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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Olivia Williams

Life as an auctioneer where properties sell for £30K and land for millions

An auctioneer has lifted the lid on what it is like to work in the industry.

Chris Johnson has worked at Smith and Sons based in Hamilton Square, Birkenhead for nearly 50 years. The 69-year-old began at the company in 1975 and is now a consultant, auctioneer and valuation surveyor.

According to Chris, the best properties that seem to auction quickly and for good prices are those which need refurbishment to them.

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Speaking to the ECHO, he said: "Basically we have a good database of clients, so have a lot of property owners, investors [...] people who have had houses left to them through probate or however reason they have come into property and they just want to sell.

"The best properties to sell or the ones that attract the most interest are those that need refurbishment and modernisation or those who have already got tenants either commercial or residential tenants."

When looking at properties, Chris said they look at those which could be an investment, need refurbishment or "somethings out of the ordinary" like a church hall or a barn conversion or bits of land, shops, offices.

He added: "Anything really where there is an angle for a purchaser to buy, do it, develop it, sell it on or put a tenant in. So we would then tell the owner whether or not it was suitable for auction. If it was, we would then agree with them on a guide price. Until covid we had auctions at a room in the Village Hotel in Bromborough but obviously since covid it has all been online.

"We would agree the guide price with the owner, we would then do all the marketing, prepare the catalogue, take photographs, do videos and show people round."

Chris said they would then agree on a reserve figure, the minimum figure the owner allows the property consultant to sell at and which would normally be within the guide price.

He added: "We then offer it in the room or online. Then the bidding goes up to the reserve price, when it reaches the reserve price it often goes well above that. We have had properties which have sold twice the guide price, particularly if it an attractive one."

The auctioneer said he believes many people prefer selling via action because it is "transparent, quick and it's a way of getting the best price".

In recent times, Chris said the company has auctioned properties for the lowest prices of around £30,000 to £40,000. However, a piece of land which was guided at £2m went for more than double the price of £4.7m.

He said: "It becomes a bit of a macho thing, they don't want to let the other person get it so they keep bidding themselves. We had a house in Irby on the Wirral two auctions ago which was guided at £150,000 and it went for £310,000.

"Again because it was an unusual one and a lot of competition and that's why it goes for such good prices."

When asked what the best part of the job is, the 69-year-old said it was "the buzz" of the auction room and knowing he has done a "good job for the owner".

He added: "I think it's the buzz you get when you're actually in the room [...] with lots of bids coming in and you go round the room and hands are going up, that's quite exciting and you know you have done a good job and you have got the best price for the owner."


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