Meet The Locals: Ben Mitchell, Auctioneer Extraordinaire

Ben Mitchell, an auctioneer who regularly calls property auctions for Clark Estate Agents, has overseen sales ranging from high-rise buildings to carparks with harbour views.

Over the last two years of Covid restrictions, Ben has moved from in-person to online auctions; a change that is revolutionising the way real estate is sold in Australia.

We recently had a chat about auctions and his ideas about the future of the real estate.

Hello Ben! Tell me, how did you become an auctioneer?

Straight out of university, I bought into a small real estate agent in the Illawarra. It grew and at its peak, I owned 6 real estate offices with 53 salespeople and had a master franchise over 18 offices. I then worked in corporate roles with some of the largest agent groups in the country before starting my own auction business, Sold Buy Auction.

So far this year, I have conducted 1900 auctions and there are still two months to go. I now call auctions for over 250 agents including, of course, you and your team at Clark Estate Agents.

What do you enjoy most about being an auctioneer?

I’m an extrovert so I love the adrenalin buzz of helping people sell their property. I get to enjoy the high fives when a property sells. I feel like I’m kicking the winning field goal of a grand final every time!

Real estate is one of the biggest industries in the country and I think I’ve seen just about every type of sale. I’ve auctioned everything from resorts and high-rise buildings to farms and water rights. One of the most memorable was auctioning a single car space with multi-million-dollar views for $180,000.

You’ve had a front-row seat in real estate over the Covid period. What have you seen happen?

It has been an extremely busy two years, and 2021 is our busiest spring ever.

A big part of this is the use of technology in real estate and auctions. With Covid restrictions limiting attendance at inspections and auctions, there’s been a huge shift to virtual walkthroughs. We have a lot of people purchasing property sight unseen.

It’s not just inspections that have changed. We’re now conducting auctions online, or using a hybrid model where there are people onsite and others bidding remotely. This tech has been around for several years, but it came into its own during Covid-19 restrictions. It is revolutionising the industry.

During the most recent Sydney lockdown, I conducted 500 auctions from my home while wearing ugg boots!

Tell me more about the use of technology in real estate, especially during lockdowns.

A traditional auction has a sense of street theatre. It creates competition and also transparency, as bidders can see where their bid sits in front of a crowd.

Thinking of selling?

Just researching the market?

We take that transparency and move it into the digital space. With the platform we use, Auction Now, every bid is registered so a permanent record of the sale process is created as the bidding happens. This ensures full transparency for everyone.

During lockdowns, I’ve missed the social interaction of in-person auctions. I long to get back to high fiving the purchaser. But, the online medium is also very successful and the fact that we can now have a hybrid model is great.

What’s it like running an auction online?

Online auction platforms, like AuctionNow (full disclosure: I’m an Account Director), means we can include buyers from anywhere in the world.

As an auctioneer, I take an online or hybrid auction at a slower pace. At the start, we ensure everyone has their technology working and then, in the end, I make sure that everyone has had a chance to place a bid.

The slower pace makes for a more relaxed environment. People can bid comfortably from home with their family and trusted advisors around them.

Lockdowns will soon, hopefully, be a thing of the past. How do you see real estate working in the future?

Technology in the property (in the industry, we call it ‘proptech’) is here to stay. Platforms like Realtair and AuctionNow are part of the future. Even simple things like checking bidders’ registrations at the start of an auction is so much quicker.

Technology is not going to take away from the important role of an agent. What technology can do is free them up from paperwork to allow them more time for meaningful conversations with buyers and sellers.

From a virtual walkthrough to bidding, buying and exchanging contracts, all of it can be done from someone’s living room. That’s a game-changer for the industry.

Thanks for sharing your experience and insights, Ben. See you – in person or via a screen – at Clark Estate Agent’s next auction!

To find out more about online auctions, visit AuctionNow.

Article by Brendon Clark
‘The details matter - through every part of the process.’ With decades of runs on the board alongside a fresh outlook, Brendon is co-director of Clark - and one half of one of Sydney’s most dynamic and successful real estate duos. Having carved out a reputation for results in the… Read More
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