Rookie first-time buyers lined up alongside seasoned property developers as scores of houses across Northern Ireland were put up for grabs at rock-bottom prices.
More than 400 eager would-be buyers packed into the Stormont Hotel in Belfast last night in search of a bargain at a sale organised by BRG Gibson Auctions Ltd.
A total of 66 properties featured — ranging from sprawling mansions to more modest two-bedroom terraced houses.
Among the lots was a 21-bedroom property dating back to 1845.
Castle Dillon in Armagh had a guide price of just £210,000.
A representative of the auctioneers staging the event said that, while it is currently in a state of disrepair, the same property in good condition would have fetched up to £2m at the height of the boom.
The highest bid last night was just £100,000.
A terraced property in Ballymena — valued in the region of £75,000 just five years ago — was snapped-up for a mere £19,000.
The hammer fell on another terraced property, in Killburn Street, Belfast, for just £21,000 — a quarter of its former value.
A former bar in Portaferry which boasts five bedrooms and two receptions attracted a highest bid of just £50,000, while another five-bedroom property in Dungannon received a top bid of £37,000.
According to the auctioneer, the property, if completed to a good standard, would have fetched in the region of 10 times that in the past.
A fire-damaged three-bedroom semi-detached villa in Craigavon — once valued around £90,000 — attracted a bid of just £25,000.
While several of the 66 knockdown lots on offer were sold on the night, negotiations on many others were expected to continue after the event.
One couple who snapped up a house for a third of its previous value said they were delighted with their acquisition.
“We came on the off-chance of getting a bargain and we did,” they said.
Two tradesmen from Magherafelt said while they hadn’t purchased anything they were heartened at the deals on offer for those looking to invest in property.
“There are some real bargains out there,” one said.
Northern Ireland house prices have fallen sharply by almost a tenth over the past year — the greatest drop in the UK. Belfast has also been ranked as the worst performing city in the UK, with prices down by 14% in the past 12 months. The average property price in Northern Ireland is now £107,719, a 9.3% downturn since last year.