PHOTO: Roger Dawson | Harcourts Grenadier
Tuesday 18 August was a milestone for Roger Dawson, one that could have easily slipped under the radar in these tumultuous times. While the rest of New Zealand was coming to terms with an abrupt end to Level 1, Roger Dawson was getting on with business and calling his 10,000th auction.
When it comes to managing through change and uncertainty, Roger is a bit of an expert. The Harcourts Grenadier auction specialist began his real estate career in 1983 and has been navigating sellers through sometimes choppy economic waters for over 30 years.
“This is just one of many uncertain environments we’ve been through, particularly here in Christchurch,” says Roger. “The stock market crash, the GFC, the earthquakes…but the reality is people still buy and sell houses in uncertain times. Their family is growing, someone has died, a marriage has broken down, they’re retiring, they want to reduce their costs. The reasons are generally the same regardless of what else is going on in the world.”
On the 18th of August, one week into alert Level 2, Roger’s 10,000th auction was 39 Lynfield Ave in Ilam. There was an offer of $730,000. The property sold for $784,000. A great result in any market. But in a career spanning three decades and a long list of accolades, Roger says not every auction is as uneventful as that one was.
“I called an onsite auction in Merivale back in the early 90s that I’ll never forget,” says Roger. The property went on the market at $303,000 which is remarkable in itself he says, given the average price in the area is now well over a million dollars. “There were three bidders who bid it up to $315,200 – in $50 dollar increments. That’s 244 bids of $50 each! It turned into a rather loud verbal stoush between the three of them. Needless to say, the onlookers found it very entertaining.”
Roger has seen it all in his 30 years of putting properties under the hammer. “One of the big changes I drove back in 1993 was the introduction of the pre-auction procedure, which ensures that all interested buyers are notified if there is an offer made on the property prior to auction,” explains Roger. “Without such a process, sellers were accepting offers and missing out on the competition between bidders at auction. Likewise, buyers were missing out on properties that never made it to auction. Now most real estate companies have a pre-auction procedure, which makes the auction process better for sellers and fairer for buyers.”
Auctions have come a long way since then. “When I started, auctions were a last resort. Now sellers and buyers are much more comfortable with the auction process. In Christchurch, 40-50% of properties are auctioned. I always advocate auction as the first option to get the best price for a property – but of course I am an auctioneer!”