Consumer choice should be at the heart of every transaction

The Negotiator talks to the two men behind property services group, iamproperty and the UK’s largest online residential auctioneer, iamsold – Jamie Cooke and Ben Ridgway.

In recent months, record figures and reports by NAVA Propertymark of a shortage in auctioneers and the sector not able to keep up with demand has taken much of the sector by surprise. Jamie Cooke and Ben Ridgway, the founders of iamproperty, pioneered the Modern Method of Auction with iamsold in 2009, to bring more choice to the market. iamsold, part of the iamproperty Group, is now the UK’s largest online residential auctioneer and 11 years later, the pair are still campaigning to ensure all clients are offered a choice when it comes to selling and buying properties. We caught up with them to get their views on the future of auction and Private Treaty property sales.

With all the recent positive press surrounding MMoA, it must be a great to see auction break into the mainstream in a big way?

JC: When we launched our iamsold offering, it was because we knew there was a gap in the market. We wholeheartedly believe that consumers deserve choice when it comes to buying and selling their property and agents should be empowered to give them that choice. It may seem sudden to the market, but we’ve been on
a consistent upwards trajectory, and it has only been accelerated by recent events and shifting consumer behaviour.

What do you think has been behind the recent popularity of auction?

BR: In the last 10 years, tech has enabled fundamental changes in our purchasing behaviour and created new levels of trust. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but most people want instant results, speed, and optionality. You look at online shopping, applying for jobs, online education and so on, so much of our lives are conducted online. In our sector, it started with the property portals and their huge success, showing that by embracing tech you can make efficiencies and create a better experience for both agents and clients. The move to online during lockdown drove agents and clients to embrace digital methods and acted as a forceful nudge for a sector that needs to continue to develop modern ways of doing things.

JC: On top of that, the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday put a deadline on everyone’s desired completion timeframes and led to an explosion of demand for auction. It was one of the only ways where buyers and sellers could guarantee to meet those deadlines as it offers a fixed 56-day timescale*. It provided a solution for many, with speed and transparency at the core.

Should everyone consider auction, given the timescales for Private Treaty transactions?

JC: The goal has never been about turning the property market on its head and making auction the only method of sale available. It’s about choice. Consumers are finding auction organically and more and more agents are adding it to their service offering. It’s now up to the sector to look at a way to standardise the approach for all consumers to find the method of sale best for them. Understanding circumstances and priorities should be embedded within the onboarding process for every client, with agents then recommending a method of sale based on what the client is telling them.

The goal has never been about turning the property market on its head. It’s about choice.’

We’ve done some early analysis of this with agents who use the ‘Method of Sale Audit’ function within iamproperty movebutler and 46 per cent of clients were recommended for auction as an option based on their circumstances. When you consider that auction still only accounts for 2-3 per cent of UK property sales, it indicates that there are a lot of people out there who aren’t being given enough information or being given the right choices aligned to their circumstances.

So Private Treaty isn’t on its way out?

BR: Absolutely not far from it, but that’s not to say it isn’t in need of modernisation. The current completion timescales are unsustainable. As is the pressure on agents and conveyancers who are struggling with huge workloads and outdated processes. Offering clients more choice in their method of sale and making efficiencies in the Private Treaty process are not mutually exclusive. Just as tech can enable buyers to find and bid on a home and complete in 56-days with MMoA, proptech can also help agents to speed up the Private Treaty process for their clients, help them to stay AML compliant and reduce their risk of sanction and automate admin to save time.

By embracing tech you can make efficiencies and create a better experience.’

Within the conveyancing module of iamproperty movebutler, our solicitor panel comparison tool puts the consumer at the heart of that decision by allowing them to choose a solicitor based on their needs, whether they’re looking for speed, the highest-rated, or the cheapest, acknowledging that not everyone is driven by the same motivations.

The industry is changing rapidly and choice and experience should always be at the heart of that change. We are on a mission to modernise the home moving process for everyone and bring much needed speed to the sector no matter what method of sale a client chooses.

Find out more about MMoA and end-to-end moving platform, iamproperty movebutler at iamproperty.com.

*based on iamsold average completion times for standard property types.


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