What Is a Public Sale?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 April 2019
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A public sale is any type of event in which property or other assets are offered for auction or purchase by the general public. With a truly public sale, there is no need to register for the event ahead of time. The date and time for the event is publicized in advance, making it possible for anyone who wishes to attend to participate in the sale.

The range of assets offered at a public sale will vary. One of the most common has to do with the sale or auction of property such as homes, houses of worship, or commercial buildings. While the sale may be triggered by the need to sell property that is in foreclosure, this type of public offering can also be used by businesses or religious organizations that wish to relocate to sell properties and raise funds that are put toward the purchase of new properties.

Securities can also be sold at a public sale. In this situation, the sale is often referred to as a public offering. The issuer of the securities will often organize the event and may or may not require investors to register prior to the commencement of the sale. Depending on the nature of the securities, they may be sold in even lots, meaning that 100 shares are included in each lot, or in odd lots composed of varying numbers and types of securities.


A public sale may also be the means of selling off other types of assets, such as personal collections, furnishings, and even jewelry. With this application, the process may follow an auction format, allowing attendees to bid on the items offered as part of the sale. A different approach involves the setting of a firm price for each item presented at the event, allowing the public to inspect and choose which items they wish to purchase at those posted prices.

Planning a public sale involves securing a physical location for the event to take place, as well as complying with any regulations that apply in the jurisdiction where the sale will take place. Depending on the type of items offered at the sale, the seller may be required to purchase certain licenses or permits in order to hold the event. Publicizing the public sale through the local media will often help to increase attendance and enhance the potential to dispose of all the items offered.



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