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So, there I was, lying in a hospital bed dreading the prospect of an invasive operation that will treat my failing voice. Voice, you will appreciate is an important tool for an Auctioneer, or indeed any property agent.

The routine is well established, pack a bag, arrive early, find the right car parking space, sign a lot of forms, and then change into a very fetching gown – not the type found too often on ASOS.

Before I know it, I am in the operating theatre and I am instantly recognised by the Anaesthetist – “George Walker, not the Allsop guy?” It turns out that my Anaesthetist was the proud owner of a vet surgery in Hereford and another shop which he had bought at an Allsop auction.

As I recovered over the next few days, I reflected on what could be learnt from this chance encounter.

We know that our market is largely made up of part time investors, just like my Anaesthetist, so it remains our job as auctioneers to listen to them and adapt to their ways of bidding. In a fast-paced technological age, how they bid and which platforms they use is quickly changing and the industry has had to be adept at adapting.

Since 2000 we have found buyers for £10 billion of secondary assets via email and the many ways of the web – along with a host of print advertising. In the last century, we used to print 16 tonnes of catalogues for every auction, alongside several more tonnes of legal packs. During this time, bidding largely took place in the auction room.

Now, our buyers can be anywhere in the world; they download legal packs online or place bids, either by phone, proxy or online, making it ever more convenient to investors like my Anaesthetist. In our first online only auction earlier this year, we learnt that two bidders were logged in from airport lounges, one of whom made a successful bid before he boarded his flight. He could have been in a queue for the number 14 bus or the recovery room of an operating theatre with an auctioneer – no matter, he bid for the asset and bought it unconditionally.

Last month, we sold £106m of assets from the Berkeley Hotel to a room full of potential buyers with around 200 phone bidders and a dozen registered online. At this auction we sold five assets to web-based buyers proving that the reach of the auction doesn’t stop at the hotel door. Clearly many buyers love the competitive bidding of the room.

In China, auction bidders could use their WeChat account and pay their deposits from their iPhone. Very soon, could our buyers place bids in this same way on WhatsApp? When this moment comes, auctioneers will need to be there, and we will.

Whilst the ongoing change in technology has helped to bring many more buyers to the table in the last 18 years, our job hasn’t changed; we must ensure that we extract best value for our clients. That is our duty.


Notes to editor

About Allsop auctions

Allsop run the largest property auction departments in Europe through two highly experienced residential and commercial teams and is the UK’s number one auction house by transactions. We offer a wide range of lots covering residential vacant and investment properties, ground rents, land and development opportunities and secondary commercial lots. A minimum of six commercial and seven residential sales are held every year. Visit: https://www.allsop.co.uk/our-services/auctions/selling-at-auction/