Multi-property auctioneering breaks new ground in South Africa this week with the first live virtual sale in which all bids will be accepted through a variety of digital channels including Zoom and in-app live stream, off the back of high-tech, detailed 3D virtual property tours already taken by registered bidders from across the country.
High Street Auctions Director and Lead Auctioneer Joff van Reenen says the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the general public’s acceptance of virtual auctions because of lockdown regulations and fears of attending large gatherings, but auction companies have also had go the extra mile in the “new normal” to retain clients and extend their client base.
“At the beginning of the outbreak High Street already possessed the most advanced digital auction platform in South Africa that streamed our live auctions and accepted both real-time and commission bids placed in advance,” he says.
“Since property investment invariably involves such big numbers, though, we had to ask ourselves whether we were doing enough to service both our sellers and instill confidence in buyers that they were getting the full picture – even under lockdown conditions – and the answer was ‘no’.”
Van Reenen says over the past two months High Street has therefore invested heavily in virtual technology that digitises the real estate sale process from beginning to end.
One of those investments and a South African auction first is technology that showcases every seller’s property – whether residential, commercial or industrial – in a full 3D, 360-degree virtual walkthrough format on www.highstreetauctions.com, allowing potential buyers to examine walls, floors ceiling, and fixtures at their leisure from the comfort of their homes or offices.
High Street has also extended its bidding platforms to include telephonic, commission bids with the auctioneer, and live bidding on the High Street app as well as via Zoom on sale days.
Van Reenen says to complete the fully digitised process, High Street has invested in secure digital signature technology for all sale contracts, which means both sellers and buyers can remotely and legally sign all necessary documents and submit them digitally to the auctioneers to speedily secure the transaction.
“Our website traffic volumes this week ahead of the sale at noon on May 14 have been huge; even higher than we saw last year which was a record year for the company.
“Our last auction was in March, the day before lockdown began, and at the time our executive team was admittedly concerned about the way forward because like the rest of the world, we simply didn’t know how the pandemic would play out and whether we’d be able to continue to service our clients to the standard we offered pre-COVID.
“Website traffic numbers and the resultant volume of auction pre-registrations tells us that the technology investment we’ve made to give our local and international clients 3D virtual access to our sellers’ properties has clearly paid off.”
Van Reenen says potential buyers who might previously have been nervous about bidding at an auction will find High Street’s new virtual sales to be extremely stress-free and user-friendly.
“Bidders watching the virtual live stream of the sale through the High Street app on May 14 will not only hear me calling the bid amounts, but they’ll also see the bids appearing in embedded text on their screens. For those people, especially, who are new to auctions it entirely removes the stress from the process.”
Van Reenen says auctions – and specifically real estate auctions – will never be the same post-COVID.
“We are already seeing both buyers and sellers enjoying the new technology as we can do so much more with it, as well as reach anybody with a mobile device.”
The High Street Auctions app can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store and Google Play. The auction live stream is open to public viewing, but only compliant and registered bidders may participate in the sale, which will be streamed live from noon on May 14. The next High Street virtual auction will take place on June 11.
To take a virtual 3D property tour visit https://www.highstreetauctions.com/assets/virtual-tour/110408/index.htm or https://www.highstreetauctions.com/assets/virtual-tour/108910/index.htm.