David Scholes has seen a lot of changes over his 35-year career as an auctioneer. After personally calling close to 40,000 auctions, there’s one thing he knows hasn’t changed – STRESS.
“Traditional auctions are stressful for buyers, vendors and agents alike,” Scholes says. “People are expected to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes – it forces them completely out of their comfort zone.”
Now Scholes believes the industry is ready to move auctions firmly into the comfort zone for today’s buyers and vendors – and that comfort zone is online. From property search and due diligence to contact management and increasingly, contract exchange and settlement, today almost every step of the property-buying process already happens online. Scholes believes Australia is ready to add the sales transaction to the list.
“People are already doing their research and then all the finishing touches to their property purchases online,” Scholes says, “so why does the industry insist on forcing them offline for the most critical part, determining the purchase price and the purchase itself? Property buyers are driving the demand for online convenience; that’s why innovative agencies are already jumping on board with our platform.”
His new business, SoldOnline, is a rebrand of Australia’s first online property auction platform, AuctionWorksOnline, which Scholes launched a decade ago. Back then, the idea garnered initial attention but wasn’t widely adopted. Scholes believes his first foray into online auctions was simply too premature – “the timing was too early and the market wasn’t ready for it” – while in 2019, his once-revolutionary idea now just seems to make sense.
“We’re offering all the benefits of a traditional auction with the added drawcards of buyer anonymity and the ability to bid from any location,” he says, “and without the high-pressure environment of the onsite auction. Sellers gain exposure from a wider audience and greater engagement, while buyers gain more control, privacy and the convenience of an online service.”
His online auction platform – an assistant, not a disruptor, in the selling process – is already a hit with banks, government, and rural, residential, and commercial agencies who understand the benefits of allowing property to be sold online.
“We have a more educated consumer in our corner now,” Scholes says, “and with big-name, innovative agencies already throwing their support behind us, we know others will follow.”
Scholes has made the right call on new technology before. At his first real estate agency in Willoughby on Sydney’s north shore, he and his team were among the first agencies to adopt 360° property photographs in their marketing. Now he’s certain the online property auction will become the new normal within a few short years.
And if Scholes ever misses calling a ‘real-life,’ onsite auction? The self-confessed “country boy” won’t have to scramble from property to property in the suburbs every Saturday – he can just go back to where he started, calling livestock auctions in rural NSW.