According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of an auction is in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder through a public sale. From celebrity memorabilia to charity fundraising to a portfolio of properties, this unique platform has gained substantial popularity over the past few decades. Auctioning now holds prominence in various online forums as well - just check out eBay, eBid, uBid or a plethora of others currently available. Since the real estate market crash in 2008, auctions have become a primary option particularly when it comes to selling property - whether it’s commercial auctions, residential auctions, luxury properties or land.
Despite the rising recognition of auctions and the benefits they bring, the National Auctioneers Association estimates that women comprise only 7% of auctioneers in the United States. Though Emma Bailey was the first female to drop the gavel at an auction way back in 1950, the numbers for women are still surprisingly low for this growing career path.
According to Beth Rose, owner of Rose Auction Group and third-generation auctioneer, men covering the majority in the auction field is something of tradition. “Many auction companies date back several generations. With that in mind, traditionally, auctioneers were male,” Rose says. “As females have broken the glass ceiling in the global workforce, the same would be true for the auction industry.”
Kristine Fladeboe Duininck, partner/auctioneer of family-run Fladeboe Auctions and named International Auctioneer Champion by the National Auctioneers Association in 2010, echoes this perspective. “Auctions are nostalgic. It is a profession that is often times passed down from generation to generation,” she says. “In past generations women were not as commonly accepted in the work field. The auction business can be very demanding and I specifically work very hard to balance my family and clients.”
Linda Terry is currently an Auctioneer/Broker/Partner with Tranzon Fox and has been working full-time in the auction industry since 1987. Terry notices basic gender differences that can lead to the scale tilting on the male side, commenting, “When it comes to actual bid calling, men may tend to be favored simply for the tenor of their voice. I think a woman needs to work on keeping a low cadence and take care not to be high-pitched or squeaky.”
Terry also points out the specific strengths that women bring to the auction block. “As for signing up auction business, I truly think woman are great at being compassionate for sellers who are feeling financial pressure, and they are naturally good at asking for money in the bidding ring, so women make effective players in the auction world,” Terry says. “Perhaps it's a confidence issue and it takes a strong personality to break in and make a go of it.”
“Although the number of females in the auction business may be marginal, the voice of female auctioneers are anything but marginal,” Rose adds. “Female auctioneers are now leading the way in many fields of the auction world; real estate, benefit auctions, and online only auctions.” Rose knows of what she speaks - she was the first female in history to win the Michigan State Auctioneers Association bid-calling contest in 2009.
The excitement of auctions has even made a splash on the small screen. Several TV reality shows cover the rivaling bidding process, including highly popular programs like Auction Kings and Auction Hunters. It’s not limited to the United States - in Australia, hit television show The Block follows four couples as they compete against each other to renovate houses and sell them at auction for the highest price. The Block has been topping the ratings list since 2003.
The competitive, high-energy atmosphere of an auction makes it an alluring draw for prospective buyers. For sellers, it’s a definitive way of selling within a specific time frame. Those conducting the auction love how both sides benefit. Linda Terry sees this with the properties she auctions. “Because my focus is strictly on real estate, I love it when the right buyer is matched to a motivated seller. I enjoy the challenge of how to best market any given property, always asking myself ‘who is the buyer for this?’”
“Auctions can be memorable for many different reasons - making the most profit, drawing the largest crowd, having great weather and running like clockwork, yielding unexpectedly high results, or selling something very unique,” Terry says. “This is truly what I love about the auction business - there are unlimited ways of promoting, bid calling, and parceling, combining, separating and lotting up the offerings to maximize your return. I love that we bring many buyers to the table, not just one.”
Even women already in an established career have been drawn by the art of auctioneering. Laura Mancinelli of Prosperity Auctions recalls when she made the jump into the auction field. “I was in Human Resources for over 20 years and one of the companies I did HR for was an auto auction company. We sold approximately 2000 cars every week...I got to know the auctioneers over the years and just loved the energy of the auction and asked them how you learned to do what they did,” Mancinelli says. “They told me you had to go to auction school and get a license and take a state exam - I decided right there and then and I did it!”
Being an auctioneer requires more than bid calling - you wear many hats, which is part of the allure. “We are marketers, bid callers, humanitarians, realtors, problem solvers, liquidators, appraisers, and leaders in our industry and our communities,” says Beth Rose. “I love the art of deal...meaning, negotiating with the buyers and sellers and putting the deal together in a matter of minutes. It is so thrilling to see the faces of the winning bidder and even more exciting when we supercede the seller's expectations... It still amazes me how we can change someone's life in a matter of minutes with the power of marketing and competitive bidding.”
These influential women also see the financial relief and true gratitude that successful auctions can bring to struggling business owners and families. Kristine Fladeboe Duininck greatly enjoys this aspect of the industry. “Specializing in farm land and fund raising auctions, I have had many opportunities to work with amazing people and impactful organizations,” she comments. “Without fail, the feelings such as gratitude, relief, joy and accomplishment as well as the ability to produce positive results for my clients makes for memorable experiences in both the farmland and fund raising auctions.”
In light of the country’s tumultuous economy over the past few years, auctions have provided a viable option in liquidating assets when they have become unaffordable. “Auctions will always provide a necessary service for those businesses and individuals feeling the pinch of financial distress,” Terry says, noting where business investors also have benefitted from the auction method of sale during the recession. “Serious investor buyers with cash to spend got great buys in all market sectors, including real estate. We saw buyers come out who had been in hiding during the real estate bubble. After several years of being a seller's market, the buyers got their turn between 2008-2012. There will always be market fluctuations when it comes to supply and demand.”
“The number of auctions is now higher than ever and they have increasingly produced record prices,” adds Fladeboe Duininck.
Obviously auctions are going to continue to flourish in multiple venues, making the career of auctioneer a promising one with solid growth potential. Should more women be considering this profession? According to the experts, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
“I encourage any woman to get into the profession,” says Rose. “It has been an amazing journey and has benefited myself and my family. I am not the only female in my family that is an auctioneer - I have 3 other sisters that are second generation auctioneers as well as my daughter. We are a full female auction firm that conducts hundreds of auctions per year and has trained our market to use auctions as a first resort in selling.”
Terry agrees, saying, “Women who love to sell should consider a career auctioneering because it is the purest form of selling - it's a time-tested, age old way of bringing buyers and sellers together to establish true market value.”
Many already in the field find that getting support from industry resources as well as other seasoned auctioneers can be invaluable. “I encourage any woman to get involved in the National Association of Auctioneers,” Rose recommends. “This organization has given me the education to be the best in my industry along with networking with some of the top auctioneers in the world. I also encourage women to mentor under another auctioneer. All of us in the industry, regardless if they are male or female, want to see every auctioneer succeed. Auctioneers are some of the hardest working yet most giving people I have ever seen in any industry... I would encourage someone interested in doing real estate auctions to conduct realtor seminars in order to get instant business or someone that wants to specialize in antique and personal property auctions to get connected with the probate courts. If someone wanted to specialize in benefit auctions, I would recommend conducting webinars or seminars to large nonprofit organizations.”
Terry adds, “If you are a natural at selling, and are convinced that auctions are an effective way to sell, and you are patient and persistent in working your chosen path you will be able to make a good living. Attend to as many auctions as you can, decide what you like to sell, find a mentor to learn from, attend CAI, appraisal classes, and specialty sessions in your chosen field and never stop educating yourself... If bid calling is your chosen vocation, get a coach, and get practice by helping with daily/weekly auctions.”
So for those women toying with the idea of entering this fast-paced life-changing terrain, it may be the beginning of a very lucrative career. As Beth Rose advises, “The business is out there, you just need to find your niche and run with it!”
Courtesy of Melissa Mitas at Property Auctions