We bought our property at a commercial buildings auction which was held at Old Trafford – the original one – the Cricket Ground. Having been to a wedding in these grand old rooms overlooking the historic pitch some years ago, I was looking forward to a thrilling cat-and-mouse event involving hand-fans, nods which were as good as winks and Roger Moore eye-brow movements; when we were signposted to the corporate cattle-market rooms, it was clear my mental image needed some adjustment.
Like EBay, all properties have a reserve price which, if not met, the vendor is not obliged to sell; this reserve is mostly not communicated to potential buyers. (This may just be a case of sloppy admin; however I believe it’s all just part of the mind-game mentality that is prevalent in any property transactions and particularly in this auction environment.) Whilst it would seem sensible to me to start the bidding at that reserve price, there’s, no doubt, clever psychology at play when the auctioneer starts things off well below this. The result of this Jedi mind-trick though is somewhat counter-productive as 75% of the properties for sale on the day, didn’t reach their reserve and so didn’t actually sell – thereby wasting the time and energy of the bated-breath bargain hunters who have put in the last bid and quite frankly all of us there on the day.
During the early lots, I spent my time shuffling from one stiletto-heel to the other (have I mentioned that I was expecting something entirely more glamorous?), leaning in an overtly nonchalant way against the Formica partition wall. As our property loomed closer, I felt wriggly inside and out and the potential for sick in my throat was great enough to doubt any audible voice notes might be able to fight their way through, it was fine though because my partner had already told me in no uncertain terms that he would do the bidding: I could concentrate purely on my forced casualness. That and the actual reason we were there in the first place – our lot!
I have no idea what happened in the next few minutes – there was a start point, a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between us and a mystery buyer in the shadowy corners of the room that I suspect was a plant from the property company that we had put the initial offer in with and finally we got it for £500 less than our original offer! Hurrah! We’d fought off the shady competition and the Burton-suited estate agents who’d messed with our heads and finances in the 3-months prior to the auction with irritating details like probate, land registry deeds and property bankruptcy charges. After some paper signing, some pro bono advice from our friendly solicitor friend and a transfer of funds, we got the keys and drove right inside (through the garage door as opposed to an A-Team style celebration wall-crashing) what would become our new home. This is when the Dynamo style mind-bending really started!