The UK’s biggest property auctioneer is considering whether to bring its sales back into the auction room in the near future.
Managing director Jeremy Prior says that any decision to move away from either livestream or online sales – which have been the only method of buying and selling through the group during the pandemic – will have to be carefully considered.
He explains: “Livestream sales have been spectacularly successful for us – even more so than we could ever have imagined. Not only have our success rates gone up, but we are seeing three to four times the number of people engaging with our auctions as we did when sales were held in the room, both in terms of registered bidders and others simply interested in watching and experiencing the excitement of the auction process.
“Many more younger people have become involved whilst the numbers of our regular customer-base have remained unchanged.”
Auction House analysis indicates that there has been a 10 per cent increase in the engagement of 18–24-year-olds with its sales, and a five per cent increase in the 25-34 age category during the pandemic, whilst the engagement by those aged over 65 has stayed exactly the same.
Prior adds: “We need to take care not to disrupt this new demographic won over the course of the Covid crisis – and there’s a risk that a return to room only auctions might do just that.
“Livestream auctions have enabled us to attract bidders to sales from all over the world during the past 18 months – including successful bids from Hong Kong, America and Greece.
“We must remember that from the public’s perspective, there is still a reluctance to meet in large numbers unless absolutely necessary – particularly when bidders pre- pandemic often brought members of their family to the room, so might not want to expose them to what they perceive is a greater, and unnecessary risk.
“The power of video tours has been phenomenal, with many of our buyers bidding on the strength of the video alone.”
During August, a traditionally quiet month, Auction House sold 69 properties from 88 offered – a success rate of 78.4 per cent, raising £10.93m.
Prior continues: “A further point we have to consider is the speed of our sales. Pre-Covid, auction lots were running at between 20 or 30 lots an hour. We’re now down to something like 10-15 lots an hour.
“So, if we were to return to the room in a ‘hybrid’ format, we would need to take account of the fact that sales can now take up to twice as long to complete.”