Strong year for auction industry

The auction industry experienced a strong year driven by demand for commercial property in a climate of low interest rates and a stable currency.

Rael Levitt, Asset Alliance's Chief Executive, said: "The year showed particularly strong growth in the Southern African auction industry, largely off a strong commercial property market evident in most urban areas.

"Low interest rates, strong business confidence and a stable currency fuelled demand for investment real estate and the majority of the group's sales arose from this market sector."

Asset Alliance includes subsidiaries Auction Alliance and Valuation Alliance. Multiple auction sales, which Auction Alliance pioneered in South Africa, resulted in a larger number of properties coming to the market and higher prices being achieved. Levitt said Auction Alliance was the catalyst for a host of auction companies and brokerages introducing the multiple real estate auction concept throughout South Africa. Auction Alliance introduced the Australian concept earlier this year.

"The fact that so many companies have introduced these auctions means that the system works and certainly in the commercial property market a new platform for property transactions has been created."

Auction Alliance hosted 1 200 auctions this year generating more than R2 billion worth of sales. Levitt said the group's traditionally strong agricultural branches had busy first and second quarters, particularly in the Northern Cape. But the sales of farms and agricultural equipment had slowed down substantially. Other busy auction sectors included manufacturing asset sales particularly in clothing, apparel and furniture, which were triggered by forced sales because of international competition and the rand's strength.

During the year, the holding company was renamed Asset Alliance to reflect the company's aim of becoming a diversified asset sales and services business.

"After the launching of our stand-alone valuation company, Valuation Alliance, which in turn acquired the business of Crosher James Davis Langdon, we became the country's largest valuers, with a branch network round the country and an average of 1 000 valuations being conducted monthly," Levitt said.

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