27 January 2022
By KIRSTEN CRAZE
Australia’s much loved spectator sport of auctions has taken a hit in recent years. Images of crowded front lawns and punters packed into lounge rooms were commonplace in the property media, but that all changed when COVID arrived down under.
As 2022 gets into full swing, it appears the auction landscape is getting back to a new kind of normal, albeit with plenty of pandemic-induced practices still at play.
Here is a forecast of what 2022 will look like under the hammer, according to two of REINSW’s seasoned auctioneers and members of the Auctioneers Chapter Committee - Chairperson Jesse Davidson and Deputy Chairperson Ricky Briggs.
Technology will keep improving
Ricky Briggs of Advantage Auction Group said since 2020 technology has had to race to catch up with unprecedented circumstances, but he believes it will continue to evolve.
“We’ll see hybrid auctions this year, which will be conducted live on site or in-rooms for people who wish to be there, while still allowing the opportunity for buyers to be elsewhere and submit their bids online,” he said.
According to Jesse Davidson of AuctionWorks, there is still room for improvement.
“A challenge for us this year is not that the technology doesn't work or isn’t being embraced, because it’s fantastic. The hurdle will be on site with the internet. What we learned last year was that some areas simply have dreadful connectivity; you don't even get a bar of reception on your phone. Without a great connect you can't upload the live stream or download the bids,” he explained.
“So, we’d ask agents to work out during their four-week campaign if the signal is poor then let us find an alternative arrangement.”
Mr Briggs added that preparation is key to a glitch-free auction.
“Make sure your settings and devices are all up to date. Initially there were some issues with different platforms struggling with the amount of traffic, however as we've grown throughout the COVID pandemic those problems are being ironed out,” he said.
“Online auctions are here to stay, there's no question about that. We know the software has far greater potential moving forward and I’m confident it will perform how we need it to for 2022 and beyond.”
Timing is everything
Putting the pandemic aside, Mr Briggs said selective scheduling will be paramount in 2022.
“It's going to be a bumpy six months. If we look at the calendar, there are some impacts we haven’t had for a while. Firstly, we’re going to see a later run in stock because the full spring supply has not come to market yet - owners have been holding out,” he said.
“There’s now talk of interest rate rises anywhere between February and November, so we'll have to wait and see in early February. For Asian-dominated markets the Lunar New Year isn’t until February 1 so any stock impacted by that is being pushed into February as a lot of people don’t want to make a move until after that period,” Mr Briggs explained.
“From there we've got Easter in the middle of April and two weeks after that, Anzac Day. Then there's talk of a Federal election in May, plus the June long weekend - and that's our first six months of 2022 done and dusted.”
Mr Davidson added that initial 2022 auction bookings were the highest he’d ever seen them, but agreed an election could throw a spanner in the works.
“Although there is leftover stock from late year, perhaps another reason we've got this early run is that agents are seeing an impending election and thinking things could effectively shut down for a month. It’s just what happens to real estate during elections, even if there are no property reforms on the table.”
Campaigns should be pandemic-proof
Property professionals who not only survived but thrived throughout 2020 and 2021 might feel brave enough to conquer any hurdle, but strategic planning is key to weathering storms ahead.
“In order to future-proof your auctions you’ll need to embrace the hybrid auction scenario, because it gives everyone flexibility,” Mr Briggs said, adding that auctioneers who haven’t already used virtual auctions need to get on board.
“If they’re not comfortable with online, they need to get comfortable. Learn what software to use, how to use it and dummy test,” he said.
Mr Davidson said agents and auctioneers should ensure they've got solid systems in place.
“Whether you're a solo agent or in a team, it's likely at some stage this year during a campaign that one of you will get COVID. Have systems in place allowing buyers to bid online if necessary, and realise the importance of a great team. This year teamwork is going to be integral to your business, especially in relation to how you can cover one another when people have to isolate,” he said.
“Last year we all thought that there was a slight chance someone close to us could catch the virus, but now we have such large case numbers each day in NSW. So, it’s a matter of saying ‘Mr or Mrs Vendor, before we sign an agreement, I want you to know how we're going to handle it.’”
Onsite (and in-room) auctions aren’t going anywhere
Even if crowded auction centres and overflowing front lawns might feel like a thing of the past, they will continue to be part of our property future.
“There’ll always be concerns that we can't draw upon emotion as much when an auction is happening over a technical platform, as opposed to actually being there in person. And whilst we can, we will continue to conduct auctions in person to make sure we capture every element of the sale aspect,” Mr Briggs said.
“We've seen a more progressive move towards the hybrid model but we'll still open up the auction centre and allow buyers to be present. And if not, we’ll give them the opportunity to go online.”
For now, the challenges of 2020 and 2021 appear to be behind the auction industry, said Mr Davidson.
“Given the amount of bookings we have so far, on site auctions will be very much off and away, which is encouraging. The big difference this year will be people’s hesitancy to be around groups. I know I want to be working in front of people, not away from them, but all in all I think it’s going to be a very good year,” Mr Davidson said.
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