Property Auctions - Record figures prove physical auctions obsolete?

by Luke Betts

It’s easily to believe that every sector of business is shrinking due to yet another lockdown, especially during the first month of the year. But the housing market just continues to flourish, with several auction houses experiencing record numbers in January 2021. Potentially nailing the coffin shut on physical auctions forever.

In their first auction of the year, SDL Property Auctions saw more than 2,000 people registered to bid on around 180 properties. This figure is a stark increase of interest, 69% higher than they’ve ever previously recorded (June 2020).

Andrew Parker, Managing Director & Auctioneer at SDL Property Auctions was on the live-streamed rostrum that day and had this to say:

“It was certainly a fabulous start to the year as we illustrated once again that we’re keeping the market moving. Lockdown is no barrier to our fast, certain, hassle-free and above all, safe method of buying and selling properties.”

Auction House London saw their best January to date this year, selling 61 properties for £6.1 million (creating a nice round average of £100,000 per sale). Following on from the last 3 months which topped the previous year’s figures.

Many believe the current surge in demand for property is all because of to the stamp duty holiday, the end date of which is fast approaching (31st March). Whilst this definitely has some bearing on demand, it’s the adaptation of the auction houses that should be attributed to their success. Roger Lake, Founding Director at Auction House London explains:

“The lead time between entering and exchanging contracts is now down to just three weeks at auction, compared to what can be longer than three months by private treaty. We are running more regular events to meet the needs of our sellers. We are selling more lots prior to auction when our vendors prefer it and we are able to tie-up more post-auction sales too. Together with selling on the day, the outcome is a noticeably higher success rate.”

It has already been confirmed that Clive Emson Auctioneers have made the switch to online only auctions for the rest of the year, with their entire 2022 programme also under review - With their Managing Director James Emson stating that: 

“Even if restrictions are lifted in the next 6 to 9 months, with the demographics of attendees being from 18 to 90, it would be putting too many people at risk.”

Safety is the primary factor here, but from an ecological perspective having no physical auctions will be greatly beneficial. There’s no longer a need for thousands of catalogues to be printed, saving a huge amount of paper and ink. Staff and buyers don’t have to travel from miles around to auctions throughout the year either, reducing CO₂ emissions. Consider these reductions for every auction across the UK and that’s a real significant impact being made.

So is there actually a need for physical property auctions in the future?

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