Legal-Ease: New Ohio auctioneer licensing law

Traditionally, becoming an auctioneer in Ohio was a lengthy process that included education requirements, a verbal examination and a time period of acting as an apprentice auctioneer under an already licensed auctioneer. That traditional process prepared auctioneers for the typical, out loud and in-person auctions that have traditionally been what we think of when we think of auctions.

Over the last several years, the internet has created environments where some traditional, live auctions are being replaced by online auctions facilitated here in Ohio and elsewhere. Nevertheless, live, in-person auctions remain popular.

Earlier this month, Ohio law changed to adapt to the changing contexts of auctions. The law clarifies that almost anyone who acts as an auctioneer in Ohio must have an auctioneer’s license. However, there are a few categories of professionals who do not need an auctioneering license, and certain auctions can be conducted by non-licensed individuals.

Auctions sponsored by legitimate charitable, religious or civic organizations that are 501(c) entities can be conducted by non-licensed people. An owner of real estate or personal items can auction those items as long as the items to be auctioned were not purchased for purposes of resale. Auctions overseen by governments — like Sheriff’s sales — or courts — like sales within real estate partition lawsuits — can be conducted by non-licensed individuals.

For those who need an auctioneer’s license, the process of becoming an auctioneer has been simplified.

Importantly, although not a new requirement, it remains the law that people convicted of felonies of any type and misdemeanors involving fraud or theft are not eligible to hold auctioneer’s licenses.

Additionally, there are five primary requirements to acquire an auctioneer’s license.

First, an applicant must be at least 18 years of age.

Second, an applicant must have successfully completed a course of study on auctioneering at an institution that is approved by the Ohio Auctioneers Commission.

Third, an applicant must have a general and accurate knowledge of the following subject matters involving auctions in Ohio and those subject matters’ effects on auctioneering in Ohio. Those subject matters include the Ohio Revised Code, the auction profession, the principles involved in conducting an auction and all local and federal laws regarding the auctioneering profession.

Fourth, an applicant must have insurance (a bond) or committed savings (through an irrevocable letter of credit) of at least $25,000 at the time of application and for the first three years following licensing or the first three years following reinstatement or reactivation of a license that lapsed for a variety of reasons.

Fifth, an applicant must pass a written examination. The examination is now administered monthly throughout the year.

Notably, to sell real estate through an auction in Ohio, the auctioneer must also have a real estate broker or real estate salesperson’s license.

Those with auctioneer’s licenses must participate in eight hours of continuing education every two years and can renew their licenses every two years once the continuing education requirements are met and upon confirmation that the licensee did not violate any laws governing auctioneers.

Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.