Spotlight on: Online Auctions

Tuesday 19 March 2019

As the world becomes more technologically astute, there is increasing demand for new and innovative technologies. In Australia, several industries such as the legal and professional services sectors have already been disrupted, with new tools and processes boosting efficiencies and giving businesses and people new ways of working and interacting with their world.

And the real estate industry is no exception, having played host to and embracing significant disruption by ‘property technology’, or PropTech. A now well-accepted facet of Australia’s commercial and residential real estate industries, it’s not showing signs of slowing down. Investment in PropTech companies has been sustained and in fact, is on track to have received $20 billion of investment globally by 2020, according to a report by Real Tech Ventures and KPMG.

However, a less-talked about aspect of the PropTech industry is online auctions. While it’s not new technology – the first online auction platform was created overseas in the mid-1990s – it continues to prove itself as a highly successful and accessible method of sale. This is especially true for a vendor or buyer who may be overseas, for properties far from CBDs, or for those simply not wanting to host an auction onsite.

CI Australia has conducted over 20 online auctions since October 2015 with great success for clients, including divesting a number of assets for Government body Property NSW.

CI Australia Sales Executive – NSW, Fergus Woollcombe said “In our experience the online auction system is hugely beneficial, highly efficient and a great example of PropTech giving a simple alternative to a more traditional process. Some of the reasons we see clients and buyers opting for an online auction is the comparatively stress-free and user-friendly bidding environment, ease of access and transparency.”

The process allows buyers to register and bid for a property entirely online. A sale conducted via online auction adheres to the same legal requirements of an onsite auction, and provides transparency, allowing buyers to track the bids and actions of others.

In the Sydney and broader NSW market, it was AuctionWorks that pioneered the online auction system in Australia, and now successfully operates them here. Founded by David Scholes in 1997, AuctionWorks has grown into an undisputed market leader for both physical and online auctions.

Mr Scholes, who is a licenced real estate agent, stock & station agent and auctioneer said, “Whilst traditional auctions are a highly effective method to sell property, they rely upon people arriving at a specific place at a specific time to bid publicly against others over a period of a few minutes. They are generally conducted on Saturdays which clash with many family and school events. If a bidder cannot attend an auction because they are required elsewhere, it somewhat defeats the purpose of a competitive environment.

“Online property auctions allow bidders to compete from anywhere in the world over a much longer period of time. The process still offers complete transparency but protects the anonymity of buyers and sellers. Our platform complies with Government legislation and creates enforceable contracts.

“We have offered over 750 properties since we commenced operations with the majority being situated in rural and regional areas. With challenging market conditions now being experienced in metropolitan areas, online auctions give property owners the best opportunity to achieve an optimum result. If the vast majority of people search for a property online, why not leave them in their preferred environment to buy it?” Mr Scholes said.

Other forms of PropTech making waves in the industry are tools that provide virtual and augmented reality; online real estate agencies; and physical innovations such as ‘dark stores’ - which a company can operate to cater exclusively for the distribution of e-commerce goods.

As are the construction of office buildings that are smart and sustainable, with the ability to positively influence health and wellness, including monitoring the physical needs of tenants’ employees, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s no longer just start-ups that are spearheading PropTech, either. Some of Australia’s largest commercial property groups are adopting and embracing PropTech in a number of ways.

Here at CI Australia, we continue to witness the impact that PropTech is yielding on the industry. Our experience working with a large pool of investors and tenants has highlighted how PropTech can be successfully integrated into commercial real estate strategy, and how modern businesses can take advantage of tools and technologies, with online auction being just one approach.

Properties we have sold via online auction in recent years include the following. To discuss your property needs or to discuss how and which PropTech developments might be right for you, contact us at


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