Sydney homeowner reveals how to win at auction

Sydney homeowner reveals how to win at auction

Charlotte Watkins was able to buy an apartment in Marrickville for over $1 million by using a unique advantage. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Despite 15 other people competing for the property, Charlotte Watkins was able to secure a two-bedroom apartment in Marrickville for more than $1 million and she thinks a “unique” feature of lockdown may have given her an advantage.

Lockdowns prohibit real estate agents in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide from hosting open homes and in-­person auctions.

So Charlotte’s new home went under the hammer online. She’s been renting for the past 14 years in Sydney after moving from London, where she had purchased a house with her friend in her mid-20s.

The now 42-year-old, who sold her UK unit five years ago, has been on the hunt for a home over the years but things never quite worked out.

The leadership coach said she was lucky enough to inspect the Marrickville property before Sydney went into lockdown and faced up to the online auction on July 10.

While she described the experience as a “bit clunky” as people tried not to talk over each other, she said it also helped lower the intimidation levels.

“It certainly takes the emotion out of it online. When you see people physically you can potentially rightly or wrongly gauge where they are at or what they are doing, whereas with online it was very quick, so maybe it did give me an advantage,” she told

“Face-to-face would have gone on a bit longer as the auctioneer does the whole, ‘Come on, guys, it’s worth this much, who’s giving me more’, but that didn’t happen at the online auction.”

Sydney homeowner reveals how to win at auction

She had a cheeky glass of champagne after winning the auction. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

She said the online auction also helped to calm her nerves as seeing 15 people in a room would have been “more intimidating”.

After winning the auction, she had a cheeky glass of champagne before 11am and is excited to move into her own space.

But just one-third of the 1073 homes originally lined up to be placed under the hammer went ahead in Sydney last week, while only 540 property auctions are scheduled for this week.

Yet low auction clearance rates and falling prices could see buyers get a little bit of power back, according to Sydney-based buyers agent Michelle May.

“One of the biggest advantages to online auctions is that you don’t have any pressure or influence from the agents in your ear,” she said.

“Being in the comfort of your own home you can minimise that feeling of being in a pressure-cooker environment. This should help you make less rash decisions and allows you to be a little calmer through the process, giving FOMO a smaller chance to take hold.”

Sydney homeowner reveals how to win at auction

Buyers agent Michelle May has shared her top tips for winning an online auction. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Lockdown challenges

Ms May said that checking out a property without hundreds of other buyers is certainly a win with open houses cancelled, but trying to get a scheduled viewing makes it harder for prospective buyers to even to get their foot in the door.

“Changes to these inspections now also means that only one person can view the property at a time. Even couples will have to split up. This makes it hard to ensure you’re on the same page, and some critical issues can be missed,” she said.

“If you’re looking to buy with someone else, make sure you talk through everything you’re looking for in the property first.”

When it comes to the online auction, Ms May said everything from technical difficulties, pre-registration issues, log-in challenges and even screen freezes mid-auction can pop up.

“Then you have to think about the psychological side behind auctions. At an in-person auction, you can see who you’re bidding against and use tried and trusted strategies to assert yourself and ultimately secure the property,” she said.

“Online, things are very different as you may not see who you’re up against, and it’s harder to stand out as a formidable opponent. You often don’t even know how many people are registered.”

She advised building a strong relationship with the vendor agent before auction.

“Being in contact with them during the auction helps navigate technical difficulties and ensures your bids are always heard,” she added.

Sydney homeowner reveals how to win at auction

Auctions and new listings have dropped since Sydney went into lockdown. Picture: Gaye Gerard/NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia

Property shortages

Lockdown has also seen an impact on the number of new places advertised last month in Sydney, which fell by 13.3 per cent, according to data from

Overall, new listings fell in five out of the eight capital cities through June, with Melbourne down 11.1 per cent.

The fall in listings could be partially attributed to lockdowns, but a lack of listings was also contributing to property shortages, said executive manager of economic research at REA Cameron Kusher.

With the average auction campaign last four weeks, this could have an even bigger impact on listings with vendors spooked by selling in the lockdown climate.

But if you are facing an online auction, there’s plenty of preparation you can do to ensure your best chance of winning, according to Ms May.

Top tips for an online auction

1. Make sure you have the phone number of the agent saved in your phone so that if you have technical issues they are only a text message away.

2. Have a pen and paper handy so that you can write down the bids just in case they don’t pop up on your screen. Writing down the bids will also help you to not get caught up in the emotion and stress of the auction.

3. Be in a quiet space without any distractions.

4. Lock in your maximum bid prior to the auction, as depending on the program used, your competition may still be able to see your face and hear your conversations.

5. Because it is online, you will be asked to transfer your deposit electronically, so if you’re asked to do a direct debit you have to ensure you have lifted your daily transfer limit with your bank in advance

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