Auction House considering returning to in-person auctions

Auction House is weighing up whether to bring back in-person auctions, despite its livestream auctions taking off during the pandemic.

Whether auctions return in-person will be made on a region-by-region basis, as managing director Jeremy Prior spoke bullishly about the success of holding auctions virtually.

He said: “The number of lots entered into our September auctions is up year-on-year and as far as a return to the room is concerned, what’s right for one of our salesrooms might not be right for all.

“So, ultimately, this is a decision we will make on a region-by-region basis.”

Prior added: “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.”

There’s been a 10% rise in engagement of 18-24 year olds as well as a 5% increase in the 25-34 category, suggesting that holding auctions virtually has helped bring in new customers.

Similarly there’s been successful bids from oversea from the likes of Hong Kong, USA and Greece.

Prior went on to say that the speed of sales is another factor to account for.

Before covid auction lots ran between 20 or 30 lots per hour, but that’s now fallen to 10 to 15.

This means that, if auctions return to rooms in a hybrid format, Auction House would need to take into account that sales can take twice as long to complete.

Prior said: “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.”

In August Auction House sold 69 properties from 88 offered.

The firm has now sold 2,173 properties from 2,625 offered, a success rate of 82.8%.

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