Auctions are getting a new lease of life in the troubled property market as they are proving that certain types of property can defy the extremely difficult conditions and sell.
Auction properties appeal especially to buyers who have the cash resources or the backing of their banks in order to buy. Over the next five months, there are five bumper auctions scheduled and all of them will compete to sell large lots of properties in the low-to-middle price range.
At the upper end of the market, six properties are expected to test the €1m to €4.5m range in the Greater Dublin Area within the next six weeks. These include two stud farms, and four suburban houses.
In Galway, more than 30 properties are due to be sold in four auctions between today and July 15.
Then on June 18, more than 50 properties from Munster and Leinster, with a combined value of more than €25m, are expected to be sold by Noel Forde and Tom McCarthy of Mac Estates and GMAC Properties.
Their initial aim had been to auction Cork properties, but since they announced the plans they have attracted properties from Kildare, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, Kerry and Clare.
"Currently, we have 14 properties in the Leinster area, these include a number of large modern houses in Urlingford, with a maximum reserve of €180,000 area, as well as a number of development sites with full planning in and around Urlingford, Athy and Mountrath.
"It is important to make the distinction that this is not a distressed property auction, this is a discounted property auction. All properties offered for sale have been put on the market by the owners, who are offering big discounts on the prices that were being achieved at the height of the boom," Noel Forde said.
In July, Allsopspace plans to more than double the number of properties it sold at its first auction in April this year when it sold 82 of the 84 homes in the catalogue.
Up to 200 could go under the hammer and Stephen McCarthy of Allsopspace expects that Dublin properties will account for about half of them and commercial properties with tenants will also account for more than 20pc.
The April auction included eight flats at Castleforbes Square in Dublin's north docklands, which sold for between €140,000 and €190,000. More of these are expected to feature in the next auction. He also hopes to include more houses in the mid-price range, up to €1m.
Today will see Sleighduff Johnstown, Arklow, Co Wicklow, test the market for stud farms. This four-bedroom farmhouse comes with a 40-acre equestrian centre and stabling. The property has had as much as €5.1m invested in it, with cherrywood cladding, brass rails and high bay electric lighting installed among the facilities for the 32 stables. Agents Knight Frank are quoting an AMV of €2.1m.
Next month, another stud farm may set the record of the year. Loughtown Stud, Clane, Co Kildare, a 171-acre stud farm which bred some famous racehorses, such as Ragusa, which will be auctioned on June 29. Joint agents Coonan Real Estate Alliance and Goffs Country are quoting an AMV of €4.5m.
September will see at least two bumper auctions, one of them from Savills and the other from the Real Estate Alliance. Allsopspace is also expected to hold at least one further auction after the summer holidays.
Despite all of the auction action in the regions, Dublin has seen very little of this so far this year. Only a handful of houses in the capital have featured in auctions so far.
This is partly because the Dublin agents usually set a time limit of only four weeks for a marketing campaign for these houses and this is too short a timescale for most buyers to tie down their banks to providing a mortgage. By contrast, Allsop and the country agents will usually allow about six weeks or more for a sales campaign.
John O'Sullivan of Lisney points out that most buyers and sellers prefer to go the private-treaty route at the moment because it gives them more time to arrange funding.
Simon Ensor of Sherry Fitzgerald concurs. Both of them will see their skills tested in the next few weeks.
Next week, on May 25, Ensor will auction 75 Eglinton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 for which he is quoting an AMV of €1.3m.
The following day, the Lisney team will auction two Dublin houses: 39 Park Avenue Sandymount Dublin 4, a Victorian red-brick with four bedrooms for which the AMV is €1.75m; and The Anchorage in Howth with an AMV of €950,000.
Then on June 8, Lisney will auction Weston, Ardeevin Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin, a detached house with four bedrooms, two reception rooms and a €2.5m. AMV.
Simon Ensor had one of the few successful Dublin house auctions this year when he sold a three-bedroom semi known as Clermont, 18 Haddington Park, Glenageary, Co Dublin, for €405,000. At the height of the boom, it would have attracted bids of more than €700,000.
To date, Lisney has brought only two houses to auction in Dublin and neither of these sold on the day. One, the Lake House in Howth, sold after auction for in excess of its €600,000 guide price.
Galway auctioneers O’Donnellan Joyce plan to bring 80 properties to a series of auctions over the year. Already they have auctioned 12 properties at two auctions. Their third of the year will take place today with nine properties, and for their July 1 auction, as many as 13 are in the catalogue, including a three-bedroom terraced house off Eyre Square at €125,000.
Colm O’Donnellan advises sellers to keep their reserve price the same as the AMV or less. They are planning weekly auctions for each of the first three weeks in July.
In Leinster, auction activity is not confined to bumper auctions or indeed to distressed property. A major portion of the successful auctions are sales of former farm houses on a few acres where the holdings are being parcelled into small lots, which are within the price range of cash buyers or people who need to borrow only a small portion of the price. For instance this month two small Wicklow and Wexford farms sold for over their guide prices when the houses were sold separately with a few acres.