Traditional property auctions may never return after being scrapped during Covid, according to one top auctioneer, who says going virtual has led to many more people wanting to take part.

Director of Auction House London, Andrew Binstock (main picture), believes there is no real appetite to rush back – although that could change.

“Auctioneers see the current model as so much more effective and so much easier than the old model of bidding,” he tells LandlordZONE. “No one has yet worked out how you can have a ballroom auction with all the best bits of live-stream auction.”

With live-stream, bidders have to pre-register so an auction house knows what the bidding will be and can advise vendors to drop the reserve price or even withdraw a lot, saving everyone time.

“Previously you’d get 500 people turn up and no idea who was bidding,” he explains. “Now, everyone has got so used to doing in-depth analysis.

Vendors get a full report about the interest, while a buyer can sit in their pants and go on their laptop for a few minutes, rather than spend hours coming up to London, trying to park and then losing out on a bid.”

Stock volume has increased by 50% post-Covid and lots are up from 120 to 180 at each event.

Landlord exodus?

About half its properties are bought by cash buyers, probably professional investors, however, Binstock doesn’t believe landlords are off-loading their properties, just that there has been an increase in traders – those who buy a property and then sell it straight on through an auction.

Binstock admits that these dealers and traders would love to go back to how it was. “When a property went unsold they made a beeline for the contact desk to target the vendor when they were at their most vulnerable. Now, they have to call the office – that sense of immediacy has gone.”

Although the auction house has embraced the change, Binstock doesn’t believe another development, the Modern Method of Auction – a conditional sale where either party can renege on the deal – will take off in the capital. “Most people going to auctions want a certain sale,” he adds.

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