Auctioneer Bill Sheridan

For motivated sellers—including lenders looking to unload foreclosed homes—auctions are an increasingly popular way to get property sold fast, sometimes in a matter of minutes. But as simple as auctions may seem on the day of the sale, they require a lot of careful preparation. Just ask Bill Sheridan, owner of Sheridan Realty & Auction Co. in Mason, Mich. In 2008, Sheridan handled more than 60 auctions, and he expects an even higher volume this year as home owners leave Michigan due to substantial job losses. From creating a strategic ad campaign to setting the price and ensuring a good auction-day turnout, he says the auction process is far more involved than most people realize. “I open the bidding at a price I think is fair market value,” he says. “If you start an auction at $50,000

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