Recently I have been giving thought to an auctioneers description of the property on Auction Day and the role it plays in the dynamic of the call.
I was asked to meet an owner prior to an auction recently as they wanted to sit down with me and discuss what they wanted to be said about their property prior to the commencement of the auction. During this meeting, it became apparent that the owners had a belief that the auctioneer’s description of the property, immediately prior to the auction, was the pinnacle of their marketing campaign.
On the back of this instruction, I asked the vendors whether they thought the agent had done an appropriate job in marketing the property because to my mind the agent certainly had done with 7 registered bidders who were prepared and competitive. The vendors agreed.
Which left me wondering about the emphasis on property description over other, more critical elements of the call. I asked the vendors a very simple question that day, WHY? Their answer was telling. They wanted to make sure that the interested parties really understood why they should purchase that property.
The function of the property description and preamble to auction, within the auction process, is a hotly contested topic among auctioneers and agents. After 12 years of working as auctioneer and 17 years as sales agent, I have formed a view that the call is too important, too strategic, to be impacted by marketing and fluffery.
ROLE OF THE AUCTIONEER
The auctioneer is there on the day to facilitate the negotiation platform and to drive the momentum of the spectacle. The strategy of the auctioneer is geared towards outcomes and the tactics deployed will depend on the type of property, the heat of the market and the sentiment of the presenting bidders. It may serve a particular strategy to delay the call and try to build anticipation with emotive language, but that would be a rare an unique scenario.
ROLE OF MARKETING
The emotional attachment between buyer and home must take bond prior to auction day. It is the agent’s responsibility to create the desire through marketing and buyer management throughout the campaign.
If the marketing and management have been successful, buyers will be aware of and ready to act on their passions come auction day. If the agent or the marketing has not performed its function pre-auction, then in the words of Carole King, “It’s too late baby”. A smooth-talking filibuster before the auction won’t force an attachment.
In most cases, description and flowery language prior to bidding can actually work to unravel well-laid plans. Beseeching buyers to accept the value of the property features prior to the auction can quickly deteriorate into pleading. It looks a vote of no confidence in the marketing agent.
An auctioneer spruiking the features of a property looks like a last-ditch effort, a hail mary if you will, and like all last-ditch efforts, it gives off an air of…desperation. Desperation, even the hint of it, is something to be carefully avoided in the auction arena.
PRESERVING THE UPPER HAND
A good auctioneer will read the sentiment of the crowd and pull the appropriate emotional levers throughout the call, in order to maintain energy in the crowd. The buyers have experienced the property and have presented themselves, as a market, ready to bid.
There is an energy, an anxiety even, among buyers because they are aware of the value of the property. This energy, this desire, this attachment to the outcome of the auction is an internal and subjective process for each buyer. It can only be diluted by the delay and the strategic upper hand is lost.
BRIDGING THE ATTENTION SPAN
I recently watched a live-streamed auction with a 20 minute, albeit eloquent preamble and property description. I didn’t notice the fine phrasing of the auctioneer, what I noticed was the crowd – most of whom were looking down at their phones with chins lit up and scrolling through news feeds.
DO THIS INSTEAD
So if not an invitation to consider the features of the property, what then, should be said at the beginning of an auction? It is a time to enliven passion, not to describe it. Time is better spent preparing bidders for their participation in the auction bidding and creating comfort with the process.
Many buyers have waited weeks and battled self-doubt and financial risk to turn up to compete for the property. They bring with them hopes and dreams of their future with that property and they would have studied the home, its advertising content and floor plans for hours in most cases – imagining their acquisition. They have a firm picture of themselves in the home – auctioneers need to get out of their way and assist them to outbid and outplay the market for the property.