Glossary of Auction Terms

Absentee Bid:

This is a way that you can bid even if you cannot attend the auction in person. Many places allow written absentee bids, phone-in bids, and even online bidding.


The act of or process of estimating value.

As Is:

Selling the property without warranties as to the condition and/or the fitness of the property for a particular use.

Auction Block:

The podium or raised platform where the auctioneer stands while conducting the auction.

Auction With Reserve:

An auction in which the seller or his agent reserves the right to accept or decline any and all bids.

Auction Without Reserve: 

(Absolute Auction)

An auction where the property is sold to the highest qualified bidder with no limiting conditions or amount. The seller may not bid personally or through an agent.


The person whom the seller engages to direct, conduct, or be responsible for a sale by auction. This person may or may not actually call or cry the auction.


A prospective buyer’s indication or offer of a price he or she will pay to purchase property at auction. Bids are usually in standardized increments established by the auctioneer.

Bid Assistants:

A form executed by the high bidder confirming and acknowledging the bidder’s identity, the bid price and the description of the property.

Bid Caller:

The person who actually “calls,” “cries” or “auctions” the property at an auction, recognizing bidders and acknowledging the highest bidder. Commonly known as the auctioneer.

Bidder Package:

The package of information and instructions pertaining to the property to be sold at an auction event obtained by prospective bidders at an auction.

Bidder Number:

The number issued to each person who registers at an auction.

Bidder’s Choice:

A method of sale whereby the successful high bidder wins the right to choose a property or properties from a grouping of similar or like-kind properties. After the high bidder’s selection, the property is deleted from the group, and the second round of bidding commences, with the high bidder in round two choosing a property, which is then deleted from the group and so on, until all properties are sold.

Bookkeeper or Clerk:

The person who is responsible for the accounting and paperwork at an auction sale.

Buyer Premium:

A percentage added on to your bid amount.


The fee charged to the seller by the auctioneer for providing services, usually a percentage of the gross selling price of the property established by contract (the listing agreement) prior to the auction.

Estate Sale:

The sale of property left by a person at his or her death. An estate auction can involve the sale of personal and/or real property.

Hammer Price:

Price established by the last bidder and acknowledged by the auctioneer before dropping the hammer or gavel.

On-Site Auction:

An auction conducted on the premises of the property being sold.

Sale bill:

If an auction company makes a sale bill available to you, be sure to get one. It can help you to know the description of the items sold and also how it will be sold.