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Auction roundup – new hires, enormous sales and a Rapunzel tower

This week’s auction roundup is a mixed bag, so to speak, with Savills announcing its new head of auctions and Propertymark reporting whopping sales in UK auctions. Meanwhile, Bond Wolfe sees £146m raised this year, and a police box and Rapunzel tower are due to go under the hammer at Connect UK and Network Auctions.

Savills welcomes new head of auctions

Savills has announced the promotion of Robin Howeson to head of auctions, effective from January 1 2022.


Currently a senior director within Savills Auctions, Howeson takes over from Chris Coleman-Smith who founded the team 23 years ago.

Howeson led the successful migration of Savills Auctions into a new live stream online format at the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020. The new format has allowed Savills to hold a greater number of auctions, provide more flexibility in responding to clients’ requirements and ultimately significantly raise the firm’s average sale price to over £400,000.

Over the last eighteen months, the auctions team has completed 17 remote sales, raising over £500 million. The team added five new recruits in this period and is expected to expand further in the coming months. 

Paul Mooney, who joined Savills with Chris Coleman-Smith, and Jeremy Lamb, who joined from BidX1 in April 2020 complete the senior management team supporting Howeson.

Coleman-Smith will continue to play a prominent role in the team in his new role as consultant auctioneer. He will continue to service his existing clients, make the occasional appearance on the rostrum and continue to represent Savills Auctions on the RICS Auctions Working Group.

Coleman-Smith comments: “When we founded our auction department over twenty years ago, we couldn’t imagine the phenomenal period of growth we’ve experienced to become a market-leading property auctioneer.”

“Over the last 18 months, this success has only accelerated, growing turnover and market share, with Robin playing an absolutely key role in this. While stepping back from running the team, I’m not going far and am looking forward to continuing to work with our many loyal clients.”

Howeson says: “I’d like to thank Chris for his incredible vision and commitment in building such a strong business, and am delighted that he will continue to play a prominent role in our team. I am excited at the opportunity to continue to grow Savills Auctions as our clients entrust us to help them sell an ever wider range of properties by value, geography and sector.”

Huge £539.5m sales recorded shows growing appetite for auctions

As the dust begins to settle on the pandemic, auctioneers are continuing to see an influx of new people taking to online auctions.

The latest EIG report shows a 15% increase in the total raised from property auctions in September compared to the same time in 2020.

Propertymark believes that this is from the increased appetite from people of all ages taking to auctions as auctioneers from across the county continue to reiterate the same message of a busy market.

Now that many businesses were pushed to bring their services online due to Covid-19, it has opened the auction world to not only the usual auction attendees to give them access from the comfort of their own homes, but to savvy youngsters, busy parents and home improvers who usually buy online.

Commenting on property auctions, Paul Bridgeman, NAVA Propertymark President and Regional Director & Auctioneer at Clive Emson, says: “It is safe to say that interest from sellers and attendance at property auctions has grown over the course of the pandemic and remains just as strong now.”

“A key part to play in September’s huge sale figures was in part due to the run-up to the end of the Stamp Duty holiday in which house sellers were looking for a quick sale and auctions were able to provide that. As soon as a property is sold, the exchange on that property is instant, so sellers were offered the reassurance of meeting the Stamp Duty relief deadline.”

“The pandemic has opened consumers eyes to the world of auctioneering and I’m sure the profession will continue to see a large uptaking,” he adds.

As an increasing amount of people become aware of what auctions are all about, coupled with the UK Government’s extension to the apprenticeship levy, opportunities are presenting themselves for employers to work to get fresh blood into the industry.

In March 2022, Propertymark will yet again bolster novice auctioneers at its Auctioneer of the Year Awards event which looks to bring like-minded professionals and newbie auctioneers together to celebrate the successes of the industry.

£146m raised for Bond Wolfe after pricy October auction

National property group Bond Wolfe has attracted total sales of more than £16 million from the 154 lots sold in its latest auction on October 20.

The revenues now mean that with another auction in December still to go, the auctioneer’s year-to-date sales total has reached £146 million, with an average success rate of 93%.

Gurpreet Bassi, chief executive of Bond Wolfe, comments: “We were pleased to see that the interest in our auctions remains very high, reflecting the increasing regional, national and global demand for property.”

“Despite the prospect of higher interest rates, the marketing period for this auction remained as busy as ever, and we are already handling new calls and emails to enter our next auction in December.”

The build-up to the latest busy auction saw 616,767 website page views, with 107,837 video tours watched, a total of 31,491 legal documents downloaded and 17,665 logging in to watch the auction live.

Highlights included two lots of freehold commercial ground rent sold on behalf of Birmingham City Council.

This included ground rents for land and premises at New Summer Street in Newtown selling for £182,000 from a guide price of £150,000-plus, and ground rents for nearby 85 New Summer Street selling for £150,000, equal to the guide price.

Over in the Black Country, a plot of land adjacent to 44 Rood End Road in Oldbury was sold on behalf of Sandwell Council for £110,000 – nearly three times its £38,000-plus guide price.

Meanwhile, a former guesthouse with nine bedrooms and a swimming pool near Sutton Coldfield sold prior to auction for nearly three-quarters of a million pounds. This detached property known as Highfield Farm, overlooking open countryside on Farthing Lane in Curdworth, had a guide price of £635,000-plus but keen interest saw its sale prior to the auction for £740,000.

In a day of numerous strong results at the auction, a standout lot was a substantial double-fronted, end-terraced house converted into three self-contained flats at 6 St. Pauls Road in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

This property, described as having a potential gross rental income of £19,800 per annum, had a guide price of £100,000-plus, but keen bidding saw the hammer come down nearly three times higher at £294,000.

Down in Hall Green, a three-bedroomed, semi-detached house at 102 Gracemere Crescent was sold for £187,000 – more than double its guide price of £85,000-plus.

Bond Wolfe’s successful sales were not just Midlands-based, with two holiday homes based on a popular country holiday park in Cornwall exciting the market.

One was a two-bedroomed holiday home at 46 Hengar Manor, in St. Tudy, near Bodmin, where bidding resulted in a sale price of £56,000 from a guide price of £35,000+.

Another two-bedroom holiday bungalow at 95 Hengar Manor has a guide price of £30,000+ but keen interest saw this sold prior to the auction for £52,500.

Bassi adds: “The continuing healthy results we are achieving for vendors across the UK once again demonstrates that the selection of attractively priced properties offered at our auctions results in strong buyers’ appetites.”

Bond Wolfe’s next auction starts at 9am on Wednesday December 8 2021, and property owners interested in selling can arrange a free auction appraisal by calling 0121 312 1212 or 01902 928 510.

Police box set to go under the hammer at Connect UK Auctions

The Action is certainly causing a frenzy in a former police box in Walker Street, Hull, which is set to take centre stage at Connect UK’s upcoming auction.

Although it is unused and has been for some time, the freehold building was once a shelter for police officers to make a cup of tea and spend a penny, as well as a rest point or stop-off for the men in blue to fill in paperwork.

The shelter soon became redundant and surplus to requirements.

Auction roundup – new hires, enormous sales and a Rapunzel tower

Zad Siadatan, managing director and chief executive officer of Connect UK, says: “The Tardis it certainly isn’t, but this former police box is likely to undergo a Dr Who-like regeneration of its own.”

“Sitting on a generous plot, some potential purchasers have expressed interest in using the land for residential development as well others proposing the commercial avenue, to re-develop into offices.”

Interested parties are advised to contact the local planning authority directly to discuss any alternative planning use or site appraisals.

However, the site boasts road frontage and is surrounded by residential dwellings which proves promising for potential purchasers.

You can find out more about this lot for sale at Connect UK Auctions here.

Iconic ‘Rapunzel’ tower features in Network Auctions sale

A landmark tower reminiscent of the story of ‘Rapunzel’ is being sold by Network Auctions with a ‘hair-raisingly’ low guide of £110,000-plus.

50 High Street, Boston, Lincolnshire is an iconic building situated on the quayside and for over two centuries has been the focal point on Doughty Quay. Grade II listed, the 19th century tower, built in 1810, has five storeys and is an impressive 2046 sq. ft.

Auctioneer Toby Limbrick comments: “This building was originally a grain store, but the potential of this place is enormous. Even though the current use is light industrial, we understand the building has been used as a dwelling for over 30 years.”

Auction roundup – new hires, enormous sales and a Rapunzel tower

“The iconic status of the tower and its location adjacent to the River Witham makes it an ideal subject for a variety of commercial uses including a gallery, restaurant or offices, while it’s unique look and stunning river and town views would contribute to a home of great character.”

The tower is a well-known landmark in the town centre; however, many may not realise it’s walls are one-metre thick, and it was originally built to store heavy merchandise.

Historically, it was used as a warehouse for fish canners, grocers and grain merchants and known as the Van Smirren, London Warehouse, Booker Warehouse and the Public Warehouse, although more recently it has been home to an artistic couple.

The lot will be sold by Network Auctions online on December 9. For more information visit the Network Auctions website.


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