Saturday, 6 August 2011


Last week I attended an auction. I'd seen auctions in the movies and on television and as a child accompanied my father to a used car auction but this was the first property auction I had attended live and the first time I felt some emotional involvement in proceedings.

My friend Hn was bidding on a townhouse. A very nice townhouse. Two stories, three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, two large outdoor terrace areas, two car lock up garage and completely renovated. A very nice property indeed. Actually Hn didn't do the bidding. Our friend Ty was registered to bid on her behalf as he, amongst our group, was the only one with experience. Apart from myself, Ae, Je and Be were along for support.

The auction was held on the upper terrace in brilliant sunshine. An auctioneer set himself up with advertising banner for background, a printed and vocal spiel about the relevant law and a well practised line in realtor platitudes.

No one seemed ready to be the first to bid. The auctioneer spruiked the virtues of the property for what seemed like half an hour without a bid being made. In reality it was probably only five minutes before a couple in the corner was the first to blink. Quietly without me even noticing they made the first move and the auctioneer announced that he had... million dollars.

I gulped. I knew the expected sale price had been advertised as above that figure but for some reason the reality of one million dollars being the opening bid shocked me. Slowly the bidding continued, each bidder upping the previous by ten thousand dollars. At each bid the auctioneer made a long drawn out show of concluding the auction and when eventually it appeared he was about to slam his gavel 'sold' another bid intervened.

Ty remained mute. No bid offered. He was displaying nerves of steel but I was becoming unaccountably nervous.

On and on the bidding rose. Just as it seemed the gavel was about to fall for the umpteenth time, Ty bid. Today, a week later I have forgotten what his entry level bid was. I think my own nerves had put me in a catatonic state at that point but suddenly I was alert and, oh so, nervous for Hn.

By now the bidding had passed 1.2 million and the realtor was doing the rounds whispering to the various bidders that the vendor would accept 1.3 million but no one was biting. No one was making that leap and each bidder continued to increase the bids at a more moderate rate.

Three times now, Ty had the highest bid in for Hn and the gavel was falling when another couple raised the bid again. Just these two bidders of the original fifteen registered participants left in the contest. Then Ty jumped twenty five thousand, the largest leap so far.

Would that be it? The auctioneer was into his 'going...going...' phase stretching it out ridiculously, seemingly for fifteen minutes when finally, agonisingly, almost unbelievably and blessedly he slammed the gavel...'SOLD!

Hn had purchased the town house for 1.275 million dollars.

At the time it felt like the auction had lasted hours but in reality it was all over in less than twenty minutes.

An item about the auction appeared in the property section of the local daily during the week from which we learned the vendor's reserve was 1.25 million.

A win/win sale, I guess.

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