A day in the life of a property auctioneer

"Theres nowhere to hide with auction no bidders equal no sale"

"Theres nowhere to hide with auction no bidders equal no sale" - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A modern property auctioneer can market properties from Wales to Watford from the comfort of his office, as Toby Limbrick, Director at Network Auctions, reveals...

Toby Limbrick, Network Auctions

Toby Limbrick, Network Auctions - Credit: Archant

I leave Hitchin at 7.30am for the drive to Watford - I could do it in my sleep and the car knows the way (been commuting to our offices for 23 years), Radio 4 and BBC 6 Music block out the traffic.

Next, I clear emails and plan my day. I still work with a job list, it’s the only way to stay on top of the workload and prioritise.

Right now I’m working towards our next catalogue launch, a busy time with a constant stream of people to advise and properties to appraise. The office is busy with phone calls from prospective sellers and buyers; some have no experience of auctions, others are experienced investors, the variety is challenging and interesting. Most of our clients are private individuals, first time auction sellers who for one reason or another have failed to sell their property on the open market and seek closure; the certainty and speed of an auction sale are very attractive to these clients.

I complete an online appraisal for a house in Kelloholm, Dumfriesshire. It’s a probate sale, the house is in fair condition but has failed to sell on the open market. 10 years ago I would have to employ an agent to inspect, take photos and report but the internet means I can do a full appraisal from my desk. I find the site plan and use it to locate the house on Google Maps then “walk” the street to assess the neighbourhood and the surrounding area. I look at the Scottish Land Registry to check sale prices in the street and the property portals show what’s available in the area. The house is on the market so I have a floor plan and photos; in Scotland the Home Information Report provides further detailed information which I read. I write the report and email it to the client – a three-bedroom freehold house for £28,000.

Next up a block of eight flats in central London - this is an exciting prospect. The recent stamp duty and tax restrictions on buy-to-let property have focused the attention of investors on blocks of six or more units. The prices are a stark contrast to the Kelloholm house - one bedroom flats here start at £350,000.

It’s a complex appraisal - there is planning permission to create two more flats so I calculate the cost of completing the build plus the re-sale values of the new flats and add this to the overall value. The flats are all let and once I’ve compared the rents to the current market it’s clear there is an opportunity to increase the rents and the overall yield. The appraisal is emailed; the recommendation is a guide price of £2.5m.

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I take a phone call from a woman with a house to sell in Cowbridge, Wales. The house will shortly be vacant following a tenancy and she doesn’t want it standing empty. I do some research; did you know Cowbridge was voted “best place to live in Wales” in 2017 by the Sunday Times? Nor did I.

I sell all types of property anywhere in the UK so no one day is like the next. I love the job for its variety and the challenge of getting the value right. There’s nowhere to hide with auction – no bidders equal no sale. The price I recommend has to be one that creates interest and produces a positive result, that doesn’t always mean a discount. We sell some fantastic properties at auction - the best house in the right road can produce as much competition as a house for refurbishment with the opportunity to add value.

My wife calls: she’s with her friend who’s inherited a flat with 40 years on the lease – can I help? I talk through the process of enfranchisement/lease extension and the options with regards to sale. Any lease with less than 80 years unexpired is ‘defective’ in the eyes of The Council of Mortgage Lenders and means a buyer can’t get a High Street mortgage, I sell a lot of short lease flats at auction – my record is four years unexpired.

While a desktop appraisal is sufficient in most cases I do also inspect some properties. Today I’m inspecting a shop with two flats above in Ashford near Heathrow and from there to Enfield, Harrow and Ealing to look at some lots with structural defects.

I’m a Hitchin boy but it’s extremely rare that I get to sell something on home turf, the property market throughout the south east has been so buoyant most properties sell easily on the open market. It’s when things slow down I get phone calls from local sellers.

In order to service properties in remote locations I have a network of estate agents and property professionals who help out taking photographs and conducting viewings. In locations where I don’t have a network partner I employ viewing agents - I’ve been able to offer properties on Skye and Tobermorey this way!

How to Buy and Sell Property at Auction: The Inside Story will be held at the Ballroom Bar, The Sun Hotel, Sun Street, Hitchin, SG5 1AF on Tuesday 26th September 2017 at 7.30pm. For more information and to book your place, contact Toby at Network Auctions on 01923 240420 or tl@networkauctions.co.uk.