Auctions achieving great results for vendors

Auctions are the way to sell your house in the current Hamilton property market.

Why wouldn't you, if prices are reaching between $100,000 and $200,000 above the council valuation and multiple buyers are showing up for each sale?

On a recent Thursday, the Harcourts Hamilton auction room was packed with 150 people.

About half were European, the other half of Asian descent - plus a lone Polynesian.

Chatter fills the room. Some are excited, some are nervous, others are making small talk to fill the time.

"What about The Bachelor?" one woman says to another. "Not surprising, is it, really?" her seat buddy replies.

Everyone in the room has a part to play.

There is the auctioneer, in this case Campbell Scott.

Three on-floor negotiators will negotiate between the vendor and purchaser.

​There is the person who writes the bidding figures on a clipboard for the auctioneer to see.

There are real estate agents accompanying both vendors and buyers.

There are developers and investors trying to gauge the market.

And the odd rubbernecker.

You can separate the people in the room.

The real estate agents look shiny. Hair is perfectly coiffed, clean shoes, pressed suits, and smiles plastered on their faces.

The buyers are dressed in far more casual attire.

An Asian man sits in his worn white sneakers that have been polished several times, faded black chinos and a black cotton top. You wouldn't give him a second glance on the street, and he would look out of place at anything high-end, but as you listen to his conversation with a real estate agent, he is talking about what he would pay for a house.

"I wanted to buy that place at $500,000. I would have paid cash for it, but it went a bit high," he says.

Further eavesdropping uncovers that he has a large property portfolio.

On the auction block this Thursday are seven houses - six others have been sold pre-auction.

Real estate agent Robyn Grinter says that is a small number to have on the table, so she expects a quick afternoon.

When auctioneer Scott starts talking, the chatter doesn't diminish.

The first bid of the day is slow to come and Scott threatens the two-unit rental property is going to pass by.

Pass by is real-estate speak for not selling at auction.

Finally, a bid of $801,000 comes from the floor.

"It looks as though you put a lot of thought into the first call," Scott replies, getting a few titters from his audience.
Too-ing and fro-ing starts.

The bidding is staggered, anything between $1000 and $20,000 advances are made. Sometimes the amounts are so strange you think there's something superstitious informing the bid. Eventually the hammer comes down on $888,000.

Three young men walk out with two real estate agents to finalise the details on the purchase. The next five houses all struggle to get going. Negotiations are taken off the floor behind closed doors between vendors and interested parties.

Music punctuates the interludes.

Crowded House blats out "and I am not afraid of the dark" as the soulful tunes of Distant Sun come over. You can't help but wonder if it's ironically placed.

The longer the auctions last, the more Scott licks his lips.

This business must be thirsty work.

One of the seven properties - 2 Hawtry Lane - is one Grinter is representing.

The vendor has just built his own house. He was using Hawtry Lane to live in while he was building and was considering keeping it as an investment property, but decided to sell it to wipe the mortgage off his new house.

The reserve of $660,000 was set to cover the money he owes to the bank.

He sold it for $650,000 in back-door negotiations.

The winner cried when she won it.

The last house that comes up - 3 Rumney St - starts generating interest. The bids are coming in thick and fast from all around the room.
A Filipino bidder in his 50s in the thick of it raises his hand again to bid at $650,000.

His well-presented wife immediately hits him, grabs his hand and holds it down in his lap as the rest of bidding plays out.

The house sells for $670,000, but not before auctioneer Scott tries to sweet-talk the wife into allowing the husband to make another bid.
It was a 100 per cent sale rate for the day.

Everyone leaves the room as Bon Jovi blats out "this Romeo is bleeding, but you can't see his blood ... and I will love you baby, always."
Harcourts Hamilton shareholder Trent Finlay saunters over.

He is elated with the success rate at the auction, and with the property market.

It is 10 years since Hamilton has seen this level of sales volume, Finlay says.

When the total pool of houses on the Hamilton property market dropped below 900 back in the day, everyone went into panic mode, he says.

Right now there are about 470 across the city - last month it hit 376.

Stock levels are low.

And at least a quarter of those houses are under contract, he says.

His patch, Rototuna, is flourishing with the new junior high school.

"I had a couple who just mowed their lawns for 18 months and they made $245,000 profit on their house out there," Finlay says.

But what about the music? Who makes the decision on the playlist? Bon Jovi, Crowded House, Foo Fighters, Radiohead?

​It was a playlist made about three or four years ago, Finlay says.

"We try to keep it upbeat. A lot of thought goes into it. We don't want to be playing elevator music."

But maybe elevator music would be appropriate.

Elevators go up, but they also go down.