Monday, July 4, 2011

They're all at it now...Merlin Group to try its magic on property auctions | The Post

Merlin Group, the Dublin business best known for its car auctions, is entering the property auctioneering business with plans for a mass auction of around 75 properties in early autumn.

The firm has invested heavily in setting up a new unit, Merlin Property, and is in discussions with banks and receivers ahead of the first auction, to be held in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel. David Byrne, managing director of Merlin Group, said that it hoped to hold up to five ‘‘grandstand’’ property auctions a year, and would also hold smaller events.

The property division will employ ten people and expects to create 40 jobs over the coming year, including jobs for valuers, property negotiators and estate agents. Byrne would not comment on the cost of the new division, but said it had ‘‘invested heavily’’ in technology and professional advice. ‘‘We intend to go after this market full-force," he said.

Merlin Property hopes to attract professional buyers to its auctions, as well as individuals. It will sell residential and commercial properties, including ‘‘the more difficult-to-sell properties’’, such as ghost estates. The catalogues for the auctions will be available on, with a four-week viewing period before an auction.

‘‘We’re building a database of potential investors in Ireland and overseas. We’ve conducted meetings with wealth managers in London and Glasgow.

The message is that Ireland is a good market and you can make a return," said Byrne.

He described Merlin Property as a ‘‘turnkey’’ service that would source buyers and sellers, and provide property management services for buyers who wanted to let out the properties they bought. ‘‘It makes it more attractive to buyers if we have a full turnkey package, rather than being left to their own devices after buying a property at auction," said Byrne.

He said that the idea for a property unit arose more than a year ago, as the company already had relationships with banks and receivers from its sales of cars and machinery. Its Ganly Craigie business is already involved in selling land, including farmland and quarries, as well as heavy machinery and construction equipment.

‘‘We decided this is the right time to do it, rather than being too early or too late," he said. ‘‘Speed to market has become crucial because the cost to institutions of holding on to properties can quickly stack up. We know from experience that realistic reserve prices create successful auctions. There has to be value for the buyer and the seller."

British auction firms Allsop and Space will hold their second Irish auction this week, when 87 residential and commercial properties will be available. Their first auction in April attracted huge interest and 81 of the 82 lots were sold.

However, auctions by other firms have been less successful, with two properties out of 65 selling at a recent auction in Cork.

The Merlin Group has been in business since 1974, and employs 75 staff between its car auction business, Ganly Craigie, car sales and car rental. Merlin Property is being headed by Lisa Geoghegan, a former estate agent

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