Bidding war

Anyone curious how the farm auction turned out? You’ve already heard about the auction on the farm and my good fortune in finding the items I thought I’d lost. But what about the auction of the farm?

Remember I mentioned that the whole property–the stone farmhouse, the big barn and all 17 acres–were going to be sold? The big day was a week ago.

Stone farmhouse and red barn

I’ve seen one house sold by auction before, but never a whole farm. Auctioning a property is a bit different than other auctions in my experience. Terms are spelled out very, very carefully before any bidding starts. For this sale, the only thing up for negotiation was the price. The winning bidder was making an unconditional offer to purchase the farm–no home inspection, no financing, no sale of their own house, no negotiation on the closing date. And they had to hand over a $50,000 deposit as soon as the auction was over.

Once the sale got going, things moved much more slowly than a typical auction. The auctioneer of course started high. He got no action and slowly lowered the price until people started bidding. He stopped the bidding a couple of times–he’d given us a heads up that he was going to–giving people a chance to talk things over and hopefully talk themselves into bidding.

Matt was not one of those people. He spent the whole auction trying to stand completely still and not make any motion that could be construed as a bid.

Crowd gathered at a farm auction

As the numbers climbed, it got down to just two bidders. Finally, the one shook his head. He could go no higher. Having lost a few farms in more traditional bidding wars, I felt badly for him, knowing how painful it is to come so close but still walk away farm-less.

The auctioneer took one more break, but the second bidder truly had reached his limit. When the auctioneer started again, it was to slowly and deliberately say, “I have [magic number] once. I have [magic number] twice. I have [magic number] three times. Fair warning.”

There was no climactic, “SOLD!” I expect that the bid was still under the reserve set by the sellers. Instead, the high bidder went into the farmhouse with the sellers to negotiate a final price–which of course was kept secret. The crowd stuck around until the auctioneer came back out onto the porch to announce that the deal was done.

Have you ever been through a bidding war or seen a whole property auctioned off? Have you ever accidentally bid on something or do you make like a statue like Matt?

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