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Long road to the top for NZ’s champion auctioneer

10 years, 8 finals: The long road to the top for New Zealand’s champion auctioneer

While many of us will have attended an auction at some point in our lives, the art of auctioneering remains a mystery to most.

Competing at the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) National Real Estate Auctioneering Championships is a bit like competing in the New Zealand Open or the Coast to Coast. Professional auctioneers train for this annual event with a level of commitment similar to that of an elite athlete.

As a former competitive swimmer for New Zealand, Aaron Davis of Harcourts Blue Fern Realty in Henderson knows what it takes to compete at the very top.

“To the average person, auctioneering looks easy”, said Davis, “but that’s because a professional auctioneer makes it look easy.”

Davis has been calling auctions for Harcourts for 10 years and has trained at the Missouri Auction School in the U.S., the world's biggest and oldest school for aspiring auctioneers. He's made it to the finals of New Zealand's national championships eight times, but after missing out on the top spot seven years in a row, Davis decided it was time to change his mindset.

"It just takes one small slip up; you get a number wrong or you don’t handle a question as well as you’d like. The negative self-talk in your head can quickly take you down. This year I said to myself, just do the best performance you can on the day and stop over-thinking it.”

It seems to have worked a charm. Davis took out the top spot after two gruelling days of competition against 27 of the country’s most experienced auctioneers.

A good auctioneer requires a high level of industry knowledge, excellent communication and numeracy skills, and most importantly, the ability to build rapport with people from all walks of life.

“Auction competitions are not the same as a real auction”, said Davis. “It’s all scripted, but there are always plenty of curve balls thrown in. You have to think on your feet and then there’s the pressure of being scrutinised by the judges. It's a pretty intense environment."

In the weeks leading up to the competition, Aaron practices for several hours a day over and above the ‘on the job training’ he gets as a full time auctioneer. “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been calling auctions”, says Aaron, “you need to be constantly perfecting your skills to get the best result.”

The top two spots in the senior competition were both won by West Auckland auctioneers, with Robert Tulp from Harcourts Cooper & Co in Hobsonville named the runner up to Aaron Davis’ win.

“The quality of the auctioneering can have an enormous impact on the outcome of an auction", said Harcourts Managing Director, Bryan Thomson, "so it’s gratifying to see so many of our auctioneers competing and winning at this level year after year.”

And like any good sporting event, the Kiwis love to take on the Aussies. Aaron Davis and runner up, Robert Tulp, will do just that when they represent New Zealand at the Australasian Auctioneering Championships in Melbourne this October.


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