Low key start to Merlin house auctions


Only two of 10 properties which were up for sale in the first auction by Merlin Property in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel this morning reached their reserve price and sold under the hammer.

There were just 60 chairs laid out in the hotel ballroom where the company's first property auction took place. Many of them were vacant as the auction started. A further two properties were sold after the auction while negotiations are ongoing for three others. Two were withdrawn.

Noel Langrell was in the room to sell a three-bed “maisonette” in Dublin’s East Wall. It had a reserve of €65,000 – a similar property sold for €385,000 four year ago. Sitting alone in the front row, he was clearly nervous as the auction got underway.

“I’ve had it on the market for more than two years and I can’t shift it,” he told The Irish Times . “My grandfather bought it when he moved from Cork to work in CIE. My mother spent all 84 years of her life in the Masionette. I moved out just two years ago to be nearer to my job, but found it difficult to sell through an estate agent,” he said.

He said that if he got “80 grand for it now, I’d be happy,” he said. He did not have long to wait for an outcome. His property was the first lot up. Bidding was initially slow and a maiden bid of €50,000 stood for more than five minutes as Merlin auctioneer Bruce Murphy tried to work some magic. Eventually he coaxed another bidder to make a move and the property eventually reached the reserve of €65,000.

Mr Langrell was a little crestfallen by the outcome. “I thought I would have got a little bit more but I am going to let it go anyway. If I hadn’t put it up for auction, I don’t think I would have been able to get rid of it and it was costing me money all the time,” he said.

A three-bedroom house in Clifden Glen in Co Galway had a reserve price of €69,000 but bidding stopped at €11,000 less than that. Its value just two years ago was put at €205,000. Negotiations are still ongoing between the seller and highest bidder. A two bedroom apartment in Carleton Wharf, Youghal which has a reserve of €69,000 attracted a bid of €65,000. It then sold post-auction for €66,500. Its peak value was said to be €250,000

A four-bedroom family home in Emly, Co Tipperary also failed to reach its reserve. It was being sold by Harry Power. He said he had taken a chance putting it up for auction.

It had a reserve of €130,000 but had only reached €124,000. He was in negotiations with the highest bidder and was confident that it would sell. “We talking money but right now I am going for something to eat and maybe a few stiff brandies,” he said. It finally went for €125,000

Lisa Geoghegan is the property director at Merlin, an auction house more well known for selling repossessed cars that houses. She said she was “very happy with the way things have worked out”.

She said that while the majority of the properties had not reached their reserves, negotiations were ongoing on a number. “Because the sellers are directly involved as opposed to a fire sale involving banks, there is an emotional element to setting the reserve,” she said. “But reality has to come in to play.”

She said declared Merlin’s first steps into the property market a success and said it would be holding another auction on March 20th.

The managing director of Merlin David Byrne said he was “very happy” with the outcome. “The numbers of properties were small but we have had so many enquiries in the run up to this that we predict there may be up to 40 properties in the next auction on 20th March. All these properties were from private sellers. In the future we also hope to auction properties from financial institutions.”