What is a Land Auction?

Malcolm Tatum

A land auction is a type of property auction where tracts of land are sold to the highest bidder. In some cases, the land sales are the result of some sort of foreclosure action. At other times, the live auction may be part of the process of settling an estate. Land auctions can be structured to allow the general public to participate as well as by invitation only.

A local courthouse might hold land auctions.
A local courthouse might hold land auctions.

When set up as a public auction, a land auction is often conducted by an auctioneer. Professionals of this type may work as freelancers, taking on auction projects when and as they choose. An auctioneer may also be connected with an auction house, and be assigned to conduct the auction by his or her employer. In both situations, the auctioneer usually works with the client to make sure the auction is announced to the general public in a timely manner, thus ensuring a good turnout of interested parties.

If the land auction is set up as a private event, an auctioneer may also help with the process of distributing the invitations and overseeing the registration process that will help ensure only invited parties do actually attend the live auction. Together with the client, the auction house team will identify and secure the location for the private auction and make any other arrangements necessary, such as seating for the guests.

When the land auction is conducted in order to sell property that has been foreclosed, the auction may take place on the site of the property, or at a location such as a courthouse. The process is relatively simple, with the auctioneer beginning the auction at the pre-arranged time. Next, the auctioneer offers a description of the property, often included details such as the amount of acreage, the general location of the property, and any other relevant facts that would be of interest to potential bidders. At that point, the auctioneer opens the bidding with a minimum bid. Those in attendance are then free to place their own bids, making sure to bid an amount that is slightly more than the previous bid.

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Once the bidding has slowed, the auctioneer may take steps to close the bidding. The process normally allows the bidders two more chances to outbid the current amount on the table. If no further bids are forthcoming, the bidding is formally closed. At this point, the auctioneer will declare the winner of the auction and invite the party to make plans for payment.

When the land auction is for settlement of an estate, the process is very similar. An auctioneer opens the bidding, keeps the process orderly and closes the bidding once all bids have been placed. Attorneys are usually on hand to handle receipt of payment and the formal transmission of the title to the new owner, upon verification of the validity of the payment.

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