A catch-up with Auction Specialists Amy and Kirsty.
First things first, what does a typical day look like for an Auction Specialist?
Amy: “Although both Kirsty and I have worked at Together for a number of years, the Auction Specialist role is something that’s relatively new to our business.
“Auctions are becoming an increasingly popular method of buying property and as a result, we’ve seen greater demand for auction finance. Together are committed to providing the best service and experience for our partners and customers, which is why we’ve put in place dedicated support for our auction houses and their plethora of buyers (including those new to auction and seasoned property investors).
“Essentially, my role is to manage our relationship with the auctions houses we have exclusive partnerships with, and to support their buyers by making sure we’re accessible both online and in the auction room.
“I look after customers who’ve completed our online Decision in Principle tool, which is free, easy and takes less than five minutes. I’ll also give them a friendly call and make sure all of their questions are answered so they can bid on a property with confidence. I’ll also be a point of contact throughout to make sure our customers have everything they need to get the funds in place so they can complete on time.”
Kirsty: “I’ve been involved in the auction finance world at Together for nearly five and a half years.
“Pre-pandemic, my day-to-day would include travelling around the country, going to the auction rooms and making sure people felt confident and understood the finance options available to them.
“Nowadays, I mostly support the customers we work with regularly - such as those flipping properties or expanding their rental portfolios - remotely, and we’ve still maintained a very strong relationship.
“As Amy’s mentioned, we also have a lot of online tools which made for a smooth transition to virtual property auctions. These include our online Decision in Principle system which allows us to pre-approve a loan before or even during an auction without affecting a buyer’s credit file.
“Our website also allows customers to complete their application for Auction Finance with us online – keeping things quick and simple for those who’ve secured their property, and are now in a race against the clock to complete.”
Amy: “We’ve also got a great presence across our auction house partners’ websites, so we’re still very accessible and able to support our customers just as well digitally. But we’re very much here to add a human touch to that journey.”
Do you think property auctions will return to the ballroom?
Amy: “The wider market has also risen to the challenge and embraced the online format, which has hugely contributed to the success of the auction sector over the last 18 months.”
Kirsty: “There’s a real atmosphere about the auction room that I know many people miss, so the approach moving forward will probably be hybrid – I know that’s a common buzzword these days!
“But many auction houses have been hugely successful so it wouldn’t make sense to go back to the ballroom full-time, especially when the online model allows for greater speed and flexibility (being able to sell more properties on the day at shorter notice). I also think bidding online makes it easier for buyers to stay within what they can afford and not get caught up in the moment or the competition.”
What should we expect from this series of The Great House Giveaway?
Kirsty: “We’re all really proud of our partnership with Channel 4’s The Great House Giveaway.
“The BAFTA-winning property programme returns in May and will once again be presented by actor and developer Simon O’Brien alongside investor and mortgage broker Tayo Oguntonade. The pair will be on hand to guide the show’s contributors through the process of flipping their first auction property.
“To be involved in this hugely successful series is really exciting for us; we get to help people pursue their dreams of homeownership, develop practical renovation skills, and even kick-start careers in property investment.
“We also get to see how the property auctions unfold too, which is particularly interesting in this series as they also take place online.”
Amy: “There’s always a real buzz around the office when The Great House Giveaway is on air, and we’re all proud to see our brand associated with buying at auction on the TV.
“What’s also really interesting is that we get to see the types of properties we regularly fund on a day-to-day basis, and what happens to them next. It’s great to see how people deal with things like structural problems, moving stairs, and how they go about re-configuring and updating outdated spaces.”
Can you talk us through some of the similarities between the episodes and the cases you support?
Amy: “Over the course of the month we’ll see a lot of older properties which haven’t been touched for decades, and therefore it’s not only the carpets and fixtures which are outdated, but also things like windows and boilers.
“Most of the properties on the show (and those we see at auction) have a relatively low EPC rating which could affect their resale value – particularly with rising energy costs at the moment – and whether or not they can be let out in the future, as the Government’s Minimum Energy Standards for rented properties will shift from an E rating to C from 2025.
“Most contributors in the show are focused on giving their properties a cosmetic makeover, but the more seasoned investors and landlords we work with are making energy efficiency improvements as part of renovation work taking place.”
Kirsty: “Many of the clients we work with are seeing this as a long-term investment opportunity, by purchasing properties at auction that some landlords are selling because they aren’t in a position to make the refurbishments themselves.
“Professional investors can bring these properties up to scratch with a few simple changes, including installing a better boiler and making sure the walls and roof are properly insulated, and potentially expand their portfolio faster.”
Amy: “Furthermore, many of the show’s contributors are up against structural issues like damp – one of the many reasons a property can end up at auction because it’s something that a lot of home-buyers are wary of. It’s fair enough, nobody wants their first night in their new home worrying about damp-proofing, replacing windows or filling a large crack in the ceiling. However, it’s exactly these kinds of ‘fixer-uppers’ that prove a great opportunity for property investors and landlords.
Kirsty: “Unfortunately though, some lenders won’t consider providing finance for properties which have these types of poor remarks on valuation reports. At Together, we’ll consider properties of various structures and valuations thanks to our flexible approach to underwriting.
“There’s one particular episode which shows a property purchased without a kitchen. Again, these empty shells can make a lucrative ‘flip’ but are typically very difficult to mortgage. These are the types of purchases we support on a weekly basis.”
Amy: “There’s also an episode which explores a change of use case, as they purchase a property which needed converting from an office space back into a place of residence. We’ll often support more complex changes which require a lot of structural work.”
Kirsty: “In general, we’re seeing more retail spaces and offices converted into residential buildings following the pandemic, not only because the returns are often greater, but the demand is there too. People will always need somewhere to live and to sleep, but we’re far more comfortable now with the idea of working, shopping and entertaining ourselves remotely in the comfort of our own homes. As such, a lot of these commercial properties are becoming vacant.
“Thanks to Permitted Development Rights, it makes sense for buyers at auction to convert these buildings so they don’t get into a derelict state.”
Amy: “You’ll also see on the programme some properties which would’ve made a great HMO or flat conversion opportunity had they been purchased by an experienced property flipper.”
Kirsty: “HMOs make a good investment - not only because yields are high, but because it’s also fairly secure. Even if you’ve only got four rooms out of your six-bed HMO let out, you’re still getting an income.
“We see a lot of properties at auction being purchased for this purpose, particularly around my area in Liverpool because of its large student population.”
Learn more about auction finance.
Thanks Kirsty and Amy!
Whether we’ll see you face to face in the auction room in the future, or you’ll take advantage of our quick and simple online application tools – rest assured, we’ve got the experience to help you complete on time, every time. You can learn more about auction finance here, or head over to our Great House Giveaway hub to discover more from the latest episodes.
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