When Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the Governor-General's residence – officially starting the election campaign – hundreds of real estate agents with auctions booked for 18 May 2019 faced a tough decision.
David Holmes, Managing Director of Metro Auctions, says those agents had three options: panic, postpone or proceed.
"Agents with auctions booked on election day can panic (which commonly leads to cancellation), postpone the auction or stick to their plan," he says.
"Even if an agent has a hotline to The Lodge, an impassioned plea to the PM to push the election back a week wouldn't have held much sway. So if agents weren't keen on holding their auction on 18 May, it’s safe to say their auction – not the election – has been the event that shifts."
Holmes says postponing the auction by a week or two isn't the end of the world, and Paul Millett, Auctioneer and Auction Manager at Cooley Auctions, agrees.
"The cost of an overlay sticker is not that much," he says. "So postponing did remain a genuine option, and was what most agents chose to do."
Stick to the plan
While postponing was a viable option, Holmes says agents who stuck to their sales plan and are proceeding with their election day auctions made a good choice.
"At the 2016 Federal poll, 31 per cent of votes were lodged before election day," he says. "Pre-poll voting is exceptionally popular. Its representation has more than doubled since 2004 and will no doubt increase again in 2019. So, come election day, one in three bidders/interested onlookers will have already cast their vote.
"It’s definitely more time-consuming getting a station-wagon full of kids, half-time oranges, water bottles, sports tape, shin guards and changes of clothes to junior soccer on a Saturday morning than ducking to the nearest polling booth.”
Remaining relevant through election hype
Millet says his team is conducting nine auctions across Sydney on election day.
"While this is a dramatic reduction compared to normal Saturday auction volumes, the agents for these properties are expecting to see increased crowd sizes and buyer activity," he says.
Echoing Millet, Holmes says agents with an effective sales campaign can hold election day auctions that are equally as successful as on any other day.
"On their own, agents can't determine who’ll reside at The Lodge after the election," he says. "But in sticking to the auction process – buyer engagement, soliciting pre-auction offers, effective marketing and so forth – they can change who owns the property they’ve taken to auction that same day."