Interpreting Auctioneer Chant and Using it to Your Benefit

The chant of an auctioneer is one of the most oft-parodied strains of the English language. auctioneer “can-I-get-a-two, got two here, two thousand, your outbid, how about fifty, can I get-a-two- fifty?” However, as you get started in the auction game, you are going to start getting very up close and personal with this rapid fire delivery, need to understand why it exists, and be able to decipher it so you don’t get caught up in the hubbub and overbid on a unit.

An auctioneer’s job entails a few things that are crucial to the facilitation of an auction.  For one, they speak rapidly in order to move the process along, ensuring that all of the units up for grabs that day are sold by the end of the auction day, keeping the facility owner’s happy and the crowds from growing restless.  Secondly, their mystical speech is designed to get bidders on their toes, to put pressure on them to keep the bids coming in.  Some even go to school to learn the best strategies for doing so.

One “auctioneer chant” is never identical to another.  It comes out differently depending on the auction’s region/local dialect or how much “filler” an auctioneer chooses to include in their spiel (which you will learn about below).

Luckily, a storage unit auction typically contains less of the advanced auctioneer idioms due to the fact that the auctioneer cannot share what is inside the unit with the bidders.  Also, they will rarely place a reserve price (a minimum amount the unit must go for), and are not often paid a commission of the overages between the delinquent rent and the winning bid, which more than half the time goes to the original tenant themselves.

As such, storage auctions are very straightforward compared to real estate or aggregate auctions.  There are just a few things you need to know to understand, interpret, and grow comfortable with auction speak.



1. Current Bid: The Current Bid is just as it sounds, the latest amount going that unless trumped will be the winning bid.  If someone says “yuppp” to “three hundred dollars,” the auctioneer will always say something like, “Now I have three/three hundred/three I have” directly after someone affirms that amount, either vocally or with a hand raise.

2. Asking Price: As the auctioneer drives the show along, he will denote his own “Asking Prices” to encourage bidders to go the next increment.  Instead of saying the “current bid” over and over again, he tries to solicit a raise in the current bid of anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars.  You will notice this number because it is accompanied the filler words “Can you give me (x amount),” or “does anybody have (x amount”) usually directly after vocalizing the current bid.  Together, they go something like this:

“Now I have fifty over here, fifty dollars (current bid). Can I get one hundred, one hundred dollars? (asking price).”

See, very simple in theory.  The only time it gets confusing is due to the speed of delivery along with the speed of the bidders responding, especially if it is in the silent form of hand raise.  You may not see it in a more jam packed bidding crowd.  That’s why more important to just listen to the auctioneer than to  focus on the competition.

3. Filler: The part of an auctioneers repertoire that doesn’t have to do with current bid or the asking price.  It is the stuff that amuses the crowds, solicits bidders, or adds flavor to the spell they are creating.  The filler is the stuff that confuses new comers the most, either because it is spoken so fast that it is incoherent or has encoded, colloquial meaning.

Some Tasty Filler You May Hear

Here’s some common things you may hear and what they mean in regular human speak.  Some of these aren’t that cryptic in meaning, but may be hard to understand as words because they are squeezed in at such a breakneck speaking pace by the auctioneer.


“New Interest” Spoken in a bidding war has been prominently between a few people and somewhere late in the process, someone else pops in a bid.  “New Interest” is a way of singling out the new gun-slinger, and hopefully inspire even more  interest for the crafty auctioneer. 

“Your bidding on the motor” Addressed at a single bidders low bid, it is to say that yourlow offer bid is way too low.  You may not hear this much at storage auctions considering that the contents and value of a unit are supposed to remain somewhat of a mystery, but if you do, it may be a great sign that there’s good stuff inside.  Unless the auctioneer is getting paid from the “overages” of that auction (the profit after the delinquent rent is met), he is rarely trying to flat out mislead you or “sell you something.”

“All in, All Done?” Some auctioneers will use this to indicate that they believe the bidding has pretty much run its course on the unit and they are about to begin the countdown.  You know the countdown: “Going, going, gone,” or “going once, going twice, sold.”

If you hear “all in, all done” and have not reached your own personal maximum bid (or, as one of our seasoned subscribers recommends, are very interested in the unit and have not reached 20 percent over your original maximum bid) now is a great time to shout out this number.  This will be more effective in silencing the competition than simply allowing the auctioneer to keep calling bids until your maximum limit is reached.

For more examples of interesting “fillers” that you may have heard but didn’t know it, check out this website.

For all you bidders, the most important thing is this is to listen for the numbers themselves, the current bid and the asking price, and not allow yourself to get caught up the auctioneers attempts to suck bids out of you.  Know your own maximum bid after first scanning and appraising a unit, and only exceed this by twenty percent if you are certain there is good, tangible value when bidding environment is staunch.

Fortunately for you, know you know more about auction talk than “Ringdadadingdadadoo.”

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