Understanding Online Auctions and Dynamic Endings - Carolina Auction & Realty

There are probably few things that are more exciting than an online auction. The highs, the lows, and wins and losses. There are few things like them.

Many people don’t know that some points are unique to online auctions that can be troublesome until more experience is gained. Keep reading for more information on the background needed and, hopefully, turn the excitement up a notch on auctions in NC 

What is a Soft Close (Dynamic Ending)?

When someone places their bid in the last few minutes of an online auction, the closing time for the specific lot being bid on is extended. This process continues in this manner until there are no more bids in the last few minutes or seconds of the auction. It is only then that the bidding on that lot closes and the winning bid is determined.

An online auction company will stagger the ending times on each item up for bid in some cases. This has the effect of giving a different closing time for each item.

As an example, a North Carolina estate sale might have a closing time of 1 p.m. At 12:30, a bidder places a bid on the lot. The result of this is that the auctioneer changes the time for bidding by two minutes. If, at 12:59, a second bidder outbids the first, the countdown clock is reset on the lot to reflect an extended close of 1:01 pm. This also gives the first bidder and any others an additional opportunity to make another bid. If there are no further bids in the added time, the auction is closed and the second bidder is the winner. If there is another bid, the clock starts again.

Why Do Auctioneers Use a Soft Close?

Try as they might, online auctions lack a certain excitement quality that live auctions thrive on. For this reason, auction professionals use the soft close to mimic that back and forth action. Using a soft close and staggering the end times of the auction adds this element of action and suspense. Further, this allows all bidders to advance their bids. This allows online bidding the same aspect of competitive action of a live auction and minimizes sniping and other online strategies that upset the bidding.

Is a Soft Close Fair?

Many people believe that a soft close isn’t fair in online auctions. There are also those who agree with their use since it allows every registered bidder to bid on a lot and advance their bid as they wish.

There are certain types of online auctions that, due to the asset’s high-value nature, the bidding time may be decreased, and the number of bidders decreases. Regardless, it is critical that anyone who participates in an online auction read and understands the event’s terms and conditions and be prepared to strategize appropriately.

Anyone who might have questions about how an online auction works should contact the auctioneer — and ask for specifics. Most auction professionals will be happy to clarify any questions a participant has to clear up any issues related to the process.