Friday, April 10, 2009

Tommy Williams with the National Auctioneers Association #117

Bruce Norris is joined this week by past President and current Chairman of the Board for the National Auctioneers Association and co-founder of Williams and Williams Auctions, Tommy Williams.

Bruce starts the interview by asking what auction companies miss out on when they aren’t members of the National Auctioneers Association. Tommy says non members miss out of networking, best practices, and education which furthers their professional endeavors. April 18th is national auction day and Tommy would like auctioneers to make communities aware of the benefit that auctions bring to the community. Auctions have the huge benefit of establishing market value on a certain day for numerous products and assets. They also might highlight their charity work in the community through charity auctions. Tommy feels the media picks up too much negative information about auctions and doesn’t highlight all the positives.

Bruce says he read that auctions raise as much money for charities that is sold in real estate and Tommy says that is true. Tommy says auctioneers bring a very important piece of expertise to nonprofit organizations.

Bruce asks if Realtors view auctions as competitors or partners and Tommy thinks too many see auctions as competitors. Tommy says there is fear that auctions establish market value and sometimes people don’t want to really know that actual value. The real estate community wants to not take the hit. Bruce says he’s baulked at final bids before and most times he paid for not selling at that time. Tommy says all of us have been in that situation. Usually, the public will tell the truth and auctions are the best barometer for prices and it will also tell you where price trends are going.

Bruce asks if women are getting more involved in auctions. Tommy says this is a growing trend as it used to be a male dominated field. Tommy says 20-30% of classes for auctions are now women.

Bruce asks about legislative issues that are affecting auctions in general. Tommy says that when legislation postpones the sale of assets it usually means there will be net price deterioration. Real estate is very fragile and unattended and vacant homes tend to lose value.

Bruce says Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac postponed auctions for their properties but in April have started back up. Doing this moratorium cost them money. Tommy says their unwillingness to accept market value has cost them millions. The more they postpone, the worse it will get.

Bruce says he read the auction magazine that in the last few years $270 billion worth of assets were sold. Tommy says this is not a record but getting close. There’s been steady growth in the total dollar sold at auction. 2008 saw prices for assets decline so volume went up but prices were down due to devaluation. So in volume, 2007 and 2008 were record setting years.

Bruce talks about trustee sales and how the lack of advertising doesn’t help the cause. Bruce asks if the National Auctioneers Association has any intent to try and get involved in the trustee sale process. Tommy says that was one of his main goals as President was to do away with the traditional foreclosure process. If the home was sold at the trustee sale to an end user it would save the mortgage holder at least $15,000 in transaction fees. This is not including price declines. This would be of huge benefit to the mortgage industry as a new loan with a new end user would immediately take the property.

Bruce talks about current laws and issues of cities hiring people solely to write fines to homes that are considered blight and that are violating codes. Tommy worries that these types of laws only makes lenders not excited to loan which further exacerbates the lending policies we currently face. No one will want to lend in these areas.

Bruce asks Tommy if he’s nervous about a shift in the American perspective. Tommy says he is concerned that capitalism and private enterprise is something that Americans are now wondering if they should be in favor of. Bruce says he’s concerned as well for some of the things that he’s seen and hopes we can solve some of these issues soon. At “I Survived Real Estate 2008” several solutions were presented but none have been implemented. Bruce things banks could save themselves so much time and money by doing so.

Tommy talks about his pre-foreclosure auction concept. Some Realtors are doing something very similar without approval. Tommy says they’ve implemented something very similar in their company and they’ve tried it out with consumers. As soon as a consumer was falling behind, Williams and Williams worked with the consumer to present the property to the public as well as possible. The final offer was presented to the lender. However, the loan servicer is typically the decision maker and is far removed from the actual decision maker. The goal needs to be lenders getting rid of this stuff as soon as possible to get things moving. This particular solutions gets a new person in the home right away.

For more information visit or Join us next week for part two with Tommy Williams.

Tommy served as President of the National Auctioneers Association in 2008 and is current Chairman of the Board. Tommy also graciously took part in I Survived Real Estate 2008 last year.

Thomas L. Williams is a graduate of Penn State University (B.S. Animal Science) and the Certified Auctioneers Institute (CAI). Representing the third generation of Williams family auctioneers dating back to the mid-1800s, Williams is also a graduate of the historic Reppert School of Auctioneering. He has over 40 years experience in real estate auctions, land development and real estate investment. He currently serves as President of the National Auctioneers Association.

A founding partner of Williams & Williams, Williams served as president from 1986-2000, and became board chairman in 2001. He also co-founded and served as managing partner of Lowderman & Williams Auctioneers from 1965-85. He has conducted over 10,000 auctions in all 48 of the contiguous United States and Canada, and is an advisor to auctions conducted throughout Western Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

An avid cattleman, Williams also owned and operated Bradmar Angus Farms from 1965-85, after which he continued to serve as a herd and genetics consultant for many of the nation's premier Angus cattle breeders.

Williams is a licensed auctioneer and real estate broker in over 20 states, and an active member of the National Association of Realtors.

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