We spoke to Roger Lake about his experience in the property industry, insights into property auctions and opinions on the housing market in the UK.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what is it you do?
“I am a Founding Director of Auction House UK and have over 30 years’ experience in the property sector. I am Managing Director of the franchise business which began operation in 2007 and operates nearly 40 regional auction rooms.”
What drove you to work in the property industry?
“I switched from an early marketing career in the food industry to a marketing and sales position in the New Homes sector with volume housebuilder Barratt. I brought many transferable skills with me and as Sales Director for Barratt East Anglia helped grow that business significantly. I shifted into the Retirement Housing sector for a while, then moved into Consultancy before starting up my own estate agency and later specialising in property auctions.”
Are there any recent insights you can give our readers?
“My biggest insight is the attraction and growing popularity of property auctions. If you are a seller it is without doubt the quick and easy way to sell your property, you will get the best price on the day from a cash ready buyer able to proceed unencumbered and you will be working to a fixed completion date. As a buyer there is a level playing field, you carry out your necessary due diligence in advance of bidding and work out your maximum bid. You will attend the auction, bid on the property that you want and often succeed in purchasing it at a price below your maximum. Yes, your property will need to be suitable for auction but in truth many are, probably one in every five properties could sensibly be sold at auction.”
How do you think Brexit will affect the property market?
“Brexit has certainly made the property market more difficult, transaction numbers are well down and estate agents are delivering far fewer sales. Other sectors, and that certainly includes auctions, have prospered during the protracted Brexit process. Auction House has seen record sales in both 2018 and 2019. That’s because more sellers and buyers are turning to the speed and certainty of auctions in these challenging times. When we do get a Brexit conclusion there should be a bounce in activity – those people that have held back will pitch in, and both supply and demand will increase.”
When do you think would be a good time to buy in the property market?
“For those that can, I think that now is a good time to buy because demand has slowed. There are many factors that determine when an individual might wish to buy – a lot of those are personal circumstances. I support the idea that people should buy a property when it suits them rather than when the market looks most favourable. For investors it is about buying the right type of property in the right location with the required yield. My approach is to support and encourage buyers rather than worry them with future projections.”
What are your plans in the property market over the next 10 years?
“Sales volumes at Auction House have grown consistently over the last 10 plus years, our goal is to maintain that trajectory. Certainly selling and buying at auction is growing in popularity, it has so many comparable benefits. The new variant that will flourish over the next few years is Online Auctions. This is an even faster way of selling that uses eBay-style competitive bidding on the internet. Auction House now run Online Auctions every Thursday of the year (except over the Christmas/New Year holiday period). This service enables a seller to choose the date when they want their property offered and hopefully exchanged – we require a minimum of three weeks marketing prior to the chosen Thursday of the Online Auction and we would normally advise a completion date four weeks later, although this can be shortened to two weeks when necessary. The service is in its infancy at the moment but volumes will certainly build. Our solution has sellers paying the auctioneers commission which is similar to the traditional Room Auctions process. One cautionary note to all buyers that are purchasing through Online Auctions – please do check what buyer charges will be levied as the Modern Method of Auction includes substantial Reservation Fees which can be penal to the purchaser and need to be discounted from your maximum bid. Sellers should beware too and prepared for lower offers.”
Where are the hottest places to buy and sell in the UK?
“This is always difficult to say or forecast. Certainly recent demand has been higher in the Midlands and the North, and slower in the South and West. The London market has been especially challenging just recently, but sales by auction have generally remained healthy.”
What is the most unusual property you have come across in the auction?
“I can’t pick out a most unusual but what I can say is that the spectrum of properties that we sell at auction is enormous. We sell all sorts of houses from low price terraces to country mansions and their condition vary from fire damaged or derelict through to pristine. Flats and apartments are regularly sold at auction, either tenanted as investments or vacant for landlord purchase or owner occupation. We are offering an increasing number of commercial and mixed-use properties which sell well, sometimes with change of use opportunities. All sorts of land is sold at auction from small parcels to building plots, development sites, plus pasture, arable, woodland and amenity land. Auction buyers also look for development opportunities and properties that can be converted. The variety is enormous and I often say that “auction is a method of sale that is quick and certain – sellers choose auction because it suits their situation and circumstances – there is no limit to the style, type or age of property that can be sold at auction”.”
Which areas sell best at auction?
“We sell auction properties in all parts of England, Scotland and Wales through our network of nearly 40 regional auction rooms – the market varies across the regions and changes over time too. There is no best area overall, but there are popular types of property. Those for improvement or refurbishment are always sought after, land is regularly in demand, we sell a lot of distressed properties and there is particularly strong demand for these. We also have landlord buyers who are growing their portfolios, traders who buy and sell on a regular basis and an increasing number of private purchasers who are acquiring for their own occupation or assisting their first time buyer children. Put simply, we sell a wide selection of properties to a wide mix of buyers, and do so with the benefit of speed and certainty that they all enjoy.”