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How estate agents can capitalise on commercial property sales

With an influx of commercial property units coming to the market, Andrew Parker, Managing Director and Auctioneer at SDL Property Auctions, explains how residential estate agents can capitalise on these sales with the help of auctions.

Andrew Parker, MD, SDL Property Auctions

commercial property

The events of the past year have changed the way many of us live, work and shop, which has had an inevitable impact on businesses on our high streets, commercial property and beyond.

As a result, at SDL Property Auctions we are seeing an increase in commercial units coming to the market. This is something we predicted earlier this year, partly due to the looming end to the business rates holiday, which has been extended to the end of June.

While some of these properties are being sold because, sadly, the business has folded, others are offices which are no longer required now that staff are working fully or partially from home. The company may still be operational but require smaller premises for a reduced or hot-desking workforce.

Andrew Parker, MD and Auctioneer, SDL Auctions

Many of our estate agent partners have told us that they, too, are being approached by sellers of commercial properties. I think most residential estate agents would agree that the commercial property market is new territory for them but after such a challenging year they don’t feel they are in a strong enough position to turn away any business… even if the office, retail unit or warehouse they are being asked to sell is not a comfortable fit with the rest of their stock.

Marketing such a property as a residential estate agent can present its own challenges, too, as most branches will have a database of house-hunters looking for their next home, so will have to work doubly hard to reach those interested in investing in a commercial property.

Despite these potential hurdles, the current surge in commercial properties being offered for sale still represents an exciting opportunity for agents. An approach from a commercial property seller is the ideal time for an estate agent to branch out into auctions. Instead of turning away the business, or accepting an instruction which may be inconsistent with the rest of the properties on the agent’s books, they can refer the instruction to us without losing the sale.

The perfect fit

Unfortunately, many people still believe that auctions are only there as a last resort, so will be keen to try the open market route first, even if their property is a perfect fit for an auction. While we can and often do step in to help people get their property sold after they have tried the open market route, achieving secure and faff-free sales for sellers in a matter of weeks or even days, a much quicker result could be achieved for certain properties – and commercial properties are prime examples of this – if the seller had chosen an auction sale from the start.

This ‘last resort’ myth is one which we at SDL Property Auctions are very keen to dispel – and a growing number of sellers are realising that they can cut out a great deal of hassle if they come to us in the first instance.

Auction sales are increasing in popularity because they can be achieved through a regular high-street estate agent. This is particularly rewarding because it means we don’t have to work in competition with agents but can work together.

Everyone benefits. The customer gets a fast, secure sale with the option of no selling fees and almost no risk of a fall-through – our fall-through rates are less than 1% – and the estate agent generates an additional income stream for their branch, receiving payment within days of the sale being agreed instead of months later as they would in a private treaty sale.

With the current rush of commercial property enquiries, there’s no better time for estate agents to diversify into auction sales.”

Some 1,400 estate agents around the country now partner with us in this way to sell properties by auction. We help them to identify which properties would benefit most from an auction sale – and most commercial properties would automatically fall into that category. Once an agent has identified a lead, all they have to do is refer it to us and we do all the work.

Properties can be sold in daily Timed Auctions, in our monthly National Property Auctions and in Buy It Now sales with a fixed price; we help the seller decide which route is best for their circumstances. Whichever method the seller chooses, they benefit from a fast, secure transaction, with completion taking place either 20 or 40 working days after the sale is agreed.

Selling just a few properties by auction each month can significantly boost an estate agency’s income, with no financial outlay or risk. And with the current rush of commercial property enquiries, there’s no better time for estate agents to diversify into auction sales.

July 6, 2021

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