Auctioneer Leon Axford has become an expert at reading the body language of bidders who are deciding whether to buy or walk away from a property.
His skills will be put to the test at this year’s Australasian Auctioneering Competition to be held in Melbourne this October.
The Hornsby local is one of two NSW finalists chosen to take part in the prestigious event run by the Real Estate Institute of Australia and Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
If successful, he would become only the third auctioneer from the State to ever win such a title and would join the likes of John McGrath who claimed it back in the 1990s.
“It is the ‘Everest’ of industry accolades and it is something that really means a lot to auctioneers,” Mr Axford said.
“It is such a great job — you are up there in the centre and controlling what happens.
“I enjoy the strategic side of it and understanding where the buyers are around price and working an auction to get a result.”
The 30-year-old was employed as a commercial and industrial real estate agent when asked to conduct a charity auction. His work was so impressive he was recruited into auctioneering full-time.
For the past six years, he has conducted hundreds of sales under the hammer throughout the Hornsby area, The Hills and Sydney’s western suburbs.
Part of the job requires being able to read the facial expressions of potential buyers and know when they may need more time to decide whether to place an extra bid.
“There is a dead give away when couples are bidding — when you see they are talking to each other then you know that they are close to their budget,” Mr Axford said.
“You are reading how people also place their bids and what kind of increments — if I am asking for $25,000 and they give me $50,000 — that suggests they have good money to spend.
“If they are trying to break down increments early then they are probably not going to be the strongest buyers — it is really reading the play.”
During the competition, the auctioneers are judged on their calling skills plus their ability to cope under pressure.
Mr Axford said one of the worse things a buyer can do at an auction is to remain silent.
“It is a popular strategy — but if you want to buy the home and you have done all the research then this is your chance,” he said.
“Auctions give you an opportunity to see all your competition — if you want to buy, then maybe offer a little bit less than what you are thinking.”