Following a successful launch to our online property auctions, Senior Partner Mark Lewis reflects on his new role as a 'virtual' auctioneer.
In Symonds & Sampson’s long history there have been some seismic events that have changed the world. Since our establishment in 1858 the firm has survived two world wars, celebrated five monarchs, rejoiced when women got the vote, marvelled at the first aeroplane flight and the first automobile, and witnessed the foundation of the BBC and the launch of the NHS.
In my lifetime I watched with fascination as the first man walked on the moon, cheered the end of apartheid and was relieved to see the tearing down of the Berlin Wall at the end of the Cold War. One of the most ground breaking innovations has been the birth of the internet and the transformation in the way we communicate and get knowledge.
Throughout the last 162 years there have been many constants but the most relevant to our firm is the way we have established the market value of live and deadstock, chattels and property. A sale by auction.
The importance of an auction sale should not be underestimated. It is a transparent way of selling a lot to competitive bidders and gives the buyer and seller confidence that the fair price has been achieved. At Symonds & Sampson we have built our reputation by taking a pride in helping our clients find solutions and a lot of time is spent marketing, building, and managing the auction for our clients.
When COVID -19 caused a lockdown in the UK our traditional ‘ballroom’ auctions had to stop but we still had a responsibility to ensure that lots could still be sold. We therefore, decided to take the auction sales online which has been a major learning experience, not only to make sure the right software has been in place, but also in ensuring that our staff have the confidence to assure both vendors and purchasers that we have a workable alternative to a ‘live’ saleroom.
I am particularly indebted to Marlise Joliffe and Meredith Holmes from our administration team who have worked tirelessly to put the online auction system in place. Over a four-week period we have managed to sell 23 properties raising over £3.6 million. Prices have averaged 18% over the guide price with buyers being sourced from all over the south, London and even America. To get so many people to bid would not have been possible without providing full guidance about how the process worked and plus of course without physical viewings taking place, we had to conduct ‘virtual’ tours around the lots.
Having been an auctioneer for 40 years, it has been strange to see how successful this new method of sale has been and although there is a terrific buzz when the bids are made over the internet, I still miss the normal sale room. The sense of theatre, the exhilaration, the nervous tension in the room, the humour, the human contact, and the look of joy and relief on the faces of both buyers and sellers once the hammer comes down. We also lose the social opportunity for likeminded people, neighbours and friends to meet up and exchange views.
I cannot wait to get back into the sale room but this looks someway off and our online sales will be the only forum available for the foreseeable future. If these strong results continue however, we will still have very happy buyers and sellers.