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Records, rebranding and Rightmove: a year at SDL Property Auctions

Managing Director and auctioneer at SDL Property Auctions, Andrew Parker, takes a look back at how SDL Property Auctions has grown during the last year and how the business plans to continue its success.

I don’t think a 12-month period like the last has ever, or will ever, be such a catalyst for change in the auctions market.

During the past year, SDL Property Auctions has gone from being a successful regional business, to the leading national property auctioneer. It’s been achieved in part due to how well we were placed to react to the property auctions market moving online, and also our ambition as a business to grow and become the UK’s number one live-streamed auctioneer.


Our growth in 2020, which has continued into 2021, has been fuelled by sometimes quick decisions - in March last year we moved all of our room auctions ‘behind closed doors’ almost overnight and hosted them purely online - as well as key strategic moves. In particular, moving away from the other businesses in the SDL Group, especially SDL Surveying and SDL Property Management, has enabled us to focus our business and ambitions on supporting individuals and businesses to achieve fast, faff-free property sales.

It's that mix of ambition and often bold decision making that has enabled us to grow - and we haven’t looked back since the property market initially took a hit in the first lockdown. This is highlighted by our figures.


Our results in March this year indicated that sales were up 184% year-on-year, making it our most successful March ever. And in April our National Property Auction drew in almost 2,000 registered bidders and raised more than £20 million for sellers in just one day - as we continue to ride a wave of high demand from buyers looking to beat the stamp duty deadline, something we have seen over the best part of the last six months.

You just have to look at our figures month-to-month since last March and you will struggle to find a month where we haven’t broken some kind of previous record. Whether that’s the amount raised for sellers, the number of registered bidders, the number of lots, the number of bidders per lot, or the number of lots sold in partnership with estate agents.

You’ll find our best performance for all those in the last 12 months and I wouldn’t be surprised if we are sat here in 12 months’ time with many of those records having been broken again.

I think our success can be put down to the fact that, yes, the stamp duty holiday has created a buzz of activity, but our long-held ambition to become the UK’s number one national property auctioneer has meant we have made the right decisions, at the right times.

We were well-placed to take advantage of demand because of our previous investment in technology and remote methods of buying and selling at auction. It’s the forward-thinking, and willingness to progress and adapt that drives our success.

Looking ahead we already have plans in place to take advantage of where we see the next opportunities. It is clear that the property auctions market is beginning to shake its label, that selling and buying at auctions is only for neglected, unwanted or repossessed properties. When in reality many properties now sold by auction have little or no more work needed than a home bought via private treaty.

Taking this into consideration, we anticipate more and more people will look at auctions as a viable option to find their next family home or sell their property and we are partnering with more estate agents to offer auctions as a service too.

That’s why we have struck a deal with Rightmove so that our properties for sale by online conditional auction are highlighted in Rightmove’s search results. Prospective buyers will easily be able to see key information about the property like the latest bids, how long the auction has left and info explaining how online conditional auctions work. They will also be able to click a ‘bid to purchase’ button to make their own bid. Essentially streamlining the bidding process. 

Rightmove is typically one of the first places people look for their next home so if they can make an enquiry about a home on the open market, they should be able to make a bid for a property they are interested in at auction too.

I think as a market, property auctions have to look forward and continue to make a case for why it's not just for property investors, but why it can work for many people looking for their next home. There’s a lot of talk about whether auctions will return to rooms, we have no intention of returning to the amount of room auctions we used to run, we intend to look forward and even though it's hard to predict what the future will hold, we’re planning for the next opportunity.

*Andrew Parker is Managing Director and auctioneer at SDL Property Auctions.


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