South Africa

How to Get the Real Deal When It Comes To Auctions

Auctions, auctions everywhere, but not all are the same. That’s the word from Park Village Auctions’ Clive Lazarus, commenting on the flood of new players in the market. Clive cautions buyers against scammers and provides tips on how to discern a worthwhile auction.

“The lockdown served to accelerate the market’s adoption of online auctions by buyers and sellers alike.” says Clive who adds, “Unfortunately though, opportunist scammers have been quick to piggyback on this phenomenon.”

This is not the first time that PVA has spoken out about bogus auctions. The company has been actively campaigning via news and social media for months, with their advice quoted in the Business Day.

PVA implores consumers not to any deposits unless they have verified the business, the banking details and the physical whereabouts of the asset in question. Says Clive: “Don’t be afraid to scrutinise, established auctioneers will be able to prove their details without hesitation. Imposters will a close variation of a reputable auction house’s name or claim to be ‘trading as’ to dupe you.”

Previews are crucial too, “If you’re unable to view the asset yourself, send someone on your behalf to confirm its existence—it’s always wise to view the condition of the asset before bidding, too.”

The South African Institute of Auctioneers, SAIA—of which Clive Lazarus has served on the board for several years—has also issued a stern warning to the public that includes a list of known scams and fly-by-night outfits.

Clive: “Auctions have always presented an ideal way to acquire quality second-hand assets at better-than-market rates. It would be a shame to have the industry marred by dubious players just as a new generation of buyers emerges.

“That being said, once you’ve verified the legitimacy of an auction, remember that there’s a lot more to auctioneering than standing on a podium—or accepting online bids.

“It [auctioneering] is an art, perfected in years’ of practice conducting an auction that’s lawful and fair to sellers’ and buyers’ best interests.”

Clive points out that the best deals might not necessarily be online. He explains that a reputable, experienced auction house will arrange either an on-site; online or webcast (real-time simultaneous on-site and online) auction depending on the nature of the sale and the applicable target market.

For this reason, there may be better bargains available via an auction that accommodates those without the means to attend online (due to data or technical proficiency).

Clive: “The most prudent and practical advice I can offer to anyone who wants assurance of legal compliance and a pleasant experience is:

  • Stick with firms that had an established reputation before lockdown
  • Check to see if they are registered SAIA members
  • Choose organisations with which auctioneering is their core function

“Furthermore, look out for auction listings on their website and in dedicated auctions pages such as this. Then, you can be sure you’re finding assets that stem from reliable sources, and you will get professional support,” Clive concludes.