Market Insights: The true dynamics of a live auction

February 5, 2021 | Looking at a red-hot market and our position on in-lane and online auctions.

Stating the obvious to anyone who has bought or sold a car lately, the market is hot. Both Seattle and Spokane experienced 80% sales this week. This is something we have seldom seen during the past 40 years. A rare exception occurred last July and August as we emerged from the pandemic shutdown with new car shortages and fresh government stimulus money igniting the market. What we’re seeing now seems like a repeat in almost every respect.  The one big difference between now and then is the lack of pent-up supply we all had because of the abrupt shutdown. Those stockpiles are long gone, and things are going to get tight in the coming weeks and months.

Our core auctions and digital platforms are holding up well under the strain of national and regional sinking supply. We are fortunate to have strong relationships with committed consignors feeding us inventory every week. They are working hard to fill the demand and take advantage of the market. Many of the wholesalers from north of the border are really reaching high to source inventory—Prices are high, and they will get higher. It is the reality of this imbalance we all must work through. Patience, hard work, and fortitude will pay off in sourcing the inventory you need.

I’d like to address the subject of in-lane vs online selling and our position on it.

2020 was quite a journey for everyone. Just like all of you in Washington State, DAA was abruptly shut down last March. When we reopened in May, we were forced to operate 100% digitally. I thought I’d never say it but thank God for the internet! We evolved our processes, redeployed resources, and in many respects reinvented our business. All of this happened under the premise that it would be short-lived, and we would soon be back to normal. Well, here we are, and things are still not “normal.”

I am an auction guy and an auctioneer; the auction lanes have been my life. Most importantly, I feel like I know what the true dynamics of a live auction are. With buyers standing toe to toe and sellers witnessing the process, it is simply the best dynamic. I also believe that a dramatically watered-down hybrid live auction with limited access to cars, social distancing, limited inventory, and minimal buyer attendance or interaction is not a good solution. Long story short: when we can all be in the lanes facilitating an unrestricted, dynamic auction – doing what we all love to do – we will do it. Until then, we firmly believe that what we are doing is the best way to navigate what we hope are the last few months of this pandemic.

Looking forward, DAA Northwest’s 2021 Rock & Roll sale is scheduled for AUGUST 25th & 26th, 2021!  I hope and pray we will all be together rubbing elbows 6 inches apart and doing what we all love to do.

Bob McConkey