December Property Auction Market Update

The property auction market’s current transformation…

In November the news broadly matched the weather – cold and gloomy – with the OBR forecasting a year of recession ahead and an autumn statement suggesting austerity.

Since auction schedules, plus many entries, are planned well in advance these issues may very well not have impacted selling plans as yet. However, just as in the property world generally, sentiment can directly affect auction buyers’ decisions on the day.

So what happened at residential property auctions in November?

Noticeably fewer auction sales and lots

It’s often thought that difficult economic times prompt (or even force) sellers to sell. But if any sellers are thinking of offloading right now this wasn’t really reflected in auction volumes this month.

While November is generally a brisk month, and indeed most of the large auction houses held a sale, the number of auctions held was a quarter down on the previous month.

There was a reduction in the number of lots too. Lots offered in November, at the auctions we track, was well down on the approx. 2,400 offered in recent months with just 1,545 properties going under the hammer.

These were split fairly evenly between online sales and live/live streamed sales.

Single auction house raises a quarter of all revenue this month

The largest sellers by lots offered this month in the online arena were Allsop Residential, followed closely by Clive Emson and Auction House.

In the live/live streamed arena the largest sellers were Barnard Marcus, who held something of a marathon sale of 327 lots, followed by Savills with 269 lots.

Interestingly, almost exactly a quarter of all sales by value this month were achieved at two Savills’ sales held on 8 and 24 November. Together these two sales raised a sizable £59.7m.

Percentages sold held up well

Sellers needn’t have worried that the uncertain economic and political climate might make their lots harder to sell. Percentages sold held up well this month. At 69.25% overall they were similar to the last two months and in line with what might be expected across the year.

There was quite a lot of variation between individual sales. Looking at individual auction houses the chances of selling broadly ranged from around 40% to around 80%.

This month the chances of selling were notably higher at a live/live streamed sale than an online auction – 73.8% compared to 64.7%. While that’s an interesting statistic, it’s hard to say whether it is a trend that buyers and sellers might find useful (and probably isn’t).

Amount raised down, but still pretty positive

The amount raised at the auctions we track fell this month. Although perhaps bearing in mind there were fewer sales and a smaller number of lots it could be considered a fair return.

The approximately £236.6m raised was only around 12% down on October when there were 10 more sales and around 850 more lots were offered.

Receipts were a little over 40% down on the amount raised in the traditionally busy September sales. Again, something that shouldn’t be unexpected by any means.


A fair summary of November’s residential auction results might be that they were remarkably unremarkable. There seemed to be no recession-induced early panic selling. But, while no records were broken, there seemed no shortage of buyer interest either.

Looking ahead, December (and especially the first two weeks) also tends to be one of the brisker months at the auctions as buyers, sellers and auctioneers look to get everything tied up before the Christmas holidays. Allsop, for example, already have 249 lots listed in the catalogue for their sale on 15 December.

January is then usually one of the quieter months when many auction houses do not even schedule a sale.

December Property Auction Market Update