Rock-bottom cut-price homes being flogged at less than the cost of a family saloon car drew in hundreds of eager bidders last night.
Whether it was a dirt-cheap suburban three-bedroom in Belfast going for £20,000 or a Ballymena property for a mere £11,000 — bidders were in fierce competition to snag a bargain.
The bulk of homes being sold at fractions of their original values during last night’s BRG Gibson auction in Belfast were those repossessed by the banks — with many people caught out following the collapse of the housing market.
With the bidding hall packed out, hordes of potential buyers squeezed their way in — many forced to stand due to the overwhelming interest in around 80 cheap properties on offer.
Among those sold was a three-bedroom terrace in Dungannon, which went for around a quarter of its original value at a mere £25,000.
But aside from the bottom end of the market, a 21-bedroom stately home in Co Armagh, once valued at around £2 million, failed to sell last month for only £100,000.
Although not on auction this time around, according to the last night’s host the 19th century Castle Dillon was “not too far away from selling” — sitting on an offer of just £112,000.
But although many properties went for peanuts, several homes achieved more than their guide price — with one three-bedroom terrace in Portadown selling for £36,500, two thirds over the guide of only £22,000.
Another three-bedroom home in Portrush with sea views sold for £13,000 over its guide at £78,000.
One of those picking up a property was Allister Mulligan from Moneyreagh — who bought a two-bedroom terrace house in Belfast for £45,000 as an investment.
“It’s to rent out, do a bit of work on it. I think it was good value,” he said.
Another buyer said that he had picked up a “true bargain” with many others in the bidding hall keenly rifling through the brochure to look for the next low-cost lot.
The man with the hammer, director of BRG, Nicholas Gibson, said many people were choosing to avoid buying on the open market and turning to the regular auctions to pick up a cheap buy.
“You can buy a house for as little as £8,000 in Northern Ireland now,” he said.
“There is a lot of activity in the buy-to-let market. There is competition out there getting the market moving.”
The auction house has now run 11 major property sales since November last year.