Homes under the hammer: will we see more properties go to auction?


The UK’s largest residential property auction company, Auction House, saw more sales in October than during any month in the past 10 years, with 486 properties sold.

A total of 626 lots were offered for auction, meaning the firm saw a 74.8% success rate and raised £56.7m. They expect more than 800 lots to go under the hammer in November and December.

Founding director Roger Lake described the results as “exceptional”, adding: “We saw entries boosted by more investment landlords slimming their portfolios to reduce borrowings. Also, more private sellers are using our auction rooms to achieve a speedy sale, rather than get stuck in slow moving chains and suffer cancelled transactions.

“Our latest results mark an impressive achievement in a market place where there is a shortage of stock and some reticence amongst investors…There is some regional variation showing through – with our northern rooms particularly busy, and those in the southern half of the country more challenged.”

High-end lots

With some top-level properties struggling to sell, partly due to the high taxes involved, more sellers are looking to auctions as a way of getting their property off the market.

One luxury estate agent, Fine and Country, has decided to start offering sellers the option of putting their homes up at auction across the UK from next year.

The estate agent saw success with its first auction property before the full roll-out, which sold last week for £1.56m – it had 21 viewings, 34 bids, and went for 80% higher than its starting price.

David Lindley, chief executive of Fine & Country, said: “The modern method of auction is no longer reserved for homes at the bottom end of the market.”

He added: “Some of our sellers need to move quickly, so Fine & Country Auctions is a great option for them. For others, selling at auction can achieve a price higher than they expected. It is certainly a great option to give to our clients.”

Opportunities for entrepreneurs

At the other end of the spectrum, in Plymouth, the ‘Empty Homes Plym‘ campaign has been set up to encourage entrepreneurs and investors to bring derelict buildings back into use.

The scheme helps the owners of empty homes to put them up for auction – if a property has been unoccupied for longer than six months, the council offers to host an open viewing for free, and invites a list of potential buyers to submit sealed bids.

Local couple Sophie Morbey and Craig Lewis are one of the first to take advantage of the campaign, snapping up a bargain three-bedroom house in Milehouse at auction, which had been empty for 14 years. They plan to spend around £40,000 doing it up over the next three months.

They hope to build a “property empire” from derelict houses in the area, and have set up a property development company.

Sophie said: “We want to help decrease the number of empty homes and home as many people from off the streets as possible.”

It is thought there are around 750 abandoned properties across the city. Councillor Steve Ricketts said: “Although we will take enforcement action where necessary, it is always much better if we can work with the empty home owner to find a solution.”

derelict house

Empty homes scandal

Earlier this year, figures revealed that more than 200,000 homes across had been empty for more than six months in 2016, worth a total of £43bn.

With a national housing shortage one of the top priorities on Theresa May’s agenda at the moment, the scheme set up in Plymouth could be replicated across the country to get more empty homes back into use.

Newcastle City Council was recently awarded £675,000 worth of grants for owners of empty properties to get them back into occupation, and several areas of Scotland are looking to follow suit with similar schemes.

In London, there were around 19,845 properties sitting empty, amounting to £9.4bn, followed by Birmingham, Bradford and Liverpool at the top of the list.

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Homes under the hammer: will we see more properties go to auction?


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