Most fairgoers have little awareness of the Junior Livestock Auction that occurs Thursday nights of every fair. But encapsulated in that short two hour time, memories for a lifetime are made for all the youngsters who participate; many of whom have moms and dads and grandparents who participated before them. Not only memories but also all the struggle and discipline that go with raising a steer, pig, or lamb for months come into play that evening. And Jerry and David Helmer and Brian Braun also are a part of those memories and that special time. AS VOLUNTEER auctioneers, Braun and Helmer have handled the Junior Livestock Auction for the last 12 years; just one of a host of charitable events that the company takes part in including scout auctions, church fund raisers, Knights of Columbus and American Cancer Society events, Junior League, Hos-pice of Washtenaw, Habitat for Humanity among others.
The firm has held charity auctions for Chelsea Hospital and Pioneer High School’s football team for many years, Helmer said. Perhaps not so surprisingly, given that the area has become less of an agricultural region, it is the only livestock auction Braun and Helmer participates in during the year. The bulk of the company’s activities involve estate and real estate auctions. Not that the trio are strangers to animal husbandry. David Helmer raised pigs on Jerry’s farm as a schoolboy. And Braun also was involved in 4-H for some nine years. “I remember a bunch of us kids would drive around Saline in my dad’s pick up truck just before the Junior Livestock Auction,” David recalls. “We would stop at different businesses and commercial concerns in town to invite local community leaders to attend and bid during the auction.”So marketing came early to the Helmers.
Jerry started the auction business with Lloyd Braun, Brian’s dad, in 1971. The elder Braun died in 1999. You could argue David Helmer and Brian were born into the business and therefore their paths were set for them. But after speaking with them, you soon detect that they love the business and would choose no other.”This is a really exciting job and truly, its something different every day, never a routine,” he said. “You are your own boss and you get to see a lot of unique things but you are very busy. We do upwards of 140 auctions a year and you had a day of setup for each auction so you have at least 240 days of intensive activity.” Braun said that there are times when the trio works three or four weeks straight, seven days a week. In addition to setting up and running an auction, there is advertising and other administrative chores to perform.Jerry, David and Brian all recently received accreditation in Idaho from the Academy of Auctioneers of Real Estate and belong to the Michigan State Auctioneers Association as well other state and national organizations.
FROM THE very beginning, Braun and Helmer have handled real estate auctions. David is the first to admit that the company has had to overcome popular stereotypes that only “distressed” real estate is sold at auction.Increasingly, the company is the first choice of homeowners needing to sell their homes.”Selling a home at auction is not for distressed properties. Very few auction sales are of distressed homes. “There are several distinct advantages for owners to have their homes sold at auction. An auction creates a competitive environment in which the sale price can move up since potential buyers are competing together at one place and time. “In such an environment, it is easier for sellers to require a sales contract without contingencies with the property sold as-is. Of course we comply fully with all legal requirements including seller disclosures. “Nothing is hidden. If a house needs its electrical wiring to be updated, then that should be considered in the bidding process. We find that bids really aren’t affected by conditions needing repair. And the seller doesn’t have to deal with paying to update the electrical wiring under a contingency on the sales contract on a house he or she is moving out of. “Most, if not all, sellers do not want to have to deal with repairs and updating on a property they are moving out of.
“We usually get an appraisal on the properties we auction and we are almost always within 10 percent of the appraisal. And all bidders are required to post a large earnest deposit so sellers can be assured that bidders are serious. Most buyers at an auction are pre-approved for financing.” Helmer adds that an auction in a neighborhood is an “event” and generates interest of its own accord. “We post signs a month before stating that an auction for the property will be held at a certain time and day. People tend to take notice; it creates a sense of urgency. “We have had people attend an auction who were not even in the market for a house but saw the signs and liked the property.” Helmer adds auctions are advantageous to buyers as well. “All buyers have a fair chance to get the property at a price they are willing to pay. “At an auction, we bring together a willing buyer and seller in a competitive environment. You get a final result on the spot and the transaction is concluded quickly and simply without contingencies or counter offers. We find that there is much to like about the auction process for both sides to the transaction,” Helmer concluded.