Property auctions ‘struggle’ to balance online and in-person sales: Propertymark  


Property agents are still “struggling with the decision” to return to in-person auctions or to remain online since the end of the pandemic, a NAVA Propertymark survey shows.  

The three most common ways that homes are auctioned are online (which are not live), in-person (or ballroom) sales and live stream auctions, says the estate agents’ body in its first quarterly Auctions Barometer.  

It says: “Several members noted that they have not yet settled on a permanent method of holding their auctions since the end of the pandemic.   

“Online and livestream certainly have their advantages in terms of cost and inclusivity, but ballroom auctions still appear to be quite popular.”  

Viewing lots in person was the most popular way buyers prefer to assess a property, ahead of videos and still images, respectively.  

Overall, the study says, the biggest three issues facing property auctioneers are customers not paying after sales, low stock levels and customers not viewing before bidding.  

Auctioneers say the three largest groups of sellers they currently see are people with homes in need of modernisation, probate properties, and those in need of a quick sale. They add that they are least likely to see development site sellers.  

Auction organisers point out that the biggest objection they receive is properties failing to meet reserve and valuation prices.  

The report says: “The cause of this is clear – many sellers considering sale by auction will have come to this point after their property has been on the market for some time and failed to sell.   

“The most likely reason the property has failed to sell is because it is priced too high. It is, therefore, no surprise that sellers now considering an auction for a faster sale are upset by the realisation the property is not worth the price they were clinging on to.”  

However, the survey points out that “auctioneers told us that the current economic downturn and the lengthening times taken to reach completion from sale agreed through private treaty are two of the biggest opportunities for auctioneers.   

“Both of these issues should bring more lots to the auction market.”  

NAVA Propertymark chair Trevor Palethorpe says the study “shows members are struggling with the decision to return to in-person auctions or to remain online.   

“The shift to virtual auctions has certainly increased access, however, it comes with its own issues, such as the detailed viewing of lots.   

“Ultimately, each auctioneer will decide what is best for their customers and company to future-proof the sector.”  

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