ACT’s top two auctioneers bidding for glory at Australasian championships

Ian Bushnell 7 August 2018

Peter Blackshaw Manuka auctioneer Alec Brown in action. Photos: Supplied.

The high-pressure world of competitive auctioneering isn’t for the faint-hearted but for those who put themselves under the judges’ hammer, the rewards can be immense.

The ACT’s top two exponents this year will go to the Australasian finals in New Zealand in October after battling it out at the Real Estate Institute of the ACT’s annual auctioneering championships at the Hellenic Club in Woden.

Four senior and six novice agents showed their mettle in the auctioneer of the year and novice auctioneer of the year competitions before a judging panel that included James Pratt, Raine & Horne Australia/International director of auctions; Bob Jury, of Bob Jury Auctions; and Josephine Huynh, Allhomes editor.

Mark Larmer, of Independent Property Group Inner North & City, and Alec Brown, of Peter Blackshaw Manuka, will represent the ACT in the Australasian Real Estate Institutes’ Auctioneering Championships in Auckland.

Both admit competitive auctioneering is a much tougher environment than your average Saturday auction but it makes them much better at what they do and more able to represent their agency and their clients.

“I do it to make me a better real-life auctioneer,” said Mr Larmer, a two-time ACT winner and now off to his third championships. “You put yourself through this sort of thing, the training you’ve got to go through, to better handle situations. It means you’re so much better skilled.”

Mr Brown, whose experience at last year’s championships in Adelaide whetted his appetite, said he was thrilled to be announced as a finalist again this year.

“Back to back is always fun and rewarding. That competition, for any auctioneer, is a good opportunity to improve on your skill set,” he said.

“You’re working on skill sets that nine times out of ten you’ll never have to face on a weekend but if you do have something that’s particularly challenging you’ve already been there, done that.”

Mark Larmer is a two-time ACT winner and now off to his third championships.

Mr Larmer said the competition was difficult and confronting, with six judges critiquing performances and how auctioneers responded to unpredictable bidding, unscripted questions and varying scenarios.

And no scribing is allowed, so everything has to be kept in a competitor’s head.

Mr Larmer said auctions had moved to another level with bidders smarter and more strategic, and no longer responding to dated approaches or pressure tactics.

Often there were massive transactions with big numbers and when disputes arose it was up to the auctioneer to calm the situation and resolve them.

“You have to take that in your stride and keep the momentum of the auction. A good auction should have a flow and a momentum, like a singer who can hold a tune and keep a song going,” Mr Larmer said.

Both auctioneers face 10 weeks of intensive training before going to New Zealand, involving mock auctions, a lot of maths and memory exercises.

The stiffest competition will come from the Kiwis, especially on their home turf.

“They very much have it running through their blood,” said Mr Brown.

These top two auctioneers will know who ranked first and second when the ACT winners are announced at the REIACT Excellence Awards on September 15, as will Novice of the Year contestants Jenna Dunley, Ben Lewis, Aaron Dixon, Rick Meir and Jack Flynn.

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