“As soon as a buyer hears ‘on the market’, they think the owners are happy, and they’re paying too much.
“Auctioneers should be good enough not to need it. The threat that you're going to sell should be enough to keep the bidding rolling.”
He added that some of the other terms you can use are "we're going to sell it”, “we're over the limit”, “it's going”, and “it's being done today”.
How to handle the question “is it on the market”
Jesse, senior auctioneer with auctionWORKS and Chair of the REINSW Auctioneers Committee, said: “Sometimes people are genuinely fed up and you must have empathy and try to keep them on side.
“I say "we've got a little bit more work to do, but the highest bidder will get the first chance to have a chat to our owners and negotiate, so if you want to own the property, you're going to have to compete".”
Leon: “The person asking the question is doing it for one of two reasons. They're trying to disrupt or they genuinely want to know.
“If they're trying to disrupt, your answer is no because we don't have the right to sell the property before confirming with our sellers. The owner can change their reserve at any time.
“But the person that's genuinely asking, we should address it and say, "would it help you if it was?" and if the answer's no, “would it help you in your bidding if it was?”, or “why don't you bid more and I'll let you know?".”
Tips and advice
1. Use your instinct
Leon said: “The difference between a good agent and the best is instinct. Do you want to go inside and get the vendor down, or go to the buyer to get more before you sell.
“Holding off calling it is the last trick up our sleeve, to generate some extra bidding. If you’re over reserve and you’ve called it ‘on the market’ you've given away your position and the only option now is to sell it.”
2. Pre-auction information
Jesse: “During a campaign it's really important that agents ask open-ended questions that start conversations and build rapport. These questions will enable you to gain as much information about your buyers’ as possible.
“Auction day is a completely different kettle of fish. We like our agents to turn the tables and ensure that the questions they ask are closed-ended.
“Too many agents don't talk to the buyers and assume they're all right, and that's wrong.”
Leon: “Preparation is the key. We focus on building a relationship with our client so when you ask for an open bid, it's already there because you've shown they can trust you.”
Jesse: “It is our job as auctioneers to ensure we have momentum. One thing that frustrates auctioneers is an agent who interrupts an auction running beautifully to have a chin wag with one of the buyers. That’s the worst time to talk to a buyer.”
Leon: “Sometimes you have to let it roll and if a buyer wants to bid in tens, let them. The moment they start to falter, that's the time to start to think about what you are going to talk about, how you can address it and what you want to achieve."
4. Setting the reserve
Leon: “I would have a conversation to understand why the vendor has chosen their reserve and explain that there's three levels in an auction of who's in control.
“You've got the feedback, expectations and the area in between. Up to the feedback, the auctioneer is in control, and their job is to get it to the feedback initially.
“From your expectations, the buyers are in control and between the feedback and your reserve it is decision time.”
He added: "If you show the reserve to a buyer you can guarantee every buyer will say they’re not paying that much, so you have to go higher so it becomes a negotiating tool.”
5. How to handle small increments?
Jesse said: “It's important you determine why the buyer wants to bid in small increments. Is it because they are close to their limit, or they want to buy it cheaply?
“I would thank them for the bid and tell them we're shopping for property not groceries, because it's important you keep them in controllable increments.”
He added: “We’re entering a transitional market and the bids are taking more time.
“People get bogged down in increments, and whilst you shouldn’t accept $1,000 bids when you're $300,000 away from reserve, it's important you keep everybody on side and keep the momentum rolling up to a certain figure.”