Friday, April 17, 2009

Tommy Williams with the National Auctioneers Association #118

Bruce Norris is joined once again 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 by asking if there is a different process in selling real estate and cattle. Tommy says there is a slight difference but he’s hoping the audience will still understand. He says cattle auction goes a little faster and is a little more entertaining.

Auto auctions generate close to 50% of the proceeds for auctions. The end buyers are typically dealers. There are both dealer and public auctions but some are only available to dealers.

July 13-18th is an auction reunion in Kansas and Bruce asks who attends. Tommy says over 1,000 auctioneers will attend and bring families. It is the best and main time of year to attend education for the auction industry. Over 60 seminars will be available.

Bruce asks about Tommy’s family history in the auctions business. Tommy says there was a little family history but he fell into it on his own. Tommy’s son Dean is an attorney and didn’t plan to be in the auction industry. Tommy moved the business from Illinois to Oklahoma and Dean visited while in school and ended up later partnering. Tommy says he has six grandkids and he thinks a few might be interested in the business.

Bruce talks about the model Williams and Williams has chosen and how it is different from other auction houses. Tommy says online auctions are a very viable way to sell items and Williams and Williams does conduct online auctions. However, Tommy says a property will earn 10% more on the lawn then it will bring online or in a ballroom setting. It’s significant and matters. There is more expense in having these types of auctions.

Tommy describes the difference between absolute and seller reserve auctions. Tommy says the absolute auction is by far the best and motivates the buyer to the ultimate level of bidding. It also attracts the most attendance which is key for the best price. Tommy says many can’t stomach absolute so more are sold with reserve.

Tommy says it not impossible for very experienced auctioneers make mistakes. It’s complicated and not as easy it may look. Advertising has definitely changed over the years. The newspaper has dropped in value each and every day and online advertising has gotten more important. The auction companies track the marketing process very carefully to see where most people are seeing the information.

Tommy says when the word “sold” is uttered, in an absolute auction, it is the most binding contract you can enter into. It is different in a seller reserve. Bruce talks about dealing with deposits in real estate now and how difficult closing can become. Tommy says he thinks 10% down should be at stake to make sure the buyers are truly qualified. Tommy says he doesn’t like the current way real estate is sold because of these issues as buyers can tie up your property will no ramifications if they don’t come through.

Tommy describes how the auction business is commissioned. Williams and Williams gets commissioned directly from the seller. Some lenders require, however, a buyer’s premium. Many more auctions are charging buyers but Tommy actually likes charging the seller. He thinks the buyers see the auction in a more positive light and the premium isn’t seen as a tax on their purchase.

Bruce asks about Tommy dealing with lower priced areas. Tommy says there are minimum fees that must be charged. There does become a point where auctions can’t sell a property because it doesn’t cover the fees.

Bruce talks about lenders not foreclosing on properties because there is more owned on the property then it is worth so lenders don’t do anything with it. Tommy says this issue is really serious and most people aren’t hearing about. Tommy says he’s seen some neighborhoods where 80% of the neighborhood is vacant. There’s almost no choice but to tear them down as they become magnets for vandalism, squatters, and drug labs. Bruce says it doesn’t even have to be an old areas and Tommy sounds surprised. Tommy says that’s why these homes have to be given occupants whether they are investors or owner occupants. Empty properties are not good for neighborhoods.

Bruce talks about Orange County and the FDIC leasing space to set up shop to deal with assets. He asks if Tommy has heard of that and if Williams and Williams were involved in the RTC situation. Tommy says they were slightly involved with the RTC but dealing with government is difficult. Tommy had not heard of the offices being rented in Orange County. Tommy is worried the FDIC will warehouse the properties and it will make the problem worse.

Bruce brings up a new term he saw on the Williams and Williams website called “auction referral cooperative.” Tommy says this is a way to establish a network of like-minded auctioneers that refer one another. There’s no financial obligation and they are simply looking for other auctioneers of the same mind and there’s a referral fee involved.

Thank you Tommy as always for joining us on the show. We look forward to seeing you again this year on September 11th, 2009 for I Survived Real Estate 2009. See more on Williams and Williams at

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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