Auctions continue to dominate the Irish property market, both residential and commercial, and this week was no different. As the auction giant Allsop Space prepared to kick off their 12th Irish, multi-lot event last Thursday, protestors hijacked proceedings. There has been plenty of reporting on the protests since Thursday, with various versions of what happened and why. As someone who was in attendance at The Shelbourne, I can only say that I was shocked, not by the making of a protest but by the levels of aggression, misinformation and misdirected anger that circulated generally. Every person has the right to have their voice heard, but aggression and racism is never okay. Regular attendees will be used to seeing the former owners of some properties, usually commercial premises that housed family businesses, staging a protest outside of the hotel or occasionally within the room. The protestor is generally given a moment to say their piece before the auction of the property continues. Sometimes this affects bidding and sometimes it does not. What was different about Thursday’s protests, is that the protestors were largely unrelated to the properties under the hammer – even the contributing banks were not the real target of the protestors wrath.
It is not a coincidence that this happened a week after the release of further damning Anglo tapes. In fact, the main protestor, later confirmed that The Shelbourne had not been the intended venue, rather, it was conveniently en-route from their initial meeting point at the former Anglo Headquarters to their intended destination, Dàil Eireann. What I witnessed was not a genuine protest of the Allsop Auction but an act of opportunistic thuggery.
The untold story from this debacle is that a large number of private sellers had put their properties into that auction because they needed to sell their property. What the ‘protestors ’ though I feel that word is somewhat inappropriate in this context – did pushed more struggling property owners into further distress. I was asked several times if I thought that this spelled the end for these multi-lot auctions, which feature some receiver stock. The short answer is ‘No’; while demand exists (and it certainly does), the auction vehicle will exist and it looks like Allsop Space will continue to lead the charge.
Another auction house making waves is IAM-SOLD Property Auctions, which launched into the Irish market earlier this year. The company effectively becomes an outsourced auction department for independent estate agencies all over Ireland. The currently hold on-line auctions for approximately 30 offices and that number is growing.
IAM-SOLD bring a completely new concept to property sales with an online auction system similar to Ebay. Once a purchaser has viewed the property they can place a bid through the estate agent or register online on www.iam-sold.ie. The bids are then made visible on the online auction system making the process completely transparent to all parties, which is completely unique to the Irish market. The online auction normally runs for 45 days and the highest bidder at the end of the period secures the property, providing the reserve is met. The properties can also go forward to the public auction events which are the Leinster Property Auction, Munster Property Auction, Connacht Property Auction & Ulster Property Auction.
This allows the vendor the security and time benefits of the auction process, not to mention competitive bids, while affording buyers a greater degree of flexibility with without the risks generally associated with buying property at auction. Both benefit from the absolute transparency that the open and recorded bidding provides on-line. Regardless of whether the bid is entered on-line or through the estate agents directly, each bid is recorded and easily accessed via the auction website. This hybrid of auction and private treaty sales will particularly appeal to mortgaged home-buyers, who have found the risks of buying through auction prohibitive.
Director of IAM-SOLD, Patrick Folan stated; “there’s no question that auction was always a quick and transparent method of sale. However there are several difficulties for buyers due to the rigid timescales of traditional auction meaning the majority of buyer’s were cash purchasers. With our more flexible Modern Method of Auction, we marry the advantages of both auction and private treaty. We provide a secure sale with fixed time scales of 28 days for exchange and a further 28 days for completion allowing buyers necessary time to make mortgage arrangements and organise the move”.
While new to the Irish market, this has already proven extremely successful across the Irish Sea. IAM-SOLD are the fastest growing auction company in the UK with over 1200 properties sold in 2012 and on target for 2000 sales this year. Traditional auctions are pro-seller and, by extension, anti-buyer. This modern method of auction certainly solves some of the issues we have been seeing with both private treaty and auction and gives estate agents across Ireland a new route to sale which is attractive to both vendors and buyers.