Letter to an auctioneer who asked, how far are you willing to travel to do an auction:
When you saw me driving through Wisconsin last August it is really a testimony to the power of networking through a combination of NAA programs including these forums.
We were driving from our small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to auction two brand new homes in Idaho just over the line from Jackson Hole Wyoming.
The listing was a result of having joint ventured or co-op on several of real estate auctions with Kenny Lindsay up in Michigan earlier in the year.
I met Ken Lindsay on-line right here through the forums, we e-mailed and one day I picked up the phone and asked him if he could help me by taking pictures and posting signs on a couple of real crappy derelict properties in Flint Michigan, that I ended up selling on-line.
One thing led to another and Kenny & I have worked on 5 or 6 real estate auctions in Michigan earning each of us 5-figure paychecks so this board really has paid for our dues.
I have developed an auction listing agent training and recruiting program that is designed not for auctioneers but for people who want to make money in real estate auctions. Professional auctioneers reading this know the hardest part about selling real estate at auction is to find qualified sellers... if you have the product the people will come and bid it up to fair market value, *IF* its properly marketed.
There was someone who had been calling Kenny wanting to get into the auction business but was not sure how to do it so we recruited him into the program.
Our listing agent had a friend with about 30-properties but really needed to get out from under the two in Idaho because his pre-construction loan payments of $300 a month had jumped to $18,000 a month and well you can tell he was not going to make those kind of payments in this market.
NAA Educational programs payoff.
I had met Randy Wells at C&S after joining in 2001 but got to know him over three years at C.A.I. in Bloomington combined with attending educational events, tech seminars and the annual conventions, when I could.
Nothing beats personal interaction and having been to CAI and meeting with Randy over the years I had made up my mind that if we ever had something in Idaho it would be a great experience to work with him.
You gotta love this business when you get paid to make friends, then get paid to work together doing something you love to do.
Last year I had another seller located in Idaho with a small commercial property that Randy Wells Joint Ventured with me so when a listing for two million dollar properties in Idaho fell in my lap from an agent I met through Kenny Lindsay in Michigan it was a natural to call Randy again.
My point is the power of the tools offered to rank and file NAA members is unbelievable.
What is sad, last night on the 'Presidents Chat' with Tommy Williams there were only 13 to 18 members out of 6,000 who really missed out on solid relevant information about our industry but that's another subject.
OK we took a deal 2,857 miles from home that was referred by a referral from an auctioneer 986 miles from home for a seller who lives in California that none of us had met prior to him signing the listing and paying $25,000.00 upfront for the auction expenses.
If that's not a testimony I don't know what is.
How far out did we market?
This first thing I did after getting the listing contract and deposit was to pick up the phone and call Rick Romanus at Auction Services to order a 'Big Dog' Marketing package which is their version of 'The Works'.
Don't want to sound like a commercial for them but for right at $2,000.00 our seller was able to leverage:
300,000 e-mail advertisements sent at least 3 or 4 times
30-second commercial video that was played on all the YouTube type websites, some local TV and we included the video in our Internet auction ads.
Professional Press release written and submitted to every major news outlet in the country resulting in being picked up in a number of newspapers.
Classified ads submitted to over 140,000 websites
Google ad-words campaign
Basically every bell and whistle that they offer plus some being that it was a high profile auction with Kenny Lindsay, Randy Wells & Billy Burke who are all not only customers but friends with Rick & Nancy Romanus as a result of meeting a number of times through NAA events.
We posted the auction on eBay and had inquiries from all over the country and a few international inquiries.
Statewide network of news papers in several states.
Local and regional newspapers for display type ads.
Since the auction was right outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming a place that my wife & I just love to go but we don't know all the details of whats going on I called the chamber of commerce to see if they had any events that would either conflict or compliment the auction. Living and working in a resort area I understand that scheduling is huge and you don't want to conflict with a major event and lose bidders.
The people at the chamber were great and they told me that their annual Fall Arts Festival drew the biggest crowds to the area with high net worth individuals from all over the world being in town that week to spend lots of money...
This was music to my ears and being a long-time local chamber member (as everyone reading this should be) I asked if they had any event sponsorships available?
The lady about fell out of her chair because Chambers work hard to find event sponsors and we secured a sponsorship for about $5,000 that gave us the right to advertise in every single art gallery PLUS we would have a booth on the town square for the two biggest events of the festival, one of which was the annual art auction.
If you have ever worked with or around high net worth people you know that you have to 'buy your way into' events but when you are in you are in and we were the only auctioneers who had ever done something like this there.
We had the tent setup with the new I-Mac playing a loop showing the video and tons of pictures of the property, flyer's, agent coop information the whole nine-yards.
Thousands of inquiries from what we call OPC (offsite personal marketing) marketing all with a very personal touch and it resulted in producing 4 bidders (with $50,000 deposits) one of whom was the President of the Bank of Jackson Hole and lots of local contacts and exposure.
Wyoming is very strict on where we could place 'bandit signs' but since we were 'sponsors' of the Arts Festival I was introduced to local government officials and asked for permission to place strategic 'directional' signs for property previews and auction day which was graciously granted.
Idaho is pretty much wild west and we placed about 50 bandit signs on the Idaho side on the main roads leading to the property, in the town squares, you simply could not miss our signs if you were diving through that part of the State last September.
The reason we drove rather than flew was so I could carry all our equipment, signs, computers, printer and not have to pay for a rental car to get around... Of course my Excursion is a rolling billboard hence getting a call from Ray Miller and lots of other people as a result of my toll free number and website emblazoned across our 'Conestoga Wagon of the New Millennium' on the trip.
We produced realtor information packages and I personally went to all 35 real estate offices in the area, met with local realtors and explained how easy the process of 'Buyers Agent' representation to earn 3% with us was.
Many of you on the boards have seen me blast realtors but let me tell you that the Jackson Hole, Driggs / Victor Idaho agents were very professional, receptive and friendly... The market had slowed down to about zero and they wanted to learn how to make some money with auctioneers. It was a positive experience for me and there are several agents still working with us to bring in sellers for our next auction there as a result.
Marketing was everything from
Global advertising to regional speciality websites
NAA auction calender
'Bandit signs' on the highways
Cable TV, You Tube
Not mention digital bidder information packages available from our website with internet bidding.
Good old fashioned low tech pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and asking local agents if they knew anyone who wants to buy a brand new luxury home in a four star resort at their price.
All of this resulted pretty much the same as if the auction was held in my own backyard here on the Eastern Shore with 8 registered bidders on-site and a Doctor from Virginia bidding on the phone, each having posted a $50,000.00 non-refundable deposit and the properties delivering the present cash market value.
How did the two winning bidders learn about the auction?
The first winning bidder was represented by a realtor who had seen a bandit sign on the highway and when he went into the office talked about it with his broker whom I had met earlier that morning and left an agent coop package with.
The other had been the high bidder at the art auction held right across from our tent in the town square who paid $400,000.00 for the 'Signature piece' from the event and checked out the property on our computer there, then walked to the auction held two blocks away. Working with the Chamber of Commerce gave us the edge to schedule our auction after the morning art auction and before the evening charity art auction.
The low tech marketing attracted them but the high tech information delivery of a 250 page DIGIBIP sold them on the properties...
The Doctor in Virginia saw it on eBay, got an e-mail from the auction services blast AND was a subscriber to our website & e-mail list but each element of marketing backup everything he saw and numerous exposures made him call me and call me and call me... he dropped out of the bidding in the high $500's but thats pretty good for sight unseen and overnighting a cashiers check to be able to bid.
This is a detailed answer to my three line response to Ray Millers question:
How far out do you range to do auctions? Local, Region, National
As far as I have to!
As far as I have to!
As many as I have to!
This is a business where you can't be too good to get your hands dirty if you want a paycheck.
If there is any advice I could give to anyone who reads these boards, go to the NAA events, meet the people, invest in your education with designations, network, think outside the box whenever you can and don't be afraid to pick up the phone to work a 'small auction' with someone across town or across the country that you don't know.
The first auction with Kenny Lindsay was for a real piece of crap house that sold for $3,700.00 and he was reluctant to take a $100 gas money for taking the pictures and posting the signs. That first auction with Randy Wells was a no-sale because the seller killed the deal telling everyone all over his tiny town some unrealistic price of wanting $100,000.00 for a $15,000.00 property and the bids we got were rejected.
That didn't stop any of us so remember:
The next auction you work together could very well be a couple of million dollar homes referred by a friend of a friend of a friend of that auctioneer across the country you called and offered a hundred bucks to put up a sign on a derelict property.
Contact The Author
Commentary on the American real estate market from an auctioneers point of view.