It is 2028 and its auction day. I’m on my way to the auction venue and in the back of my driverless car, I am checking my emails for any overnight updates on my smartphone. Artificial intelligence and big data may have brought about significant changes in property auctions over the last ten years, but I still have the same pre-auction butterflies and excitement that I have always had.
Technology has helped to advance many aspects of the sector and we have seen auction houses embrace these changes, enhancing the auction experience for our buyers and vendors, whilst streamlining processes for auction teams. Ballroom auctions are as popular as they have always been, albeit with fewer peppered throughout the year, alongside a cycle of online-only auctions.
In fact, artificial intelligence is one of the reasons why we are expecting a particularly full auction room today. Using data analytics and bots, we have been able to better identify and target potential buyers. This data has enabled us to tailor our digital marketing campaigns and ensure we are providing potential buyers with the information they need and details on properties that are most likely to be of interest to them.
For many years, buyers have begun their property search online and the information they would find often informed their journey and, sometimes, their purchasing decision. Technology has helped us to better inform our customers; photographs are complemented with online virtual tours, taking customers beyond the limitations of stills and bringing properties to life. Our Allsop chatbots are also on hand around-the-clock to answer questions and provide further information immediately, speeding up the process and ensuring no query goes unanswered.
The auction catalogue is still integral to our marketing campaigns, but as technology has evolved, so too have our brochures. Our catalogues, which are now almost always read on a tablet rather than in print, are real-time brochures, automatically updated with the latest buyer information.
Accurate pricing has always been integral to the success of auctions; lots priced too high can fail to generate good competition on the day to reach the best price. Artificial intelligence now supports our valuation and auction teams by analysing market trends and predicting future outcomes. This intelligence is based on real-time data and enables us to provide a remarkably accurate market valuation. Automated market analysis means that any shifts in the market and in buyer interest (which can now all be measured effectively and efficiently online) during the auction cycle means guide prices can be updated throughout the process.
The use of drones and proptech enables the auction and valuation teams to visit a site remotely to assess each property offered, from its condition to its floorplans and size. Whilst we continue to recommend that buyers conduct their due diligence and commission their own survey of the property, AI is able to detect structural problems that may have a bearing on the value of the property and therefore its guide. It’s this information that improves advice pre-auction and the outcome on the day.
As my car pulls up outside the hotel, I know buyers in the auction room will be as exhilarated to be here as I am. The atmosphere and buzz of the room, combined with the familiar sound of the fall of the hammer after a hard-fought round of bidding, remains the lifeblood of auctions. Despite the huge success of online-only auctions, it is the human side of property auctions of old that vendors and buyers still seek.