The overall length of an auction depends on how many lots will be sold, the relative complexity of the process and terms and conditions, and the overall competitiveness of the bidding.
In a traditional live auction setting, excluding real estate, auctioneers typically take 20 seconds to 2 minutes to sell lots. Items might be sold more quickly if:
- The bidders are professional buyers
- The relative value of the items is well known and established
- The items are inexpensive.
Conversely, unfamiliar bidders, unknown value, or high overall value will extend the bidding process several minutes.
When selling real estate it is not uncommon for an auction to take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. This is due to the complexity and gravity of the transaction. At some auctions, multiple parcels or tracts of land are offered individually and in combination. These “multi-par” auctions might take several hours to complete.
How auctioneers speed up bidding
Of course, at a true public auction, every bidder will have at least one more opportunity to bid again. This means, theoretically, auctions can go on for a very long time. Skilled live auctioneers will often change the amount of the next bid to help accelerate the bidding process. Auctioneers in live and online auctions may also decrease the amount of time allowed for a bidder to bid. The decrease in the bidding window will increase urgency and speed up the bidding process.
At benefit auctions or fundraising gala events, the bidding may also take more time when compared to a commercial auction. This is due to the auctioneer’s entertainment factor and the charity/non-profit’s desire to fully explain and describe the auction item. At benefit auctions, this is especially relevant with bidders who might be unaccustomed to auctions and the bidding process.
While the settings may change, a skilled live auctioneer will continue to move the auction along to increase the amount raised within a given amount of time. Work with a professional auctioneer to fully understand the overall timeline and pace of your auction.