Homes Under The Hammer TV star on his ‘accidental’ rise to fame
- Credit: Archant
Devon auctioneer Scott Gray reveals the tricks of his trade
The shiny wooden gavel resting on Scott Gray’s kitchen worktop is well worn. Gifted to him by his late father, this pleasingly tactile tool of the trade has closed the bidding hundreds of times during Scott’s 14-year career as a property auctioneer.
“It’s a bit like your favourite putter on the golf course,” says Scott, who has often appeared on the popular BBC series Homes Under the Hammer. “You know where you are with it.”
Scott, who lives in Exmouth, first used his trusty gavel in 2006 when he sold a house in Cornwall for £166,500 to a round of applause from the audience gathered inside Plymouth Auction Rooms.
The moment was captured on camera by a team from Homes under the Hammer, there filming for the show where experts follow several lots at auction to find out what happens to the properties once they are developed and re-sold.
With his easy rapport with bidders and a refreshing sense of humour, Scott, 42, who was working for Fulfords auctioneers at the time, soon became a regular contributor to the property programme.
“It was great fun,” says Scott, admitting he can’t bear to watch himself back on the telly. “Oh no,” he says. ‘I just think, why was I wearing that? Or, my tie’s not straight!”
After years appearing on television, Scott has just launched his own online business, 247 Property Auctions. The aim is to provide a convenient way for people to bid for land or buildings at home or on the phone instead of travelling miles to sit in an auction room with hundreds of people. It’s the way forward in these uncertain times. But Scott says he sensed a shift before coronavirus hit.
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“In the back of my mind, I could just see the number of auction buyers were diminishing,” says Scott, who has also worked for Exeter’s Clive Emson Auctioneers. “Although the rooms were full – lots of bums on seats, which helps me out as an auctioneer – they typically weren’t the ones buying. They were just people there for a day out.
“In my head, I could see this becoming more of an online forum.”
Despite setting up 247 Property Auctions just before lockdown, Scott says business has been steady. He echoes the sentiments of local estate agents who say they’ve never been so busy, with more people looking to leave crowded cities to head for the Westcountry.
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Scott’s picking up work all the time, listing another three properties today and one tomorrow.
But does he miss the buzz of the ‘ballroom’, as it’s known in the auctioneering world? All that banter, the local characters, the thrill of the chase towards that reserve price - and beyond?
“I do enjoy that side of it,” says Scott. “I become a different person – I sound quite professional! I walk in and think: can we have a bit of fun with these guys? Or do I have to be a bit more sensible? And then you get the first lot and as an auctioneer, you’re trying to get above the reserve. That then gives you a really good footing for the rest of the auction.”
Some first-time bidders are understandably nervous when they walk into the auction room, preparing to part with hundreds of thousands of pounds. Scott spends a lot of time helping to put people at ease.
He also makes a point of visiting every property he’s helping to sell. Knowing the place inside out can help a doubting client decide to bid another £1,000 if they know they could turn an outbuilding into an extension.
While we chat, Scott slips into character and explains how he works the room to get the bids up and the tension building as people nod and raise their hand to seal the deal – sometimes worth millions of pounds. Then the gavel comes down.
“That’s a great feeling,” he says. “You think: brilliant. That’s done. Let’s move onto the next one.”
Perhaps he could create an online gavel? “I suppose the virtual version is that last bit when the property has hit the reserve. It’s flashes up that you are the highest bidder,” he says, agreeing that it’s perhaps not quite as much fun.
“But it’s not all about that at the end of the day,” he says, adding that he’s hoping to
continue working as a freelance auctioneer alongside his online business. That way he still gets to enjoy the more traditional side of the industry while moving with the times.
“If the perfect chocolate box cottage came up that has to be sold in a public arena for whatever reason, I can still offer that,” says Scott. “I wouldn’t steer it online if I’m not sure that’s going to be the best way.”
Looks as though his gavel won’t be boxed away just yet.
GIFT OF THE GAVEL
Scott’s gavel was given to him by his late father. “It was his best mate’s grandfather’s, who did a bit of auctioneering,” explains Scott, adding that no one in his family has an auctioneering background. “It’s been through the wars though. It dropped out of my pocket at a charity auction and smashed.”
An auction buyer offered to repair it, inserting a metal rod through the handle. ‘It’s quite heavy now but it’s not going anywhere!” says Scott.
SCOTT’S EXMOUTH AND EXETER
Places to eat:
El Olivo - tapas restaurant, The Strand, Exmouth.
Rendevous - Southernhay East, Exeter
Places to drink:
Spoken & The Grapevine, The Strand, Exmouth - great selection of beers and wines in each with the latter brewing Crossed Anchors, proving very popular across the UK.
Doctor Inks Curiosities, Exeter Quay.
Places to visit:
Exmouth Seafront and Jurassic Coastline.
Exe Estuary Trail, from Exmouth to Topsham.
Exeter canal with walking/cycling down to Double Locks and Turf Locks.
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