In its first commercial property auction as Acuitus, on May 27, the former Jones Lang LaSalle auctions team raised £18 million from the sale of 27 lots in front of a packed room at the Millennium Hotel. The highlight was the sale of the Barclays Bank branch at 18-19 Fleet Street in central London. Guided at £1.4 million, the 4,423sq ft property, which included five flats above the ground-floor branch, sold for £2.27 million to a Greek investor at a yield of 3.92 per cent.
Acuitus auctioneer Richard Auterac comments: "The quality of the properties featured in our first sale was reflected in the prices that many achieved. However, the widespread economic uncertainty of the past two weeks - both domestic and global - was present in the room and did subdue bidding in places. We feel this will be a short-term phenomenon as the economic picture becomes clearer."
Central London investments proved popular throughout the sale, together with supermarkets and ground rents. A Tesco Express in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex sold for £922,000 at a net initial yield of 4.9 per cent. Prices for ground rents remained firm, with industrial ground rents selling for an average yield of 5 per cent.
Mr Auterac adds: "In the current financial climate, buyers are being very discerning and the appetite for London-based investments remains strong, as demonstrated by the Fleet Street lot. Given the international contingent in the crowded room, it is clear that UK auctions are becoming a focus for international investors looking for quality assets. We are now in the process of publishing the catalogue for our next auction."
Another new auction group, Network Auctions, made more than £3 million from lots sold at Hatfield House in May. "We had a record number of lots in the sale and were delighted that many of them were snapped up prior to the auction as investors were keen to beat any possible increase in CGT," says auctioneer Toby Limbrick.
Lots offered included redundant public houses, commercial property with or without accommodation; land with or without planning consent; garages; flats, bungalows and houses and a Victorian lock-keeper's cottage.
The properties, fed by the group's estate agent members around the country, were from Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Surrey, Wales and Worcestershire.
"The range and spread of properties was the key to this success and is testament to the increased activity of our fast-growing member network," says Mr Limbrick, who also announced three new estate agents joining Network Auctions. These are Roberts Newby in Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St Giles, Alan Kirkham in Oldham and Cordingleys in Ashton-under-Lyne.
Members enjoying success for their vendor clients at the sale included Tudor Estates in Southend - with 100 per cent of its lots sold at more than £50,000 above guide price. Estate agent Michael Anthony of Aylesbury also saw two of its lots sell at above the guide price, having split what was originally one lot into three - two detached houses and a large yard.
Network Auctions members are established estate agents, auctioneers and property specialists that offer clients local knowledge, expertise and track record and combine it with Network Auctions' national visibility and presence. "Our members advise clients on which properties are likely to do well at auction, especially as the property market looks to future recovery," says Mr Limbrick. "They offer vendors a fast and certain sale, which takes any uncertainty out of the equation, especially in relation to what the new government may have in store for us."