.

If you are purchasing a home, a “No Closing Cost” home mortgage may mean something different. It may mean that your home mortgage company waives their fees, but you still have to pay the appraiser, the lawyer, the home mortgage broker. This may mean that you have to bring a few thousand dollars or more to the closing.

These days, it really is not enough to rely on the good faith estimate for your home mortgage. Once you get it, call an attorney who handles home closings. Have the attorney figure their estimate for closing costs. Unless you’re practiced at reading the good faith estimate, you may find that the difference between this estimate and what you actually pay at closing may be $3,000 or more. I have experienced this at closing mostly because of the timing of the home closing. If the closing is at or near the beginning of the month, the prepaids (interest, insurance and taxes) may be much more than if closing were completed at the end of the month.

There are some “No Closing Cost” home mortgages that have everything rolled into them. With these mortgages, the only money you will need is for owner’s title insurance. All lenders require you to buy an insurance policy called Title Insurance for them. That means that if someone sues you claiming that the property is really theirs, the insurance company will have to pay. This policy really just protects the lender. To protect yourself, you need owner’s title insurance. It is very cheap, and now often comes with some identity theft protection. I recommend that you ask about it. Most of the time it cost less than the carpet in one room to protect your investment.

Technically for either definition, the closing isn’t really free. Even if you aren’t paying the home mortgage company, there will always be some other people to be paid. Question is, do you want to pay now or later. In my experience, the closing costs are so little in comparison to a home mortgage that it can make sense to roll them into a home mortgage. So ask if this is possible.

Thanks to advances in technology and changes to banking laws, the cost to get a home mortgage is dropping. Eventually, rates will rise and No Closing Cost home mortgages will go the way of 0% financing for car loans. Take advantage of the great deals while they are around.

Small Business Marketing Plan – Increase Your Business Profit Without Breaking Your Marketing Budget

Most small business owners fail when it comes to their small business marketing plans. They’ve got excellent technical skills in their line of work, but that just doesn’t translate to having effective marketing skills.

As a result, profitability of many small businesses has been declining over the years. Ever increasing competition is making it more challenging in many ways. For those businesses that aren’t losing money, most are not producing the profit they could be if they knew how to market themselves properly.

These business owners usually just copy what they see other businesses doing, or they follow the advice of some media sales person. The problem is they copy the wrong types of businesses, and the media sales people typically only know as much about effective marketing as the business owner does.

Without the right kind of marketing system in place, the success of any business is by pure chance. To help remedy this situation, below are seven things a small business can do to increase profits while spending less on marketing.

1. Use the power of free stuff

Everyone likes getting free stuff and you can use that to your advantage. If your business lends itself to giving away free samples of your product, do that. It helps get people hooked on it. Business profits have boomed on this marketing model.

As Chris Anderson author of the book titled, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” says, “You can make make money giving things away.” In his book he talks about how businesses are giving away products and services they used to charge for, and in return, a percentage of their customers are buying something else. As a result, they are making more money than ever.

When you give something away, you often activate a universal law called the “Law of Reciprocity.” It says that when people get something free, they feel obligated to do something for you. Obviously it doesn’t work every time, but it does work enough of the time.

But there is another way to give away free stuff that can greatly benefit your business. When you do it right you get something very valuable in return: customer contact info…which leads us to the next tip.

2. Start capturing customer contact info and use it

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is not tapping their current customer base. They let customers visit their business (online or offline) all day long without ever trying to capture their contact info so they can continue to market products or services to them.

You likely know how expensive it can be to get a new customer. But you can market to your current customers for little or no cost. Capturing and using customer contact info can mean the difference between a profitable business and one that barely gets by.

Your business has more customer value in it than a customer can possibly digest in a short visit so if you aren’t continually marketing to your customers, you are throwing money away!

You can make customer contact capture easier simply by using the power of free from tip number one. Simply start a monthly drawing to give away something free and print some registration slips visitors can fill out. Also have people register online on your website.

Tell customers they only have to register once for all drawings and you will contact them monthly via email to let them know who won. Of course you will always include an offer for a product or service!

What do you give away? Anything with a perceived value makes a great free item. Free items do not have to be expensive. Buy something on sale at WalMart or at eBay and offer it. You can also offer free informational reports that help people solve their problems. People are always looking for ways to solve problems they are having.

Of course, once you capture this information you have to do something with it. If you’re too busy to take on any more work, then the next tip will help you out.

3. Use automated tools to keep in touch with customers

Once you have a customer list, I recommend you send a minimum of 25 “messages” a year to it. A message could be an email, direct mail piece, fax, or phone call.

If you don’t use an automated tool to do the work for you, you’ll likely be too busy to get the job done. When you automate, your messages go out regardless of how busy you get (the more messages that go out, the busier you’ll get).

One tool you can use is an email autoresponder, which is a web-based system that sends out emails when someone signs up. It sends out emails at intervals you set up. You can also set it up to send an email on a specific day, such as a holiday.

The great thing about an autoresponder tool is that you enter your messages in the autoresponder one time, then it automatically sends emails to your list. You can also broadcast messages any time you want.

Using this tool, keeping in touch with your customers is easy and it will help keep the competition from creeping in and stealing your customers because they’ve forgotten about you and the services you provide.

4. Stop marketing like you’re a big business.

Marketing a small business like it’s a big business is something almost every small business owner does. They just copy the marketing they see being done at large companies with big brands. This kind of marketing is called “brand identity,” “brand building,” or “image” marketing.

This is a HUGE waste of advertising money for a small business. You simply don’t have the resources you need to support a successful branding campaign.

Brand advertising typically has no “call to action,” (they don’t ask you to do anything). They just give you features of the product or service, or they entertain you without asking you to do anything.

Brand advertising is usually benefit free. The viewer has to determine if there is a benefit to them. It may contain a list of features and the user will have to assign their own benefit to each feature. It is usually focused on the product or provider of the product instead if the customer.

A successful marketing campaign for a small business is created around direct response marketing techniques.

5. Use old fashioned direct response techniques in new ways

The kind of marketing plan that works for a small business is direct response marketing. It doesn’t require a huge marketing budget to use effectively. It can be used for all types of products and services.

And the good news is that you don’t even have to hire an advertising agency to do it since it doesn’t require creativity. All you have to do is learn the basic structure of direct response marketing and you can easily increase the sales your business makes.

Direct response sales copy always asks the reader or viewer to take some sort of action i.e. “Call in the next 5 minutes, and we’ll include a free set of Ginzu steak knives!”.

It may ask for the sale directly if a full “sales presentation” was done (one-step advertising), or it may ask them to request more information (two-step advertising). It will at a minimum, ask the reader to take some form of “traceable” action so you know if it is working or not.

There should always be a headline for written advertisements! Never put your company logo at the top of a direct response advertisement. That’s brand advertising.

Whenever you create an advertisement in any form always look at them from the customer point of view. Look it and ask “Who gives a crap?” about everything in it. Do you think the customer cares about your logo. No! They care about what you can do for them. Put in benefits and not features. Let the customer know what’s in it for them. A successful direct response ad for a small business includes several things:

An offer to buy something
Sufficient information for the consumer to make a decision to act now (or directions on how to get more info)
An explicit “call to action” sooner rather than later
A clear way to respond such as a telephone number or web page
A means of tracking the response.
Direct response advertising is not just used for mail campaigns. You use it in all forms of media: print, web, mail, and broadcast. Take a look at all the advertising you are currently doing no matter where it is and start making the change now.

6. Use the Internet to advertise for free

Even though websites as we know them have existed since around the early 90s, only 49%* of small businesses currently have a website *9/08, Barlow Research. It’s surprising how many businesses do not understand how powerful this marketing tool is. If you don’t have a website, get one because there is no better source of free advertising!

The Internet has hundreds of “Web 2.0″ websites where you post “content” for free. The content can be text, videos, or audios you create and it can lead people to your business. Plus, it helps establish you as an expert in your field.

EzineArticles.com is one such place you can post content. There was no charge to post this article. All I had to do is write it, post it, and then you found it.

You can put links in the “author resource” section, to drive traffic to a page on your website. The articles you post in EzineArticles can rank extremely well in Google search results with a little help from you.

You also want to get your business listed in places like Google Local if you do local business. Once again this is absolutely free.

Once you learn how to do use the Internet for promotion you’ll have a head start on the future of advertising and you get customers for free!

7. Outsource routine marketing tasks so you can work on the growing your business

One of the biggest problems small business owners have is that they get so consumed by working IN their business, they don’t have time to work ON their business. So no growth can occur.

When it comes to marketing yourself on the Internet, there are ways to use “virtual assistants” to do most of the work for you. A virtual assistant is someone you hire on a full or part-time basis who does the work for you.

But a virtual assistant is not a direct employee so you don’t provide benefits or have the normal hassles of an employee. They are usually located somewhere in the world that has low-cost wages so they are very affordable. That’s the beauty of the Internet and the communication it provides.

Virtual assistants aren’t just confined to small business marketing plan tasks though. They can do almost anything for you: reservations, schedule appointments, answer phones, customer service, send flowers, buy a present for your spouse, find someone to fix your car, website development, accounting, software development, writing, graphics, or anything you need.

There are lots of resources on the Internet that can help you find a virtual assistant.

Create Your Small Business Marketing Plan Now!

Use these seven marketing tips to start building your small business marketing plan right now. If you procrastinate, your busy life will get in the way of business growth. Even if you only take a little of the advice you’ve been given, you’ll find it can have a big impact on the profitability of your business.

The Finer Points of Internet Auctions

WHAT IS A PENNY AUCTION?

Penny auctions have exploded in popularity with the massive growth of the internet. However, few people know the true origins of penny auctions.Beginnings actually stretch back to the Great Depression. Those were hard times for everyone, but even harder for farmers. Farmers struggled to bring in steady income because of droughts and crops not selling as well as they had previously. As a result, the banks would foreclose on the farmers who couldn’t keep up with their mortgage payments.

The banks weren’t satisfied with just repossessing the house, they wanted to raise as much capital as possible, so they resorted to selling off the possessions of the owners of the repossessed houses. There was not much the farmers could do about it so they began bidding ridiculously low prices, pennies, on the items while threatening others who dared to bid higher than a few pennies.

The auctions of today hardly resemble their tremulous beginnings. Being part of a penny auction today is exhilarating, fun, and addictive. It combines the selling format of auctioning with a little bit of chance factored in.Auctions are a game of strategy but also a game of luck.

The premise behind penny auctions is giving people the chance to win an item at a drastically reduced price.Auctions make that possible by spreading out the cost of the product among multiple bidders. In order for a person to take part in an auction, they must pay a set price for each bid. For example, if a person wanted to bid on a fifty dollar Amazon gift card then he would spend a dollar for each time a bid placed. If he ended up winning the gift card, then he would only have spent a few dollars for a fifty dollar gift card. Usually penny auctions sell bids in packages.

HOW PENNY AUCTIONS WORK!

The main foundation of penny auctions is the pay-per-bid format. It is the key that allows bidders to win items at the fraction of their retail value and allows the auction owners to keep their site profitable. Most y auction sites run on the same premise: people pay a set amount for each bid, whenever a person places a bid within the closing seconds of the auction time will be added, the last person left with a unique bid after the clocks runs out will win the item. There are a large variety of items that can be won, but they tend to be popular electronics or gift cards to popular stores.

There are two types of auctions: lowest unique bid auction and highest unique bid auction. Lowest unique auction sounds confusing but it is actually quite simple. A unique bid is when only one person has a bid at a certain price. Bids usually start at one penny, a bidder can then place a bid at two pennies. Until another bidder places a higher bid, the most recent bidder will be the lowest unique bid because that was the only bid at two cents and nobody bid higher. However, penny auctions generally don’t stop at one penny. It is not uncommon to find auctions that end up at a couple hundred dollars based on the popularity of the item being auctioned. However, the same principles apply for those auctions. Highest unique bid auctions follow the more traditional auction format such as eBay. The person with the highest bid at the end of the auction wins the item.

Auction site owners turn a profit by selling bids. Say twenty people are bidding on a ten dollar gift card at one dollar per bid, at the end of the auction if there were twenty bids placed in total then the site owner would have made twenty dollars with a ten dollar profit.Auctions do seem like a win-win situation:The site owner makes money while the bidder gets an item for dirt cheap. However, not everyone wins in penny auctions. The people who paid one dollar each bid but left with nothing to show for their investments will not be so happy.

HOW TO WIN!

Penny auction has a lot of chance mixed into it, but one can incorporate strategy that will help raise the chances of winning. Playing smart can make all the difference between gambling and auctioning.

The first crucial tip to winning penny auctions is to know how to manage your bids. Your goal should be to win as much as possible without spending a ton of money buying bids. Managing your bids means that you should already know how much you are willing to risk in order to win an item. The amount of capital you are willing to risk will determine how many bids you can use. Once you know how many bids you have to spend on an item, then you will be better able to manage how and when you place a bid. That will keep you from blowing away all of your bids in the first few seconds of the auction.

The next tip is to practice time management. When fighting in the trenches of penny auctions, you have two enemies: other bidders and time. Knowing when to bid is a must if you want to have success. Placing a bid when there is a lot of time left on the clock is never a good idea. You have to remember that the key to winning a penny auction is being the last one standing when the clock runs out and that each bid increases the amount of time left. It would be a good practice to wait until the last few minutes of the auction before you begin to bid.

The final tip for successful auctioning is to keep your emotions under control.Auctions have a lot of similarities to gambling, and just like gambling, your spending can get out of control. If you keep your emotions level, it will keep you from making rash decisions and blowing loads of cash. Keep your mind clear so that you can gage the behavior of the other bidders and outsmart them.

HOW TO AVOID SCAM SITES!

Penny auctions are a great addition to the web whether you want to win an item that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to afford or if you simply enjoy the thrill that comes with bidding in auctions. Unfortunately, scam sites have tarnished the reputation of the legitimate penny auction sites. However, there are ways that you can protect yourself from scamers and enjoy your auctioning without having to worry about losing your money due to dishonesty.

Checking the reputation of the auction site before you start spending your hard earned money is always a good idea. Chances are other people have tried the site before you and some of them have left reviews. The reviews are your way to gage whether a auction site is trustworthy or not. If a site is getting overwhelmingly negative reviews, then that is a clear indication that you should steer your business elsewhere.

Another tool you can use to protect yourself is checking the Alexia ranks of the auction sites. Alexia rank will give a solid view of how much traffic the auction is getting. If you see a huge difference in the amount of traffic Alexia is projecting and the amount of active bidders on the site, then warning signals should be ringing in your head. Some auction sites have been known to set up robots that automatically bid on projects in order to keep the auction going and inflate the price. That is known as shill bidding. You can sniff out those sites by comparing the traffic the site should be getting to the amount of users using this site.

CONCLUSION!

New legislation may come out later down the road that will officially make penny auctions gambling, but until then, it is a fun, exciting auction that allows one to win the item they’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford.Auctions are also quite lucrative for the site owners because of the pay-per-bid strategy they’ve incorporated. Penny auctions had humble beginnings with farmers who just wanted to get back at the banks who kicked them out of their house. More recently, auctions have enjoyed an explosion in popularity with the rise of the internet.

There are two main formats fora auctions, lowest and highest unique auction, however they both run on the same premise where the last unique bid wins the item. Winning a penny auction will require a certain amount of mental tactic and a bit of luck. However, you can increase your odds of winning by practicing certain techniques such as managing your bids wisely, learning how to work with the time, and keeping a level head and your emotions under control. When you combine those three strategies to your bidding plan, you will find that you win a lot more often.

It is important that you do your due diligence to protect yourself when participating in auctions. Not every auction is run by honest and trustworthy people. There are people out there who just want to take your money. You can protect yourself by ensuring that you only bid on sites that already have a very positive reputation from real users.

How to Find Great Live Auctions for Resale Items

Hi, my name is Walt. I’m an auctioneer with 25 years of experience in the auction business and licensed in the state of MA. I own Quick Auction Service, a company that specializes in building and running custom auctions, I’m also the webmaster of my own site and have been on eBay for 8 years. Besides eBay, the types of auctions I run most frequently are antiques and on-site estate auctions, although I’ve run everything from business overstock auctions to charity & special event auctions.

I enjoy sharing my knowledge and stories of the auction business. My goal for article is to help folks get the absolute most out of their auction experience.

Whether your fresh out of the package or a seasoned dealer I think I can offer something in this article to help you with your auciton adventures.

There may be as many reasons to attend auctions as there are types of auctions to attend. Maybe you want to attend an auction to buy items for re-sale on eBay, or some other market. Maybe you want to furnish your home with wonderful antiques, or you want to furnish your home as inexpensively without sacrificing quality.Some folks are just looking for a fun night out. With a little perseverance all these things are possible.

There are antiques and estate auctions, auto auctions, overstock auctions, absolute and no reserve auctions, real estate auctions, specialty auctions where only one genre of items are sold, tailgate auctions, live auctions, online auctions, sealed bid auctions, silent auctions, charity and fund raising auctions and many more.

Can you really buy for pennies on the dollar at an auction? You bet! Many times I’ve seen folks buy and re-sell at the same auction on the same night for a good profit, although be advised, this should only be done after the auction is over.

There are a lot of ways to find an auction, but here are some tips on how to find and attend the best ones.

Visit the genre of shops in the area that apply to the type of auction you want to attend. IE: If your looking for a good antique auction to attend, stop in the local antiques shops and ask for what there are for good auctions in the area. Sounds obvious right? But listen to what they don’t say as well as what they do say. Oftentimes when a dealer speaks poorly about an auction he or she attends, it may be likely that they are trying to keep a good thing secret. Think for a moment, why would a dealer keep attending a lousy auction?

Newspaper ads: I personally like to find ads in the classified ad section rather than flashy display ads. Flashy ads are usually indicative of an auction that will be high priced, may have reserves, (a set price on an item), and usually an enormous crowd. While any auction can be profitable to attend, it is usually best to steer clear of the glitzy ones, at least for the beginner.

Here’s the minimum you want to find out before you go. If there is a phone number in the ad, call and ask for the terms of the sale. What forms of payment do they accept? Is it an absolute auction? An absolute auction is one that has no minimum or reserve bids on items. These are the best auctions to attend! Is there a buyers premium? A buyers premium is like a tax that everyone who makes purchases at that auction must pay above the winning bid price. Most auctions these days do charge a buyers premium, 10% is not unreasonable but I feel much more than that is greedy, and the auctioneer that charges over 10% is counting on most bidders not doing the extra math as the bids quicken in pace.

A fair auction will have ample time to inspect the merchandise, usually at least 2 or 3 hours. Find out when inspection starts and make sure to attend! Never attend an auction if you can’t make the inspection, not unless your prepared to gamble. Most auctioneers sell at a rate of about 100 items per hour, which is why they sell “as is”. They simply don’t have the time to give a detailed description of all the items. Since almost all items at auction are sold AS IS, there are sure to be some damaged, refinished, fake and incomplete items at any given auction. Beware of any auctions that offer very little or no inspection time.

Good auctions will usually have 150 to 400 lots. A lot may be one item or a group of items. The exception to this are specialty auctions, auto auctions, real estate auctions etc.

When you attend your first sale, take note of the 1/2 dozen or so dealers that buy the most often. See if you can find out about other area auctions they attend.

When you do find an excellent auction, attend it as often as possible. By frequenting good sales, you help increase the bottom line of that business. It’s difficult for many auctioneers to keep the quality of merchandise consistent, so good attendance certainly helps. And when an auctioneer gets to know you as a buyer, he/she will go out of the way to accommodate you, to keep you coming back.

Hiring An Auction Company

Estimating your assets value:

Typically, one of the first questions a business owner will ask me is, “how much will the assets bring at an auction”. After taking the time to review the assets, the auctioneer should give the client a conservative estimate of the sale based upon his experience and the current market trends. It is important that the company give realistic expectations so the seller can make informed decisions based on their best interest.

Compensation and Expenses:

Is the company you are considering working for you or against you? The agreement you decide may determine this.

A business owner should carefully consider how the auction company is compensated. The most common commission structures include: straight commission, outright purchase of assets, guaranteed base with a split above to both auctioneer and seller, guaranteed base with anything above going to auctioneer or a flat fee structure.

In a straight commission structure, the company is paid an agreed upon percentage of the total sale.

In an outright purchase agreement, the auctioneer simply becomes your end buyer. The company purchases your assets and relocates them. While this can be an option in some unique situations, keep in mind that they will want to purchase your assets at a very reduced price to make a profit at a later date.

In a minimum base guarantee, the auction company guarantees the seller that the auction will generate a minimum amount of sales. Anything above that amount either goes to the auction company or split with the seller. While a seller might feel more comfortable doing an auction knowing that he is guaranteed a minimum amount for his sale, keep in mind that it is the best interest of the auction company to secure a minimum base price as low as possible in order reduce their financial liability to the seller and secure higher compensation for the sale.

In a flat fee structure, the auctioneer agrees to show up for the sale and call the auction. There is no incentive for the auctioneer to get the best prices for your assets. The auction company is compensated regardless of the outcome of your sale.

What is the best option for business owners? In my experience, an agreed upon straight commission structure. This puts the responsibility on the auction company to offer the best outcome for everyone involved. There is an incentive for the auction company to work hard for both parties, set up and run a professional sale, get the highest bid and sell every item on the inventory. Successful auctions translate to a higher bottom line for both the seller and the auction company.

Auction Expenses:

In most auction agreements the expenses to conduct an auction are passed to the seller. If the auction company pays for the expenses, it is simply absorbed in higher commission rates.

All expenses should be agreed upon in advance in a written contract. Typical expenses will include the costs of advertising, labor, legal fees, travel, equipment rentals, security, postage and printing. A reputable auction company will be able to estimate all expenses based upon their experience in previous auctions. An agreement should be actual costs charged as expenses, not an estimated amount.

Advertising is typically the highest cost in conducting an auction. The auction company needs to set up an advertising campaign that will promote the sale to its best advantage and not overspend to simply advertise the auction company.

Once the auction is complete, the auction company should provide a complete breakdown of all expenses to the seller, including copies of receipts within the auction summary report.

Buyer’s Premium:

What is a buyer’s premium? If you attend auctions regularly, you are very familiar with this term. The auction company charges a fee to the buyer when they buy an item at auction.

The buyer’s premium has been around since the 1980′s and is standard auction practice. It was first used by auction houses to help offset costs of running brick and mortar permanent auction facilities. Since then, it has spread to all aspects of the auction industry. It is prominent in online auctions and allows auction companies to cover added expenses incurred from online sales.

It is the responsibility of the auction company to provide clear disclosure of the buyer’s premium to both the buyers and the sellers. Those not familiar with auctions are often taken back by the buyer’s premium. They looked upon it as an under handed way for the auction company to make more money. Reputable auction companies will provide full disclosure within the auction contract, advertisement and bidder registration.

Typically, an auction company will charge online buyers a higher buyer’s premium percentage than those attending an auction in person. Extra fees are incurred with online bidding and are charged accordingly to online buyers. This provides the seller a level playing field for both online buyers and those attending the auction in person. Without the buyer’s premium, there is no way to do this.

Pre-Sales:

We’ve all been there. We’re looking forward to attending an auction only to find that some items were sold prior to the auction date.

As an auctioneer with over thirty-six years of experience, I can honestly state that pre-sales will hurt an auction. When a company decides to liquidate their assets, it is easy to sell off high-end pieces of equipment through online sources, equipment vendors or to other businesses. The seller receives instant cash and avoids paying a commission to an auction company.

Auctioneer’s find themselves appearing to acting in a self-serving capacity when potential clients say they are planning to sell off parts of their inventory prior to an auction. It’s hard not to consider the auctioneer’s commission when they warn you not to pre-sell anything. Yes, the auctioneer wants to earn a commission on those sales but it is more important that the auctioneer protect the sale from potential negative backlash that comes from pre-selling. The buying public knows when an auction has been “cherry picked” prior to the sale and it reflects in their bidding. It becomes a sale of “leftovers” and that impacts prices.

A buyer who purchases prior to the auction usually does not attend the sale. They already bought equipment at a good price with no competition. If they do attend the auction, they tend to let others know of their great pre-sale purchases which again, impacts prices and the overall excitement of the sale.

It is important to understand that auctions work best with a complete inventory. You want competition on your higher end equipment. The easy to sell items make it possible to gain respectable prices for hard to sell items.

When a business owner decides to liquidate their equipment assets, there is only one opportunity to do it right. Hiring a reputable auction company will assist you with a professional, orderly and timely liquidation.

Five Tips for Selling at Live Auctions

Ah, the old-fashioned country auction! The idea of a country auction conjures up certain images for people. The image of a fast-talking auctioneer offering up an antique table or chair is a popular example.

People who are buying household goods or collectibles are looking to get their items at the lowest price possible. However, the people who are selling their items at auction are hoping for the highest price!

Unless a person is in the business of buying and selling antiques or other items, not a lot of thought goes into how goods are prepared for sale via the auction process. However, if you are one of the growing number of people using auction venues to sell your collectibles or other inventory, there are a few things to learn first about how to sell at auction before you bring a truckload of stuff over to the next event.

Tip 1: Make sure the things you want to sell are a good “fit” for the auction house you’ll be using.

Never bring a load to an auction house without actually having been to one of the previous auctions. It’s important to get a feel for the type of goods that the house sells. For example, at one very rural country auction it was common for the owners to sell live chickens, pots and pans, car parts, and farm equipment.

After close investigation, this would not be the right venue for selling your daughter’s “Hello Kitty” collection. On the other hand, the spare John Deere parts that you bought at last week’s yard sale might be just the right thing for the buying crowd at this auction.

Tip 2: Be sure you clearly understand the terms and policies of the auction house.

Visit with the auctioneer ahead of time. Call to find out what the best days and times are to visit. One of the worst possible times to drop in for an informational visit with an auctioneer is the day of the auction. Call ahead and ask. While you’re at it, find out what are the best days and times to drop your stuff off.

Once you have a little time with the auctioneer, you’ll be able to find out what type of commission he or she takes from consigners (which is you), and what type of paperwork might be needed. Some auction houses send out Form 1099 tax forms at the end of the year. An auctioneer may need to see your identification and have you fill out a W-9. Be prepared.

Find out what happens to your items if they don’t sell. For example, some auctioneers may have a minimum starting bid. If, for some reason, one of your items does not sell, it may be grouped with another one of your pieces. Know the auctioneer’s strategy beforehand so that you aren’t surprised on pay day.

Tip 3: Make sure the auctioneer knows what you’re selling.

It might be perfectly obvious to you that the signed print you are consigning is a rare and valuable piece of art. However, the auctioneer may not know this particular artist. Make a note of anything particularly special about your items, and leave the note with the piece. Be sure to tell the auctioneer about it as well. He or she might determine that this is something to highlight on the company website or in the newspaper listing.

Tip 4: Present your items neatly.

No one likes to have to dig through a box full of grimy and greasy car parts to see what treasures might be in there. Separate the parts and lay them out on a flat, or use more than one box to de-clutter the lot.

There is no need to buy fancy display boxes. It’s easy enough to go to the local convenience store or supermarket and ask if you can have the emptied boxes or flats that they are discarding.

While it’s good to present clean items, take care not to ruin the value of anything by over cleaning. For example, if you find some old cast iron cookware, clean the obvious dirt and grime, but don’t scrub it to its original finish. For many people, this ruins the value of the item. So, clean and tidy and organized is the key here.

Tip 5: Don’t complain to the auctioneer if your stuff doesn’t sell for as much as you’d like.

The phrase to remember here is, “You win some; you lose some.” That’s just the way it is. There are some days where an auction house is loaded with people who all seem to want what you’re selling. There will be other days where the crowd is sparse, and the bidding is simply not competitive.

Remember that it’s in the auctioneer’s best interest to sell your things for the highest possible hammer price. But sometimes, it’s just not going to be a stellar sale. The auctioneer is only human, and is also disappointed if a sale doesn’t go as well as planned.

If you notice that every time you bring a bunch of goods to sell that you’re not realizing as much as you think you honestly should, try another auction venue and compare apples to apples. That is, bring the same types of items to the new auctioneer and compare the results.

Unless the auctioneer is particularly disagreeable or inconsiderate to you or buyers, there is no reason to confront him or her about a sale. If you find you just don’t care for an auctioneer’s style or methods, find another one. Believe me, there are plenty of them out there!

The primary thing to remember as you learn how to sell at auction is that the business is unpredictable at best. You will have good days, some not-so-good days, some great days. The more you sell, the more experience you will gain, and the more enjoyable the business will be.

Real Estate Auctions – The New Land Rush

On a sunny afternoon in Florida, an energetic crowd gathers on the lawn of a high end luxury estate. A loud and eager banter between an auctioneer, a group of bidders and bidder assistants fills the air. For several minutes the auctioneer asks for the next highest bid and the bidders respond. Suddenly the bidders grow silent. The high bidder holds his breath in anticipation of winning the auction. The auctioneer calls for one more bid. In a loud clear voice which rolls over the audience he says, “Fair warning, last chance” the auctioneer pauses, “SOLD!” And in less than 10 minutes another multimillion dollar estate has changed owners.

Successful real estate auctions like the one above are happening all over North America and the Caribbean. Recently real estate auctions have been on the rise, the increase in popularity is partly driven by growing inventories and fading buyer confidence. Properties that were selling in weeks using traditional methods are now languishing on the market unable to attract buyers even as seller’s lower prices. Many say the real estate boom is over but savvy buyers and sellers are profiting from real estate auctions.

Real Estate Auctions Work in Up or Down Markets.

Regardless of trends or market cycles, real estate auctions provide an open and transparent process for buyers and sellers. Properly conducted real estate auctions attract ready and willing buyers and motivate them to act now.

The auction method removes the “wait and see” attitude which serves to further depress real estate values. Buyers are always concerned about overpaying. Buyers gain confidence with their purchases at real estate auctions because they can see what others are willing to pay.

When market demand is high and inventories low, real estate auctions can deliver selling prices well above what a willing seller would have accepted in a negotiated private treaty sale. In good selling climates many property owners using traditional real estate methods; negotiating with one buyer at a time, leave thousands of dollars of equity on the table. During up markets real estate auctions are the best way to establish top market price.

Evaluating Your Real Estate for Auction

Not every property or seller for that matter makes a good candidate for auction. First of all sellers must be ready to sell now and for the current market value. Also a real estate auction will not fix problems caused by a downturn in market value of your property, if you owe more than a willing buyer will pay, be prepared to come to closing with your check book.

Properties that do well in real estate auctions have a high uniqueness factor. Ask your self, “What makes my property different from most others?” Maybe you own a resort property or high end luxury home, commercial properties and land do very well at auction. Real estate auctions thrive on uniqueness. If your property is like everyone else’s, the best thing you can do is offer the most competitive price.

Most importantly sellers must be reasonable about setting a minimum bid. A seller must look at the lowest, most current comps and price below that to generate the interest and urgency necessary for a successful real estate auction. Once the auction begins and qualified bidders start competing against one another you can watch the selling price increase.

Locate a Qualified Real Estate Auctioneer

Start by checking with the National Auctioneers Association, the best real estate auctioneers belong to this organization. These real estate auctioneers are well trained and adhere to a standard of practice and a code of ethics. Many attend the annual International Auctioneers Conference where the latest techniques and innovations in the real estate auction industry are presented.

Find out if the company you are interviewing is a full time real estate auction firm. Many real estate agents are getting auction licenses yet have no experience with the auction method of marketing. Conducting a successful real estate auction is nothing like (private treaty) traditional real estate sales. Go with a real estate auction pro.

You’re probably better of with an auction house that specializes in real estate auctions. There are many qualified auctioneers who have generations of experience selling personal property; furniture, dishes, lawn equipment and the occasional rare painting. Selling real estate at auction is a complex matter that should only be attempted by full time experienced real estate auction professionals.

Commissions and fees may vary, sellers must pay all marketing expenses up front and buyers typically pay 10% of the sales price to the auctioneer of which a share goes to participating real estate agents.

Types of Real Estate Auctions

Auctions are effective because they create a seller’s market. Professionally conducted real estate auctions create urgency, a reason to buy today and competition for the property. Terms and conditions of sale are established ahead of the auction. Real estate auctions will follow one of these three approaches:

Absolute Auction

The property is sold to the highest bidder regardless of price- using this process often returns the highest sale price.

Minimum Bid Auction

Seller agrees to sell at or above a published minimum bid price – this method is useful for internet auctions.

Seller Confirmation or Reserve Auction

With a reserve auction, the seller “reserves” the right to accept or decline any bids usually within 48 hours of the auction. Reserve auctions are used when there is a lien on the property from a lender or a court ordered sale with a minimum selling price.

Differences in the Types of Auctions That Take Place Around the World

Auctions are those events where properties or goods are sold to the highest bidder. Auctions are mostly public events, where bidders make a series of bids and purchase a particular item for a high price. During auctions, bidders decide the price of an item rather than the seller. It depends on bidders to decide the amount they would want to pay for a specific item. During an auction, a bid is a proof of a legal binding. Bidders agree to pay the amount that they have bid. In a high profile auction, bidders may have to pay a deposit in escrow accounts or give a proof that they can pay for those items.

Types of Auctions:

Different types of auctions take place around the world. Below mentioned are some types of auctions:

1. English auction:
This is a basic type of auction. In this type, people can see the item and then start bidding. Bidders slowly raise the value of their bid until everyone gives up. The highest bidder is the winner. An auctioneer manages an auction, keeps records of the on going bid and decides the winner. Sometimes, the seller will quote a minimum amount for an item to the auctioneer, below which the auctioneer cannot sell that item.

2. Dutch auction:
In this type, the auctioneer sets a particular price and then gradually lowers the price. People in public will start bidding and later decide which prices are suitable for the item. A seller may use this type of auction to sell large quantities of same products to the public. For instance, a seller may want to sell a large amount of hay and will thus, decide to sell this hay to people for the same amount, once a reasonable price is decided.

3. Silent auction:
In this type, the bidders in public will present their bids in a sealed format. These sealed bids open at the same time and bidder with the highest bid wins. There could be a modification in this type of auction. The bidders are allotted a specific period to bid. They can roam in a room displaying the items, and write their bids on an associated sheet of paper. The bidders are allowed to see bids of other bidders and can choose a higher price for an item. At the end of the allotted time, bidder with the highest bid is the winner.

Examples of Auctions:

Auctions can be of two types either public or private. Sellers may trade any kind of items in both types of auctions. Some areas where auctions take place are:

1. Antique auction: An antique auction consists of a trade opportunity as well as provides entertainment.

2. Collectable auction: In a collectable auction, the seller may put up collectables like coins, vintage cars, luxury, stamps, real estate, and luxury for sale.

3. Wine auction: In wine auction, bidders can bid for rare wine, which may not be available in retail wine shops.

4. Horse auction: Bidders can bid for young horses of the best breed.

5. Livestock auction: In livestock auction, bidders can buy pigs, sheep, cattle, and other livestock.

The other examples of auctions may not be public. These auctions are for bidders from corporate levels. Some examples of private auctions are:

1. Timber auction
2. Spectrum auction
3. Electricity auction
4. Debit auction
5. Environmental auction
6. Auto auction
7. Electronic market auction
8. Sales of business auction

Bidders in an auction need to examine the items displayed and decide an appropriate price for an item. Thus, auctions help buyers in getting the best deals and in gaining better profits for sellers.

Auction Listings Are Vital to the Success of Fundraising Auctions

Fundraising Auction Tip: You should always provide potential bidders with a printed Auction Listing of both your Live and Silent Auction items at any Fundraising Auction. A printed Auction Listing is vital for several reasons:

An Auction Listing informs bidders of the order of sale, and what is coming up next. If you keep your bidders guessing, they will simply not bid.

If bidders are not 100% certain of what they are bidding on, they will not bid. A printed Auction Listing should answer any and all questions about what is being sold in order to encourage bidders to bid as much as possible.

Bidders often need time to plan their bidding strategies, especially on multiple and/or larger value items. A printed Auction Listing helps them to do that.

Couples often need time to consult with each other about what they are willing to spend on something. A printed Auction Listing helps them to do that.

Potential bidders need to know the specifics, the benefits, and the restrictions on any item they are going to bid on, especially on travel and/or other higher value items. A printed Auction Listing should answer all of their questions, in writing.

After bidders see that they have lost an item to another bidder, a printed Auction Listing makes it easier for them to re-strategize on what else they can bid on.
Printed Auction Listings generally come in 3 forms:

Printed in the Event Program or Auction Catalog.

Printed on loose sheets of paper and hand-inserted into the Event Program or Auction Catalog.

Printed on loose sheets of paper and hand-delivered to all attendees, or left on each dinner table in the room.
Auction Listings cost practically nothing to produce and they can make the difference between the success and failure of a Live and Silent Auction. You should never conduct a Fundraising Auction without one.

A Case Study

Let me share a real-life experience with you. Once I was hired to conduct a Fundraising Auction for a nationally renowned organization. The event was held in a major hotel, in one of the country’s largest cities, with several hundred “black tie” participants attending. It was an extremely professional event, with the music, singing, lighting, speeches, and awards all perfectly timed and choreographed. Everything was done to perfection… exception the Fundraising Auction.

Although I had signed an agreement to serve as their Auctioneer nearly one year in advance of the event, no one bothered to contact me for any advice or help. Approximately one week prior to the Auction date, I contacted the group to see if they had replaced me with another Auctioneer. But they said that I was still their man.

Upon arriving at the event I asked for a copy of the Auction Listing. I was told that there were none. I’m not sure whether they felt that the Auction Listing wasn’t necessary, or whether someone forgot to have them printed. This was never made clear. When I asked what I was to use at the podium, I was told to copy the list of Live Auction items from a committee member’s computer. It took me about 30 minutes to copy three pages of hand-written notes in order to prepare for my role as their Auctioneer.

I knew that they had created a PowerPoint program showing the various Live Auction items. When I asked whether the PowerPoint slide order corresponded to the order of sale I had copied from the committee member’s computer, I was met with a blank stare. The committee member left to check the slide order, and returned to let me know that the slide order did not correspond my notes, and he provided me with the correct slide order… hand-written on a paper napkin. This forced me to re-arrange my three pages of hand-written notes before taking the podium.

There was a Live Auction Table with descriptions of the Live Auction items that were to be sold, but the table was not clearly marked, and it received significantly less attention than the Silent Auction Tables, which were clearly identified. Since the Live Auction Table was located adjacent to the “Raffle Table”, it appeared that most people thought it was part of the raffle and therefore paid very little attention to it.

According to the event program (which did not include an Auction Listing), I knew approximately when I was to begin the Live Auction. At the designated time the Master of Ceremonies announced the start of the Live Auction to the several hundred people in attendance, and introduced me as Auctioneer. As I approached the podium I realized that photographs of award winners were still being taken… directly in front of the podium where I was to stand… which required me to stand aside for several minutes until the photographers were done. Can we say “awkward moment”?

As the photographers cleared, I approached the podium and began my Live Auction introduction. Approximately one minute into my introduction, the “Raffle Committee” approached the podium and stopped my Live Auction Introduction in order to pull the 8 or 9 Raffle Winners. These drawings lasted about 5 minutes. Upon it’s conclusion I was allowed to resume the start of the Live Auction.

When standing at the podium two intense and extremely bright spotlights were pointed directly at the podium. The lights were so bright that I literally could not see the center 1/3 of the room. I could see the tables on the right, and on the left, but was totally blinded when looking straight ahead. It took perhaps five minutes before the spotlights were turned off.

While at the podium and describing Lot #1, I had to ask someone to start the Lot #1 PowerPoint Slide… because apparently no one was assigned that job.

So with only the Auctioneer’s verbal description, and a PowerPoint slide, it appeared that few people in the room had any idea about what we were selling… or when we were selling it… until it was announced by the Auctioneer. As a result, bidding was extremely light and the final results fell several thousands of dollars short of where they should have been
The learning experience is this:

The Live Auction is where you place your better items, and where the real money should be made at any Fundraising Auction. Let bidders know as far in advance as possible what you will be selling, and the order of sale, so they can get excited about the Auction, and plan their bidding strategy accordingly.

Auction Listings are absolutely vital to the success of both Live & Silent Auctions. In my opinion, revenues at this Auction fell thousands of dollars short of where they should have been, because no Auction Listing was provided to the guests.

If bidders are not perfectly clear on what is being sold, including both the item’s specifics, benefits, and restrictions, they will not bid.

When you have a committee of volunteers, especially volunteers having full time jobs and/or very busy schedules, the services of a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can help to keep the committee on track.

And once you retain the services of a professional Fundraising Auctioneer… use the services that you are paying for.

How Important Is the Fundraising Auctioneer to the Success of Your Event?

I want you to think about the term “Fundraising Auction”.

A “Fundraising Auction” is an event where items of value are gathered, and then sold in a competitive bidding situation, either in a Silent Auction format, or in a Live Auction format by a Live Auctioneer. And since typically the best items are saved for the Live Auction, arguably it is the Live Auction that should generate a significant portion of the proceeds in any Fundraising Auction.

So why do so many non-profit groups consider the Fundraising Auctioneer to be the least valuable component in a Fundraising Auction?

The Hosting Facility gets paid.
The Printer gets paid.
The Caterer gets paid.
The Liquor Store gets paid.
The DJ gets paid.
The Florist gets paid.
But the Auctioneer … the individual who is expected to raise the lion’s share of the event’s proceeds… is expected to work for Free. And is usually under-appreciated for the professional services he/she provides.

I’m not trying to underscore the value of the invitations & programs, food, booze, music, and decorations. All are important in their own way. But each of these are “Expenses”. It is the Auctioneer who is going to bring “Revenue”… and thus, the “Profits”… into any event. Which is the ultimate objective of any Fundraising Auction.

Here is a real-life example of how under-appreciated the Auctioneer can be. In two comparable events we worked last year, during the dinner portion of the event one non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) at a table with the DJ, the Interns, the Volunteer Staff, and other event “Help”. The 2nd non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) directly next to the CEO of their organization, where we chatted about how important the pending revenue would be to their organization. Which group do you think valued the services of the Fundraising Auctioneer more?

Don’t ever under-estimate the value that a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can bring to your event. The Auctioneer adds value as a pre-event consultant. And the Auctioneer can change an event from a moderate to a huge success.

A Case Study Once I was scheduled to call an Auction for a major local non-profit group. They represented a very good cause and they had a strong and dedicated following. Their event was sold out, quality Live & Silent Auction items had been solicited, and the Special Pledge Appeal had been choreographed and was ready to go. The facility was first class, the appropriate caterer was booked, and the food was ready to cook.

But quite unexpectedly, some unseasonably inclement weather forced the event’s cancellation. Despite all of the committee’s hard work, cancelling the event was the proper decision considering the circumstances.

So the Event Committee scrambled to re-schedule the event for the following weekend.

They confirmed with the Hosting Facility.
They confirmed with the Caterer.
They confirmed with the Liquor Store.
They confirmed with the DJ.
They confirmed with the Florist.
Since they already had the Mailing List of those scheduled to attend, no new invitations had to be printed as all were contacted by email or telephone. So with everything in place, the group went ahead and re-scheduled the event for the following weekend.

But guess who they failed to confirm? You got it… the Professional Auctioneer. They thought so little of the Auctioneer’s contribution that they “assumed” that the Auctioneer would be available and at their beck and call.

But the Auctioneer already had another Fundraising Auction booked for that date with another non-profit group. It was only hour away from the re-scheduled event, and things could have been easily worked out. All Group #1 had to do was start their event one hour earlier, or one hour later, than the Group #2, and the Auctioneer could have helped both groups on the same day.

But because Group #1 failed to anticipate a possible Auctioneer conflict, because they failed to confirm with the Auctioneer before re-scheduling their event, their preferred Auctioneer had to bow out and they had to scramble to locate substitute “Volunteer” Auctioneer only days before their event.

And it cost them.

Learning Points

The Live Auction is usually where the profits are made at any Fundraising Auction.
A Professional Fundraising Auctioneer can be vital to the success of any Fundraising Auction.
The better Fundraising Auctioneers usually get booked quickly.
You need to recognize the important contributions that a good Auctioneer can make to your event.
Michael Ivankovich is a Bucks County Fundraising Auctioneer based in Doylestown PA, and serves the Great Philadelphia PA area. He has been a professionally licensed and bonded Auctioneer in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, has been named Pennsylvania’s Auctioneer of the Year, and has considerable experience in conducting Fundraising Auctions. Michael loves helping groups raise needed funds for good causes and one of his specialties is the “Special Pledge Appeal” or “Fund-A-Cause Appeal” which usually enables clients to double their revenue in a single evening.