It will soon be spring thankfully. Storms with silly names will hopefully have passed and we can look forward to a bit of warmth and sunshine. In the auction room though, it seems that the climate has already changed.
Our February sale, was like no other we have experienced for some time. Bidders queued along the road outside The InterContinental Hotel in London’s Mayfair. The ballroom at the venue – which is vast and had earlier been partitioned to match the size of the anticipated crowd – had to be opened out to accommodate everyone comfortably. The start of the sale was delayed for half an hour to ensure that no one was excluded. It was reminiscent of our first sale in Dublin in 2011. That sale saw 82 lots offered to an overcrowded ballroom at The Shelborne Hotel at the depth of the Irish recession. Reserves were set at very modest levels and subject to disclosed maximum figures. Famously, the sale drew a large amount of money from under the mattresses of savvy investors who had been waiting for a day such as this. 81 of the 82 lots sold under the hammer with the final lot selling the following week. It was widely reported that we had marked the bottom of the property market in Ireland.
Although by no means as dramatic or significant as that Irish experience, there are notable parallels. There is now a clear indication that we are out of the woods in the UK. In the year that followed the first Dublin sale, buyers bought at prices that, whilst representing market value at the time, were later proved to be amazing deals. Every auction that followed entrenched confidence further and values steadily climbed.
Here in the UK we are entering a period of active trading and the conditions are positive. Interest rates remain low. Homes are in short supply. Rental values are robust. Mortgage lenders are competing for new business and offering favourable terms to occupiers and investors. There is a ‘back to business’ atmosphere out there. Although it may sound contradictory, now is a good time for both buying and selling.
Allsop is uniquely placed to exploit these conditions. The current list of voluntary subscribers to our online catalogue extends to 80,000 potential buyers worldwide. Our bespoke auction management system is now fully operational following two years of development and significant investment. Compulsory pre-registration of bidders now enhances the amount of information available to us pre-sale. The number of printed catalogues is substantially reduced to match the lighter demand prior to auction, whilst offering in room bidders a summary of properties on offer. Economies on print have allowed us to reallocate resources and concentrate on intelligent digital marketing. Our online catalogue and app now deliver extensive property and legal information.
Despite these developments, the auction room remains the primary focus and preferred method of bidding. Whilst online bidding may be growing in popularity, the property market is nowhere near the point at which other methods can safely be ditched in its favour. Allsop offers its clients easy access to a multi-channel auction market allowing remote bidders to participate using their preferred method – phone, proxy or online. All remote bidding is now managed in house on our new platform. The process is simple to use and allows for efficient analysis of the wider market place and informed reporting to clients. Put simply, improved competition delivers improved receipts.
The last two residential auctions held by Allsop have demonstrated that prices are improving. Prior to these sales, owners who had not had the urgency or confidence to sell were holding on to assets. Vendors from the public sector or those acting in a fiduciary capacity such as lenders, executors or receivers, made up a large part of our catalogues. Although that source of stock remains strong, the traders, investors, property companies and private individuals are now returning as sellers.
As the storm clouds of the past few years recede and the sun begins to shine on property again, it looks as though it’s safe to go out. Our 31 March sale is open for entries and is growing quickly in advance of the deadline for instructions. If you would like an appraisal of your property do please let us know. We shall be very happy to hear from you.
Notes to editor
Gary joined Allsop, in the Residential Auction team in 1987 and was invited to join the Partnership in 1991. The department is now the largest residential auction house in the UK and sells up to 2000 lots each year to a value of around £450 million.
Gary is vice chair of the RICS Auctioneering Group, a member of the RICS Auction Legal Review Group and a former member of the RICS Estate Agency Group. He is past chair of the RICS Agency Skills Panel and past chair of the ISVA Auctioneering committee.
Gary is the author of many articles in regular trade press, a frequent speaker at professional conferences and a regular charity auctioneer.
If you would like to get in touch with Gary, please contact him:
firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 7344 2619