Reporter LAURA LEA met auctioneer Paul Fosh to find out the fastest and most exciting way to buy and sell property in Gwent.

Paul Fosh Auctions was founded in 2001 and is now considered as one of Wales’ largest property auction houses.

But before I was going to get near a gavel – the auctioneer’s hammer - I headed to where the whole process begins; at a house.

The large residential property in the centre of Newport had been empty for some time and after the owners failed to gain interest through estate agents, they went to Mr Fosh. It was one of the lots listed for the auction a few days later.

“We are not like estate agents - we go in and pick it apart,” Mr Fosh said. “We will be very straight with the owner. It takes skill to give someone bad news in a positive way.

“It’s about managing expectations.”

Unlike estate agents, viewings are done in blocks with usually three to four per property.

Mr Fosh said: “I just introduce the property and then let them go for a walk around.

“We are not surveyors but we do a maintenance survey of a house.”

I followed Mr Fosh around as he checked the gas meter, fuse board, floor boards and for damp in the walls.

At the auction itself, Mr Fosh doesn’t take questions on the floor so people must ring in advance with any queries.

There are some properties that are in such a state of disrepair – people are prohibited to enter them for viewings. On these occasions buyers just go to see the outside. But surprisingly this doesn’t make them less likely to sell. One such property was listed in the upcoming auction.

“That will definitely sell - it will fly out. People want a bargain,” said Mr Fosh.

There are also what’s known as “boomerang” properties – those that come back to auction three or four times. “Dreamers who give up on it,” said Mr Fosh.

Mr Fosh’s business is 13-years-old. Prior to this, he worked for estate agents and went on to set up an auctions department.

“I got into property in the late 80s, when estate agents was a big thing to get in to . But I’ve always liked auctions. I learnt my trade at Halifax starting up an auctions department.”

So, I asked - what are the key traits required for a budding auctioneer?

“Auctioneers need to have a big ego. I think I’ve got a big ego. I like performing.

“You also need to be confident in your ability to value property.

“We’ve got to be very adaptable - adapt to the market. If you want to see the state of the market- go to an auction,” said Mr Fosh.

This ability is vital to selling and with a 75 per cent sales rate I can surmise Mr Fosh is pretty good at it. But the lots aren’t always bricks and mortar – often the council passes on bits of land for them to sell off too.

“There are three parts to it,” Mr Fosh told me. “Valuing, viewing and auction. The auctions the fun part.”

Paul Fosh Auctions holds sales at the Park Inn Hotel in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, “every six weeks to the day”.

“My job as an auctioneer is to get you to move on price - because you go into the auction knowing how much you want to spend on it and doing it up,” said Mr Fosh.

“If I can sell it to a first time buyer I like it.”

According to Mr Fosh, about a quarter of those who attend are regulars – many of them local developers with numerous properties in a certain area.

On the night of the auction - I joined the team of runners. There were around six of us and our job was to stand alongside Mr Fosh watching the bidding and then to ‘run’ to whoever the property goes to with the contract – the authorisation of sale.

I then had to lead them out of the room which was easier said than done in that crowd, get a deposit off them in either cash or cheque and most importantly get them to sign the document which by this point, is legally binding.

Hundreds of people turned out for the auction – barely even standing room as potential buyers waited in the corridor – with even more bidding via telephone too. An Ebbw Vale property listed for £8,000 with no prior viewings allowed - sold on the night for £34,000.

The range of buyers is fascinating. I dealt with a woman who could barely write because her hand was shaking so much. It was her first time at an auction and the first property she had ever bought. Another young man from the valleys had the cheque all written out ready - he was from a small property development company and was heading back into the auction to bid on four more lots.

The whole process is incredibly efficient - with Mr Fosh racing through the lots and thousands of pounds being dealt with and processed in the back room every minute. It’s high energy and fast - there’s a real sense of anticipation and excitement in the room.

So, if you are in the market for a new house, I would say this is definitely the most fun way to do it.