Are Online Auctions Here to Stay?


Written by: Will Thompson on 9th November 2022

Model House On Laptop

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it threw the property auction industry into turmoil. Social distancing and lockdown rules meant room auctions were put on hold, so many auctioneers were forced to adapt to a new, exclusively digital way of working. Online property auctions became the only way auctions could continue. But now that the former rules have been lifted, are online auctions here to stay? What does the future hold for property auctions?

Online vs room auctions: what’s the difference?

Online property auctions work similarly to room auctions in some ways. However, there are some key differences which make online property auctions even easier for buyers and sellers.

Prior to the pandemic, for decades room auctions were the conventional way to hold an auction and exactly it can be said they are exactly what you would expect: auctioneers speeding through items, gavels, bidders holding up paddles, etc. They take place in a physical location at a specific time and normally last for anywhere between a few hours to a day, depending on how many properties feature in the auction. Bidders mostly attend in person or can bid via telephone or proxy.

Online auctions follow the same basic principles as room auctions, but with added flexibility.

The timeframe is also slightly longer as bidders can bid over a couple of days, from the comfort of their own home or office.

An online property auction is exactly what it says on the tin: buyers and sellers can take part from anywhere as long as they have a solid internet connection. This brings convenience, a large market and, on occasion, a smaller time commitment needed from bidders.

What are the benefits of selling and buying a property online?

One major benefit of selling at an online property auction is that putting your property up for sale can be much quicker. An online property auction provides flexibility, in that auctioneers are able to offer bespoke auction dates to suit a clients particular needs, therefore if a quick sale is required and you don’t want to wait weeks for an auction, you don’t always have to.

Online property auctions also attract potential buyers from a much wider area – nationally and even internationally. Attracting more bidders may means you can achieve a more attractive sales price.

As with room auctions, a sale at an online auction is effectively considered final, so there is less chance of a buyer withdrawing, reducing their offer or a sale falling through.

Buying a property at an online auction also provides many benefits. Firstly, it can be quicker as you don’t have to wait for the next auction room sale date to come around (online auctions are usually held more frequently than room auctions). Also, you don’t have to visit the auction in person. This saves time and expense and means you can bid on a property from anywhere in the world.

For some, bidding at an online property auction can seem easier too, as it can perhaps feel less intimidating to those who may be uncomfortable in an auction room atmosphere.

Finally, online property auctions are more transparent. It is easier to follow the progress of the bidding on lots compared to a fast-moving auction room. Online property auctions are in some ways safer for the buyer because you are less likely to be drawn into a bidding war and end up paying more than you anticipated.

Are online property auctions here to stay?

Whilst the future of property auctions can’t be accurately predicted, we at Pugh believe more home sellers and buyers are set to benefit from online property auctions in the coming years. Adapting to the digital age has been an ongoing task for millions of businesses worldwide, and the property industry is certainly no different. Buying or selling a property at auction no longer means travelling for miles or taking time off work to attend - because 24/7, worldwide bidding is accessible for everyone.

No longer just a preferred choice for investors, developers, and property professionals, online property auctions are now the chosen option for buying and selling property for a wide range of people seeking a fast and secure method of sale.

A spokesperson at Pugh said: “Over the years we have seen an increase in the number of owner-occupiers using our online auctions to buy and sell property.

We understand that buying and selling patterns have changed since the pandemic and online property auctions are well-suited to these new needs.

Our online auction platform continues to show sustainability and versatility in the recurrent difficult market conditions which is why we are confident that online property auctions are here to stay.”

So far in 2022, Pugh have sold over 300 lots, totalling £40 million, with two more auctions still left before the end of the year.

If you’ve been considering selling a property at auction, book your FREE appraisal today.

And if you’re a buyer in search of new property or land, you can view our upcoming auction dates here.

Will Will Thompson

Associate Director

About the Author

Will is an auction surveyor at Pugh & Co, representing a wide range of vendors, including local authorities, charities, and corporate and private clients, on the disposal of all types of property and land. Will can provide advice on the value and disposal strategies of residential, commercial, and industrial properties/portfolios, as well as sites with development potential. He holds an MSc in Real Estate and is a member of the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers.