The property market has not perished from Covid yet, if the new type of lockdown-based bidding war witnessed online this week is anything to go by.
A small 0.3-acre site in Maynooth with permission for two four-bedroom houses became the first Irish site to sell via online paperless disposal when it went for 42pc above the reserve price in a hard-fought bidding war on Tuesday between 10 prospective buyers, all safely ensconced in lockdown.
The property was sold and contracts signed in roughly an hour, representing what was likely the fastest disposal of a site from bidding to signing of contracts ever in Ireland.
The auction by Sherry FitzGerald Brady O'Flaherty was conducted through the new Offr all-in one auction and sale closing system launched here late last year.
While online auctions have recently become commonplace, contracts always had to be signed in person.
Plenty of homes have been sold through Offr since its launch last year, but the Maynooth property is the first development site to be Offr-ed and the first time that developers have bid together on it in a group.
The site at the junction of Old Greenfield and Straffan Road is 300m from Maynooth Railway Station and within walking distance of the town's university.
Sixteen parties registered to bid remotely, each paying a deposit of €20,000 for access to the bidding button on their devices at home.
The site was guided at €150,000 and 10 of the registered parties fought it out from noon when bidding kicked off at the guideline.
Registered bids turned green at €190,000 to signify the reserve had been reached. Bids continued to fly in with many of the anonymous parties (each denoted only by an identity number) waiting until late in the process to swoop in.
After a rapid-fire session of 25 remotely-placed bids in €5,000 increments, the property sold at 1pm to bidder number 886 for €270,000 in what was that party's second bid of the session.
The successful buyer had waited until the property reached €250,000 before placing their maiden and only other offer.
At this point, the Offr technology applied both sets of pre-supplied signatures automatically to contracts and from that point the sale became legally binding.
At 42pc above the reserve, the final price paid and the number of bidders was reminiscent of Celtic Tiger-era auction room sessions when properties regularly exceeded guideline prices by 20pc and more.
It also contradicts notions that most developers and builders are in serious trouble due to Covid. The buyer is believed to be a local developer.
Maynooth is notoriously tight for housing supply. It's a university town and has rail access to Dublin.
Auctioneer Eamon O'Flaherty said: "It demonstrates the appetite currently for small- to medium-sized in-fill sites, even during these extraordinary times.
"The Offr platform embraces cutting-edge technology and offers an efficient and transparent experience for all involved. Indeed the auctioneers, solicitors, buyers and sellers were able to participate from the comfort of their own homes due to the current Covid-19 restrictions. I expect we'll see more of these sales going forward."
Developed in Ireland by ex-Allsop Space and BidX1 executive Robert Hoban and former REA network chief Philip Farrell, Offr is set to launch next month in the UK and Australia.
Mr Farrell added: "Over 50 homes have sold on Offr since we launched in September but this was the first site to sell using the technology package. The response was fantastic and what can I say other than we're very happy indeed."