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With auctions, always assume the agents are lying to you. Sure, some may tell you the truth, but if you treat everything they say with suspicion, you won’t be as easily hurt. There are so many lies told that you can’t afford to believe anything until you have checked it out thoroughly.
Experienced buyers know that auction houses in Durban under-quote the selling price by about 20 percent. So, if the agent says “Bidding to start from R300,000”, the price is likely to be somewhere around R360,000. If your maximum price is R320,000, be careful. You could spend money on inspections, get your heart set on buying the property and all to no avail.
Get a straight answer from an auction house about the price
Most reputable auction houses in Durban are not interested in deceiving you. They just want you to buy their the assets that are available for sale. They do not want you to be misled or to lose money.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the auctioneer – and the chances are that you will never feel comfortable with an auction agent – tell them almost nothing. Just ask questions. Be strong. Answer any questions by saying, “We are not sure what we intend to do.” Be vague. Use expressions such as ‘maybe’ or ‘might’ or ‘perhaps’ or ‘we are unsure’.
The time and cost of basic research can pay handsomely. Obtain the sales details of similar properties in the area. In Johannesburg and Cape town you can purchase inexpensive price guides from companies like lightstone. Similar information is also available in most areas.
If you feel you have a good chance of buying the property, you should consider contacting a registered valuer for an accurate and unbiased opinion. The money spent on a valuation is well worth the risk.
It would be far easier for everyone if all properties had an independent valuation before they went on Auction. Both sellers and buyers would have the benefit of independent and unbiased information.
However, a valuation, while unbiased, is still only a guide. If you love the property you might willingly pay more than the ‘value’. But at least you have the benefit of a valuation on which to base your decision.
The most important rule at an auction is NEVER BID UNTIL THE PROPERTY REACHES RESERVE. Until then, it is not for sale and it makes no sense to bid on anything that is not for sale. No matter how much pressure you receive, do not play into the agent’s hands by bidding too soon.
The Reserve Price
The reserve price is the lowest price the Auction house in Durban have been able to ‘crunch’ sellers into accepting.
And this is where auctions really favour you as a buyer. You will know the sellers’ lowest price, but no-one knows your highest price.
With the attention on the sellers’ lowest price, buyers save thousands at auctions in Durban.