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Be the auction winner, not the runner-up

By Bella Foster

Are you always the auction-bridesmaid, never the auction-bride? Find out what it takes to finally land your dream home. 

Anne Rose had been searching for a new home for ten months before finally getting a bid across the line this August. After selling her residence of 17 years, Rose started house hunting and lost out at a grand total of six auctions in a matter of months.

Eventually, she finally found a beautiful two-bedroom Victorian terrace in Melbourne’s trendy Northcote and won the auction with a bid of $1.35 million.

We grabbed Rose and real estate agents Nigel and Sam after the auction to discuss winning strategies.

Engage the services of a professional

While Rose didn’t use a buyer’s agent, she does advocate finding someone else to do the bidding for you. In her case, it was a trusted friend.

“The last couple of auctions I’ve been to, I haven’t been successful and I thought I needed someone who was a little bit removed from the whole emotional process that goes on, to bid with a clear mind,” she explains.

“I thought that was going to be a better way for me to feel more secure in getting the property – and it worked!”

Go into an auction prepared

Before heading to the auction, Rose researched the market in the area, comparing similar house sales over the past six months. Jellis Craig Northcote real estate agent, Sam Rigopoulos, says this kind of “on-the-ground” research is vital to success at auction.

Thoroughly understanding the local market will help you land on the right price bandwidth so you can feel comfortable and confident knowing when to back down, or remain in the game.

He also recommends being aware of all the legal terms and having all your finances in order on the day. Without that financial and legal confidence, how do you expect to place a confident bid?

“[Buyers should] do their due diligence around the title, ask all the pertinent questions around settlement terms, so there are no surprises when it comes time to signing the contract on the day of sale.”

Set a limit & stick to it

Speaking of preparation, deciding your absolute maximum bid is key to auction day confidence.

“I sat down the night before and did a bit of number-crunching to come up with the figure that I back out at,” Rose says. “I think it was really important that I was clear about that number.”

As much as you want to win, if the property reaches that number, Rigopoulos encourages you to stick to it and pull out. If it doesn’t meet your budget, it’s not the perfect property, no matter how enticing that coffered ceiling or how lush those European appliances.

Consider your bidding routine

During Rose’s auction, her bidder went straight in with $50,000 on top of the opening bid, quickly narrowing the field to two bidders.

“[The buyer’s best strategy was] to state their claim on the property early, with big, strong bold bidding. It certainly knocked the third player out of contention,” Rigopoulos adds.

“The other thing they did was to have quick responses. So, as soon as they bid, the other [bidder] responded very quickly in kind, and that sort of shows the buyer’s strength and potentially creates the perception of deeper pockets.”

Keep a normal, simple routine

Confidence really is key during an auction. So, to keep the nerves at bay, Rose recommends starting auction day like any other day. That is, try to fit in your normal routines, be it yoga, a jog or simply a cup of tea and a solid brekkie.

“I try to keep it really normal,” she says. “So, I get up and do what I would normally do if I wasn’t going to an auction. Try to keep it as simple and day-to-day as I possibly can.”

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