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What to Expect if You’re Considering a Retirement Auction

As we move into the harvest season, a lot of farmers are asking, “Is this a good point to retire?”

“Everybody’s situation is different. But if you’re considering retirement, a big question is how to sell your land and equipment, so it’s a good time to learn what goes into a retirement auction. Timing is important, and a lot of things favor a 2022 auction. Prices on late-model, low-hour machinery have been really strong,” said Steffes representative Brad Olstad.

“We start by listening, because how else can we understand the farmer’s needs? So, we set a time to visit — preferably face to face. I want to know their story. Is this farmer first generation? Second? Even fourth? Who are the heirs, and where are they?” said Olstad.

A presale evaluation for tax planning is a priority for many. Some cases may call for a charitable remainder trust to minimize the immediate tax bite while providing future income for charities. Together with the seller, we also decide if a live or timed online auction will best meet the seller’s needs.

“By talking, and especially by listening, we get a good sense of the best way to meet the seller’s needs and expectations,” said Olstad.

Once the seller is ready, we set a date, preferably two months out, setting all the pieces into motion. One thing we don’t do is ask for a check for advertising. “Many auctioneers ask the seller to pay for the advertising budget up front, but we never do,” said Olstad.

The Steffes Group team springs into action, with the first set of photos for an initial promotional sale bill, followed by a more comprehensive set of photos for the auction listings.

“We use professional photographic equipment. And it’s noteworthy that we don’t manipulate images. If we get a bad photo, we go back and shoot it again. Bidders have to trust that they’re getting an accurate portrayal, including all angles, as well as hours, separator hours, condition of tires and other details,” he said.

The process is similar for land. “We get a full history on the land, including productivity, soil type and quality, tiling, wildlife easements and any other factors that are pertinent to the bidder making an informed decision,” said Olstad.

Our in-house designers create the sale bills and other advertising. After approval by the seller, we send them to a printer for printing and mailing and go live on We’re off and running!

We keep the seller informed along the way as we move toward a successful auction.

“The retirement sale is a really important decision affecting multiple generations. We’re committed to getting it right,” said Olstad.

If you are considering a retirement auction in the future, contact a Steffes Group Sales Representative near you at to discuss your options!

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