Wisconsin Auction Law

Wisconsin is a state in the upper Midwestern United States, bordered by Minnesota to the west; Iowa to the southwest; Illinois to the south; Lake Michigan to the east; Michigan to the northeast; and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd-largest state by total area and the 20th-most populous.

At the time of European contact, the area that is now Wisconsin was inhabited by Algonquian and Siouan nations. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many European settlers entered the state, many of whom emigrated from Germany and Scandinavia. Like neighboring Minnesota, the state remains a center of German American and Scandinavian American culture. The state is one of the nation’s leading dairy producers and is known as “America’s Dairyland”; it is particularly famous for its cheese. The state is also famous for its beer, particularly and historically in Milwaukee. Manufacturing (especially paper products), information technology, cranberries, ginseng, and tourism are also major contributors to the state’s economy.

What is an Auction? 

A  sale  transaction  conducted  by  means  of  oral  or  written  exchanges  between  an  auctioneer  and  prospective  purchasers of goods or real estate that consists of a series of invitations made by the auctioneer and culminate in the  acceptance by the auctioneer of the highest or most favorable offer made by one of the prospective purchasers.

What is an Auction Company? 

A  corporation,  partnership,  association  or  an  individual  (not  licensed  as  an  auctioneer)  that  manages  an  auction  or  that  has  primary  responsibility  for  handling  sales  proceeds,  down payments,  earnest  money  deposits  or  other  trust  funds received at an auction.  If the registrant is an individual, he or she may not call auctions.  If the person were to  do so, he or she would have to be registered as an auctioneer and, in that case, would not need to be registered as an  auction company.

What is an Auctioneer? 

An individual, at least 18 years old, who engages in, or who advertises or holds himself or herself out as engaging in,  the calling for and the recognition and acceptance of offers for the purchase of goods or real estate at an auction.

License Information

Pursuant to 2017 Wisconsin Act 278, beginning August 1, 2018, prior to submitting an application for a credential, an individual may apply to the Department for a determination of whether the individual would be disqualified from obtaining the credential due to his or her conviction record. To apply for a predetermination, please fill out Form 3085 and submit all required documentation specified on the form. Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 111.335, the offenses or kinds of offenses that may result in a refusal, bar, or termination of licensure are published under Additional Resources on the left side of this page.

Fee Reduction

Pursuant to 2017 Wisconsin Act 319, beginning August 1, 2018, an applicant for an initial credential may apply for a reduction of the initial credential fee that is equal to 10% of the initial fee. Qualification is based on the federal adjusted gross income being at or below 180% of the federal poverty guideline prescribed for the applicant’s family household size by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. To determine eligibility please visit the United States Department of Health and Human Services website prior to submitting Form 3217.​

Per Wis. Stat. § 440.08(2), the required renewal date for the Auctioneer credential is 12/14/even years.  Should you receive your initial credential in the months leading up to this date, you are still required to renew your license by the statutorily defined date.  

Note: Auctioneers must hold a current seller’s permit issued by the Department of Revenue, unless exempt. Please call the Department of Revenue at (608) 266‑2776 to obtain more information about the seller’s permit.

Exam Exemption Based on Reciprocity

Applicants with a current Auctioneer license (not an Apprentice Auctioneer license) in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, or Texas may request an exam exemption. See page i of application (Form #2077) for further details.

Temporary Permit

The Department may grant a temporary permit to applicants who apply to register by examination which makes them eligible to practice for 60 days. An additional $10.00 temporary permit fee is charged. The permit is not renewable and cannot be extended. Applicants who have not passed the examination before their temporary permits expire are not eligible to practice until they pass the exam and are registered. 

Sale By Auction

  1. In a sale by auction if goods are put up in lots each lot is the subject of a separate sale.
  2. A sale by auction is complete when the auctioneer so announces by the fall of the hammer or in other customary manner. Where a bid is made while the hammer is falling in acceptance of a prior bid the auctioneer may in the auctioneer’s discretion reopen the bidding or declare the goods sold under the bid on which the hammer was falling.
  3. Such a sale is with reserve unless the goods are in explicit terms put up without reserve. In an auction with reserve the auctioneer may withdraw the goods at any time until the auctioneer announces completion of the sale. In an auction without reserve, after the auctioneer calls for bids on an article or lot, that article or lot cannot be withdrawn unless no bid is made within a reasonable time. In either case a bidder may retract a bid until the auctioneer’s announcement of completion of the sale, but a bidder’s retraction does not revive any previous bid.
  4. If the auctioneer knowingly receives a bid on the seller’s behalf or the seller makes or procures such a bid, and notice has not been given that liberty for such bidding is reserved, the buyer may at the buyer’s option avoid the sale or take the goods at the price of the last good faith bid prior to the completion of the sale. This subsection shall not apply to any bid at a forced sale.

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