Australian auctioneers have again failed to usurp our New Zealand cohorts in the 'Bledisloe Cup of real estate' - the Australasian Real Estate Institutes' Auctioneering Championships.
Andrew North, auctioneer from Harcourts Cooper and Co on New Zealand's north shore and also 2013 NZ Real Estate Auctioneer of the Year took the top prize out of the pool of talent that featured two local New Zealanders and three Australians.
Kiwi Daniel Coulson, winner of the 2013 and 2012 competitions, failed to retain his form and joined Victorian Harry Li and Queenslanders Justin Nickerson and Jason Andrew on the finalist table.
The finalists were chosen out of 16 contestants, with the competition requiring auctioneering a multi-million dollar home from a pre-scripted bidding sequence complete with audience interjection, sneaky side deals and interjection from fellow auctioneers turned bidders.
Speaking exclusively to Real Estate Business, winner Andrew North said the bidding sequence is really tough and he had been schooling up on how best to present what he considered his weakness: communicating figures.
"The bidding sequence is a really tough one as it is more about arithmetic than being an auctioneer, but that's what we need to do - I think I matured this year," Mr North said.
"That maturity probably came from being there in previous years, experiencing it and missing out and I guess that gives you the experience to know what the judges are looking for and where I need to improve... this year I did some things differently in terms of preparation, learning more about presenting numbers and the sequences and patterns that affect auctions.
"For me it was all about trying to make the audience smile, trying to recreate a moment or experience, and you really have to be careful with that, so the safest form of humour to use at an auction is self-depreciation and there is a fine line between picking on a bidder and doing something funny - just because people laugh, doesn't mean you are funny."
Mr North dismissed any concerns that a competition auction is not a real representation of reality. He said both are a bit like a game of cricket.
"You have your one dayers and test matches. It is the same sport but the challenge is you need to please the judges, who will gauge your performance on crowd reaction,and that is the challenge. It's not stand-up comedy but a serious business and a great test of your accuracy and understanding of the law that all happens at a rate of knots - humour is important but you have to use the right type," Mr North said.
Mr North was full of praise for the Australian contingency and is currently undecided as to whether he will defend his title next year. However, his sense of duty to the up-and-comers may sway his decision.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O’Sullivan said the good-natured humour and trans-Tasman rivalry belied the serious nature of the competition.
"While we love a contest with the Aussies, it is the pursuit of excellence on the part of experienced auctioneers and the inspiration to others commencing their careers that is at the heart of this contest,” Ms O'Sullivan said.
Real Estate Institute of Australia CEO Peter Bushby said the championships encourage professionalism and skill in the art of conducting an auction, with REIQ Antonia Mercorella saying both Jason and Justin did the state proud.
Ms Mercorella said just making it into the finals is an enormous achievement.
“They’re both a credit to the Queensland real estate profession and a great advertisement for the skill and dedication each brings to auctioneering," Ms Mercorella said.