Defining Professionalism in the Auction Industry
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Submitted by: Patrick Morgan, Legislative Committee Chair
Another week has passed and Governor Wolf has moved more counties into his yellow phase reopening plan. There are now 37 in yellow phase with 12 more opening on Friday, May 22nd. That will leave 18 remaining in the red phase.
For those that are now or will be in Yellow Phase, this transition leaves a lot of questions of what is allowed and what isn’t. Please follow this link to view the Governor’s three phase guidance.
We have received many inquiries regarding live auctions. Under the red phase, the guidance states “Large Gatherings Prohibited”, which obviously eliminates the live auction process. Under Yellow Phase the guidance states “Large Gatherings of more than 25 Prohibited”. There is a difference of thought among attorneys of whether an Auctioneer can conduct a live real estate auction with no more than 25 people, including staff and seller. I encourage you to contact your chosen real estate attorney for further guidance.
The Green Phase under the Governor’s plan states “Aggressive Mitigation Lifted. All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines”. It appears that we will need to be in the Green Phase before any live auctions other than Agriculture Based Livestock, Equipment, Feed auctions could take place.
So what about the counties that are bucking the Governor’s Order and opening up under yellow, and soon enough may also want to move their counties to green ahead of the Governor’s order? Last week we included a summary about the potential license consequences an auctioneer may face if choosing to participate in this “civil disobedience”. While it might sound cool or patriotic to some, or it might sound careless and selfish to others, the fact remains, our license is state issued, not county. I received the following blog from the Pa Association of Realtors and believe this could also apply to Auctioneers. It is written by James Goldsmith, an attorney with Mette, Evans & Woodside and serves as general counsel to PAR. In discussion with George Michak, he agreed there are many parallels and could provide a good perspective for our members as well.
Obviously the complexity of navigating the legal system is best answered in intentional discussion with the attorney that’ll be defending you if you are one of the auctioneers that may face enforcement and violation.
Another hot topic is liability. Greg Magnus of E. R. Munro & Company (a valued PAA sponsor) provided this blog by Chris Boggs titled “Is the Insurance Policy Affected if the Business Opens Against a Governor’s Orders: The Facts About Supposed “Illegal Acts” Exclusions”. He is the Executive Director, Big I Virtual University of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.
And lastly, HB 2491. PAA Lobbyist Nick Kratz has been working closely with Rep. Mark Keller’s office, to provide as much information as possible to assist Rep. Keller when presenting his bill in a committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 19. PAA President Jeffery Pennington, Exec. Dir. Kim Douglass, and the Legislative Comm. fulfilled the request with a summary of suggested protocols to restart ALL auctions immediately. We also included a document titled “Best Practices for Auction Operations Amid COVID-19”.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT HB 2491 to return auctioneers back to Auction Action. Follow this link to find your legislator.
In closing, I would like to again clarify the purpose of the PAA’s Legislative Committee’s communications. We are NOT here as a governing body, restricting or mandating your decision to conduct or to postpone auctions. Our purpose is to educate and keep you informed of the legislative effort and legal ramifications of the current situation. It is up to you to decide whether to and/or how to operate. Bearing in mind, all decisions can have good, neutral, or bad consequences.
Thank you for your professionalism, patience, and constant support. Please fell free to contact me direct with any questions.
Legislative Committee Chair
This message has been approved by PAA President Jeffery Pennington