Q. Is selling at auction a realistic option?
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A. That rather depends on what you are selling. For instance, auction can often be used to advantage in the case of unusual or “non-standard” properties, where their very uniqueness makes it much more difficult to arrive at an accurate market valuation in the usual way.
Since completion normally follows within 28 days, auctions are also particularly suitable when speed is more important than price: for example, where the proceeds of an executor’s sale are due to be shared between so many beneficiaries that any monetary advantage that might be gained from going down the conventional private treaty route simply isn’t worth the wait.
Similarly, distressed sellers, people forced to sell because of divorce, mortgage arrears or whatever, would also be well advised to consider auction - particularly in preference to those companies that generously offer to buy your home for cash, but at a discount of anything up to 50%! By contrast, a good auctioneer ought to achieve a sale within 15-20% of market value – and you always have the reserve price as your safety net.
Generally speaking, however, auctions tend to be where people go for bargains. As a result, a roomful of canny investors and assorted bargain-hunters probably isn’t the place to go to get the best price for your typical, well-maintained three-bed semi. That’s not why they’re there.
Even in the current market, private treaty therefore remains the best way to sell mainstream properties. If your home fails to attract any serious offers that way, then switching to auction won’t help either, because you’re probably asking too much for it in the first place.
Having said all of that, if you genuinely want to look at all the options, then by all means ask the advice of a reputable agent who specialises in auctions. If they feel you would be better off going down the traditional route, they’ll tell you – after all, it’s not in their interest to be left with a lot of unsold properties that failed to reach their reserve price. If, on the other hand, they feel your home could benefit from the auction treatment, then they will help you all the way – and you might be very pleasantly surprised by the result!