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What are Live Auctions?

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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Live auctions are events where an item is presented to a group of people and eventually sold to the highest bidder, who is the person willing to pay the most money for it. There are many variations and types of auctions. In live auctions all of the action takes place in real time whether the bidders are all in the same physical place or not. The most common types of live auctions are English and Dutch auctions, each of which has items for sale at constantly varying prices.

In a live English-style auction, bidding starts at either zero or a set price for an item, and anyone who wishes to bid on the price of the item can do so at any time, until only one buyer remains. Buyers are often allowed to submit a maximum price to pay for an item before an auction takes place, so it is not always necessary for a buyer to be in attendance in order to be part of a live auction. There are many different configurations for English-style auctions, and some of the most popular today, including online auctions, do not require any buyers to gather in the same place while taking part in the auction.

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Dutch auctions, sometimes referred to as open price descending auctions, are live auctions where the starting price of an item is the top asking price wanted by the seller. The price is then reduced until a bidder is willing to pay the lowered price for the item. Dutch auctions aren’t nearly as common as English auctions, and are used more often when there are several buyers for multiple similar items.

Just about any kind of item can be sold at live auctions. A few examples are cars, houses, land, animals, art, collectibles, antiques and more. Some of these auctions end when no one else is willing to pay more than the highest bidder. In the case of online auctions, there is usually a set time limit after which the bidding automatically ends. Live auctions with a time limit often see most action occurring in the final minute or two, where the price can be driven up very fast by last-minute bidders and people using online auction software designed to do their bidding for them.

Public auctions are another popular type of live auction, where items up for bidding can include repossessed automobiles or foreclosed houses. Bidders seek out low prices and deals at live auctions such as these, and a lot of the times, the bidders include people who buy and sell at auctions for a living. Most of these types of auctions will require an auctioneer or auction company to oversee the selling of the item, and these people will typically receive a commission once the item is sold.

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