The Guy Charrison Interview with Rosalind Renshaw, Editor of Estate Agent Today

1. Why don’t more estate agents do auctions?

I think it is likely that most agents just simply wouldn’t know where to start and would see setting up their own auction operation as a huge commitment and risk in terms of financial outlay. Very few agents have professional auctioneering skills and competencies within their businesses already. Fear of failure may also be an issue.

2. What are the perceived barriers?

Running an individual auction is an expensive business for an estate agent. It takes time to build a database of potential buyers and to establish credibility as an effective auctioneer. There is a need for a well-defined pre-auction process with legal information being prepared, catalogues distributed etc and, on the day, since a binding contract is formed when the hammer falls, a robust process for ensuring that transactions are handled correctly.

3. What exactly does Network Auctions offer agents? How much does it cost and what’s the commitment?

Network Auctions work with estate agents in a partnership that crucially is co-branded and therefore reinforces the agency brand and, because of our collective membership power, our auctions are well attended and successful.

Our strapline is "Local expertise and national coverage" and that accurately sums up our proposition and strength. We enable strong local brands to become even stronger through working in partnership with us.

We also put a considerable amount of effort into mentoring and training and ensuring that our partner agents operate successfully. It is a genuine partnership approach.

Through our national position we also generate auction instructions directly, which, if they fall within a partner agent’s territory, result in a fee share with that partner agent.

In terms of costs, a partner agent takes a licence for an exclusive territory for a small monthly fee of £200 per calendar month.

Partner generated instructions are split 70/30 in favour of that agent. Any centrally generated Network Auctions instructions are split 70/30 in favour of Network Auctions.

The considerable costs associated with conducting auctions are borne by Network Auctions, these include catalogue production, venue hire, co-ordination of the legal matters and of course the staging of the actual auction.

One of the benefits of our auction partnership is the ability to sell property anywhere and we have specific arrangements that apply if a lot falls within another partner agent’s licensed territory, making this a very simple and profitable referral.

Our most successful partner agents are also securing business for other areas of their operations through having their profiles raised by working with us. We provide our partner agents with a range of PR and marketing assistance to help them do so.

4. Has Network Auctions managed to grab any of the repossession market?

Yes, and around 10% of the lots at our last auction in May were repossessions. Auctions are such an effective and transparent method of disposal that lots come from a variety of sources, both private and institutional. This provides our partner agents with the opportunity to secure business that they otherwise would not have been able to handle and would have gone elsewhere.

5. How many agents use Network Auctions at the moment?

At the moment we have 18 partner agents and this figure is rising as more and more agents begin to realise the benefits of both auctions and our co-branded approach. Our partner agents are forward-thinking businesses who see auctions as a valuable additional revenue stream which complements the services they are providing.

6. Turning to NAVA (the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers, which is part of NFoPP), how many members does this have and how many concentrate on property, as opposed to fine arts and antiques, motor cars, etc?

NAVA has around 300 members. Of these, around 175 are specifically listed as property auctioneers. NAVA provides recognised training and we see it as the mark of professionalism in auctioneering in the UK.

7. What are your plans for NAVA?

I am greatly looking forward to becoming chairman of NAVA and building on the excellent work of my predecessor Melfyn Williams.

As an active practitioner and trainer of NAVA qualifications for auctioneers, I am keen for us to continue to raise standards and increase the recognition of the NAVA qualifications in the auctioneering sector.

I am also keen to engage more with NFoPP members across both the auctioneering and agency sectors, raise our profile and increase our membership numbers