Auctions bloom as rands wither

Cindy Preller

AUCTIONEERS report a busy time of the year for selling properties and household furniture.

Although not that many homes are going under the hammer by local private auctioneers due to owners ending up in financial difficulty, many items of furniture and appliances are being auctioned off due to increasingly difficult economic times.

Best Bid auctioneer Steyn Zeeland said the busy season for selling these items of furniture and appliances started in December already with many businesses closing down and getting rid of their office furniture.

"Sometimes people just clean up and get rid of excess items in their homes this time of the year. We do also get people walking in with tools, televisions and other items they want to sell for cash but we are not a pawn shop and can only supply them with money once the item has been sold on auction," said Zeeland.

Duncan McLaggan of McLaggan's Real Estate and Auctioneers said the year started off busily. The Port Elizabeth-based auctioneer deals in property auctions relating to deceased estates and specialises in commercial, industrial and residential property, as well as farms, land and moveable assets. "When people come under financial distress they do contact us to auction off their homes. Repossessed homes are mostly handled by the banks themselves," McLaggan said.

Aucor auction manager Vincent Moss agreed with McLaggan and said most home owners in financial distress are helped by the banks to save their properties by reinstating new repayment terms. "At the moment it is a buyers' market. We auction mostly commercial properties and we were involved in a few big sales last year. Insolvencies take two to three months to finalise before a business property can be auctioned," Moss said.

FNB home loans head of collections Calvin Ndlovu said falling behind on home loan repayments is very serious, as in all likelihood it is a client's most valuable possession.

"We have various debt remedy programmes that can be tailored to meet the customer's needs. Consumers are encouraged to contact their bank as soon as they realise that they may struggle to make repayments. Falling behind without notifying the bank will result in penalties and makes it much more difficult for the bank to put a debt remedy programme in place."

Ndlovu said the bank has a quick fix programme looking at home owners' full financial position before structuring a repayment programme. "Where arrangements cannot be concluded the bank may recommend that clients place their properties onto the FNB's quick sell programme so we can assist in obtaining a buyer. A sale at the best price minimises any shortfall, and they are at liberty to procure a private buyer," Ndlovu said.

He said that as last resort there are instances where the client is unable to maintain payment arrangements and the bank will then enforce its rights under the home loan credit agreement which could result in a sale in execution of the bonded property. These properties are accessible to the public on websites such as so that the best possible price is achieved.

Standard Bank home loans head Steven Barker said that in the case of clients not being able to meet their financial obligations, steps are taken to help the homeowner sell their property.

"The Standard Bank EasySell plan ensures that the best price possible is obtained as the bank employs the services of an estate agent to market and sell the property. It is our experience that selling through an estate agent is more financially advantageous to the client than a sale through a court sheriff who does not have all the resources available to obtain the best price for the customer."