Our first sale of 2016 was held in February and the strength of the market seen in December continued into the New Year where we raised £76 million achieving a success rate of 92%. Grade A retail yields remained firm at 6.3% and 76% of all lots sold in the room were sold above the reserve (72% in December), signifying the continued depth of demand.
Our March auction, the largest March sale held since 2007, raised £102 million and again achieved a success rate of 92%. We saw an increase in regular buyers being successful on the day with 88% of buyers having bought from us before (86% in February) and an increase in buyers looking outside of their region for stock with 56% of buyers being ‘non-local’ (51%) in February. Grade A retail yields hardened to 5.7% from 6.3% in February. The strong results from our first two sales of the year contributed to a 55% increase in sales realisations for Q1 vs the same period in 2015.
With little sign of the impending turmoil in the political world, the May sale saw a significant hardening of retail multi-let yields to 6.7% (from 8.7% average in 2015) coupled with an increase in the number of new buyers since our March auction. Many buyers were motivated by the more favourable SDLT rates when compared to the Buy-to-Let sector and the returns available to them. £118 million was raised with a success rate of 86%.
The July sale was smaller than normal with some vendors waiting to see the outcome of the referendum, which at the time looked a certain “No”, when we catalogued in early June. With the referendum delivering a result no one predicted, the industry was looking closely at the result of our sale as the first market indicator. The auction was well attended with many watching for any signs of market weakness. Despite the uncertainties, investor demand was strong and we raised £69 million with an 86% success rate. With low interest rates, a mainly domestic market and a general shortage of stock we always thought the auction would be a success notwithstanding the referendum result. So it proved, overall buyer sentiment remained positive with 78% of buyers also saying they would like to buy again in the next 12 months.
To date, in 2016, we have sold 577 lots and raised £365 million on behalf of our clients with an overall success rate of 89% with two auctions to go. Demand for the bigger lots has increased with 96 lots sold at or in excess of £1 million, an increase of 28% year on year. Further, of those lots, 29 were sold at or in excess of £2 million, an increase of 81%.