Do you publicize the value of your auction items?


This is a topic I have struggled with for years.  Should FMV (Fair Market Value) be listed in the catalog or not?  MY ANSWER – NO.  I don’t think values should be listed on the powerpoint, or in the catalog.  The listing of a FMV in the catalog or on the powerpoint could limit the amount of money you make on a live auction item.  People are generous for sure, but they may not be willing to pay 3x the amount of something, especially if they know the true FMV value.

The only time you need to add FMV to a catalog or powerpoint is when the value will help sell an item.  For instance if an item has a high value but your guests don’t realize how special and how valuable it is – I think you should let them know, just so they understand what they are bidding on.


1) Your auctioneer needs to know the FMV of items.  It is crucial for her or him to be able to know where to start the bid.  And for them to know the true value of the items they are selling.

2) FMV’s need to be listed on receipts you give your guests at the end of the night for tax purposes.

3) The only items that should be listed as priceless, are items that are truly priceless.  Principal for a Day for instance, or class art projects.  But most everything in your auction has a true FMV.

4) You can promote the value of your auction on social media, etc.  “Come bid and be part of over $30,000 worth of fabulous live auction items.”

5) FMV’s on silent items should be listed.  This is the one place in the auction where it is OK for someone to get a deal.  Typically your silent auction return should be about 70% of value.

Another note: One of the most important questions we ask clients is not “how much did you make at your last live auction,” but “how much was the return of value of your live auction items.”  That information is how the auctioneer knows how spendy your crowd is.  If you earned $100,000 in your live auction and the value of the items was $50,000… that’s 200% of value, and that is awesome.  However if the value was $200,000 and you earned $100,000 that is a 50% return.  Big difference on the spending habits and spending capacity of your guests.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know: stephen@kilbreathauctions.com

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