Day in the life of an auctioneer - Walking the negotiation tightrope

Day in the life of an auctioneer - Walking the negotiation tightrope
Day in the life of an auctioneer - Walking the negotiation tightrope

Auctioneers have a very public role – every Saturday they’re out trying to sell as much property as possible. It takes a lot of confidence and a lot of preparation.

Property Observer spent one Saturday with Steve Burke and Nicholas Goold from Hocking Stuart Glen Iris to get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of an auctioneer.

We were able to see how auctioneers coax people in to bidding higher and, if an auction passes in, how they negotiate with vendors and buyers to secure the highest price possible.

In this episode of Day in the life we follow Steve Burke to the auction of 1B Cooloongatta Road Camberwell (pictured below the video), a three-bedroom townhouse.

A similar property next door sold for $871,000 last month and Burke is hoping to beat that. But he has to contend with a limited number of interested bidders and a potentially unrealistic vendor.

The negotiations get quite tense and there are lessons to be learned on how to act in such circumstances.

Burke and Goold remind us it’s a complex job that’s not suited for everyone but a job that can do vendors wonders.

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Photos: 1B Cooloongatta Road Camberwell

(Satur)Day in the life

9:00: Arrive at office and start preparation for the days auctions

9:30 Call around to make sure all interested parties will be at the auction

10:00 Leave for the auction and meet the clients

10:45 Auction starts

11:00 Auction ends and negotiations start

12:00 Negotiations finish and time to celebrate then finalise paperwork

13:00 Head to the next auction to repeat the process


It’s a November Saturday in Glen Iris and potential property buyers are out in force, attending and bidding at auction. It’s the modern day battlefield for today’s property buyers. I’m speaking with auctioneers Steve Burke and Nick Goold as they take a number of properties to auction.

I’m Steve Burke from Hocking Stuart Glen Iris, the director here at the company and I’m very excited to have a chat today. We have got a busy day ahead, we have five auctions scheduled today. I’m looking forward out there today in a very strong market and getting some bidding and some very good results for our clients.

My name is Nicholas Goold. I’m a sales exectuve and auctioneer here at Glen Iris as well.

I think it’s seen very much as a glamorous industry. People just see the public side when people are handing out brochues, people are bidding and it’s all very exciting. People drive up in flashy cars. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and that is a lot of administration work, a lot telephone calls, a lot of prospecting. Before you actually get to auction day it can be a two or three year journey.

It certainly takes a specific set of skills and a personality type. Not everyone wants to do it, not everyone is comfortable doing it because you’re a big advertisement for the agency and for the company itself.

We’re driving out to 1B Coolangatta Road Camberwell. It’s a three bedroom townhouse which has been on the market for four weeks with 55 groups coming through. Two or three of those have come back for a second look and Steve’s hoping they’ll be bidding today.

Real estate is all about comparing apples with apples and recently next door sold for $871,000 with another agent so that’s our agent and wer’e certainly hoping to achieve a better result than that today.

There’s a lot of people here today but not many serious bidders. Steve has to try his best to coax bids out of a reluctant crowd. The vendor’s reserve is $908,000. Slightly unrealistic given next door sold for just $871,000.


After a few minutes and another vendor bid of $850,000, it passes in to the young couple for $860,000, well below the vendor’s reserve. Steve must now work to get the two to meet in the middle. The vendor is upstairs in the second bedroom as Steve negotiates at the kitchen table.

This is where the skills of an auctioneer really come into play. It’s a tense situation for the vendor. Steve knows these were one of the few genuinely interested bidders at the auction. Next door sold not that long ago, but that price was pushed up by a bidding war between this couple and the eventual buyer. With their competition out of the way the couple know they’re in a strong position.

We’re just giving the purchasers a few minutes chance – breathing space to work out what they’re prepared to pay and the vendor the same. And we’re looking to see if we can bring the two parties together. We’re being summoned inside.


It’s a very emotional decision for our vendors. We’ve now got an offer of $875,000 and our vendor has come to $880,000 in price. So we’re $5000 away. This is the job of the agent to bring the parties together. And let’s hope we can get a sale sticker up very shortly.

The talks go back and forth for some time, But it seems Steve has pushed the couple as far as he can and they’re standing up to leave the table. This is Steve’s last chance to secure a sale today. He speaks to the vendor one last time with a final offer of $877,500.

*Deal accepted*

It took a lot of back and forth but Steve was able to secure a deal that’s kept both parties more than happy.

The vendor and her recently graduated son will move out after settlement and this young couple can start their new life in Camberwell. For everyone involved it’s time to celebrate.


Basically we’ve got an opportunity to sell her property for her today. A cash unconditional contract which means there’s no cooling off or it’s not subject to finance or any such means. As a result we were able to bring the parties together. It was very close, in percentage terms, to what she actually wants. She had a bit of council from her friends and common sense prevailed. Well done.

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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