Life & Culture

Auctions buoyant but buyers choosy


A snooker hall and a houseboat were among the more striking lots at this month's fast-moving auctions. And it is not only the properties that are moving. David Margolis has joined auctioneer Acuitus. He was previously with CBRE where he was a senior director and auctioneer.

Richard Auterac, Acuitus chairman, says: "We are pursuing an active growth strategy and David will play a vital part in this."

Mr Margolis joins the team as investment director and auctioneer. He adds: "Since it was created in 2010, Acuitus has demonstrated the power of a business which specialises in commercial property auctions and the private investor market place."

Across its three auctions this year, Acuitus has sold nearly £100 million-worth of stock - a 25 per cent increase on the corresponding volume in 2013.

Its auction in March was the firm's biggest to date, raising £54 million at a success rate of 92 per cent - and with one lot selling for £9.55 million.

According to auctioneer Andrew Scott Robertson, the current best performers are well-priced residential and secondary commercial property. ASR's June 2 sale raised almost £10 million, with just over 70 per cent of the properties offered now sold.

Robin Cripp, ASR chairman, says: "Although there is plenty of money out there, buyers are being selective. Vacant residential properties in sought-after locations and with London postcodes, ex-housing association and local authority lots and well-priced secondary commercial investments producing high yields all sold well, while some investments perceived by bidders to be in poorer pitches and let on high rents were less popular."

The auction demonstrates a slight recalibration, Mr Cripp says. "In recent months the housing market has surged and we see now that buyers are considering what they are willing to pay and a slight correction is taking place. Having said this there is still a lot of enthusiasm and we achieved some very strong individual results."

Among the highlights, ASR sold a Rileys Snooker Hall at 87 Park Street, Luton, on behalf of the LPA receivers. It provoked strong interest and two strongly competitive bidders in the room - and was knocked down at £325,000, off a guide of £150,000-plus.

Auction House has sold 1,000 lots this year alone. The 1,000th property in question was a three-bedroom mid-terrace property in Carlisle, Cumbria, which sold close to the top of its guide price, for £44,000.

Andrew Binstock, Auction House London managing director, says: "These figures make impressive reading, particularly in the more challenging national auction market. Here in London, the residential auction market has never looked stronger, with a lot of competition for properties on our books."

Under the hammer at Auction House London's sale this week, after the JC went to press, was a four-bedroom houseboat moored near Canary Wharf in East London.

Mr Binstock says: "While the private treaty market labours with mortgage application problems and valuation delays, we see that sales by auction are happening faster than ever.

"An instant exchange on the fall of the hammer after a four-week marketing period is a hugely attractive benefit when compared to an average of over 13 weeks between agreeing a sale and exchange of contracts on the open market."

The next Andrew Scott Robertson auction takes place on July 21. Acuitus's next sale is on July 9, 2014.

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