Rapid modernisation boosts potential of online property auctions

Buying a property at an auction in Britain used to be regarded as a risky business but the whole process is now very much in the 21st century, having undergone a rapid modernisation.

Digital innovation means that auctions are no longer a last resort with agents able to upload details of properties and consumers able move into action with a flick of their smartphone.

One of the latest to enter the marketplace is Lets Bid which uses a model where a network of vetted professional estate and letting agents list properties that are available to buy or to let across the UK. ‘In effect, we act like an estate agent’s virtual or remote auction department, enabling them to become an auctioneer overnight,’ said founder Milton Rodosthenous.

Buying at auction is already popular in places like the United States and Australia but has always had a kind of speculative reputation in the UK. But figures show that is changing.

The Essential Information Group compiles statistics for every auction house in the UK and its data for February 2018 shows there were 119 auctions offering 4,068 lots of which 3,096, or 76.1%, were sold to a value of £565 million. ‘The residential sector has gone from strength to strength,’ the report says.

With online cautions now becoming more popular it is likely that these figures will rise even more in the coming months and years. Rodosthenous believes that online auctions will add to the demand and give consumers more choice while vendors can reach out to more customers.

But he warns that transparency and accountability are essential as the sector grows. ‘Unlike others, our listings are controlled by the estate and letting agents to ensure the process from start to finish is transparent, accurate and professional. Our customers receive the very best in customer service and the experience for both tenants and buyers is our highest priority,’ he said.

One of the big attractions is that the auction process can be accessed easily by desktop, mobile and tablet devices and unlike traditional auctions there is usually more leeway in terms of deposits and completions. A 10% deposit is usually required on sales and completion can be up to around 20 days depending on the property.

‘The properties listed for sale or to rent are unique and the owners and estate agents will have different requirements for each. The customer together with the estate agent control the entire process,’ Rodosthenous explained.