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Is the in-person iron auction dead?

One of the first huge sales of the summer – and certainly one of the larger farm equipment consignment auctions of the year – is set to start tomorrow (June 25) lasting no less than two days. And reflecting the times we live in (dealing with COVID-19), the Sullivan Auctioneers No-Reserve Dealer & Farmer Auction will be held only online. A detailed listing of all sale items can be found at

This particular sale features over 1,100 items scheduled to sell online starting at 9:00 a.m. (CST) Thursday. “As is always the case with our sales, this is a no-reserve (no buy backs) auction,” says Dan Sullivan of Sullivan Auctioneers. “But as is now a standard of our auctions, we won’t charge buyers an internet premium.”

Some online-only auctions are charging buyers fees of 2% to 3% of the final sale price of the equipment they purchase.

The two-day Sullivan auction is typical of the kind of sale that firm has held for years with equipment gathered at the organization’s facilities located just east of Hamilton, Illinois. “Potential buyers can still come inspect the equipment prior to the auction. And we’ve certainly seen an increase in people inspecting equipment prior to the sale,” he observes. “But the auction is only online. Bidding is live, and we call the sale. It’s the best of both worlds, we believe.”

READ MORE: Ryan's Interesting Iron: The Tale of A $106,000 Peterbilt

Sullivan Auctioneers went to online-only equipment and farmland sales March 17 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. “Since then we’ve had over 50 sales online, and they have all been very successful,” Sullivan observes. “Actually, equipment is consistently bringing more money now than it would if those sales were held with bidders at the auction.”

$20 million online auction next week

An example of the popularity of online-only sales is reflected in a dealer inventory reduction auction Sullivan is putting on next Tuesday (June 30) for Sinclair Tractor (, a John Deere dealership based in Iowa. “To give you an idea of the size of some of these online sales, the Sinclair Tractor auction is putting approximately $20 million of equipment up for sale that day,” Sullivan adds.

The traditional auction, with bidders present at a sales location, isn’t necessarily dead, Sullivan contends. “But we have turned a corner here on how farm equipment will be sold at auction in the future. The online sale is here to stay.”

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holding off on buying and working with what I have
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