Auctioneering is a career traditionally dominated by men – but there’s one Warwickshire woman who is looking to break the mould.
Sally Smith is Coventry and Warwickshire’s only female auctioneer and one of only a handful across the country.
Sally has headed the auctions department at local property experts Loveitts for the past seven years and having only recently taken her place on the rostrum, she has already been recognised by the industry after being named a finalist in the Novice Auctioneer of the Year Awards.
So what is it that attracts this Nuneaton businesswoman to what has historically been a patriarchal profession?
“I love the energy and passion of an auction,” said Sally. “The first time I picked up the hammer and took part in my first auction I felt totally exhilarated. It was so exciting and I got the bug. I knew it was something I wanted to do again.”
Sally’s passion for property started in her teenage years and after leaving school she entered the commercial property sector at a business in Bedworth before moving into new homes where she remained for the next 17 years.
The former Bablake School pupil was then recruited by Loveitts, which is the only local auction firm in Coventry and Warwickshire, where she worked in new homes before Loveitts directors invited her to take over the auction department.
“It was a massively different culture from what I had been used to, but I embraced it immediately. The challenge is that no two auctions are the same and every property sold is different. I think there is huge excitement in the unknown, variety and speed of turnaround.
“Also the image of auctions is changing too. Previously there was a perception of only being distressed sales and repossessions going under the hammer but now we are dealing with a much wider range of properties and the man on the street.”
Last month, Loveitts held its biggest auction in Coventry which raised a record-breaking £4.2million with 83% success on the night.
Sally was an auctioneer for part of the night and helped to sell many of the 27 lots across the region – which included commercial property, terraced homes, parcels of land and a farm.
But for Sally the highlight of her career so far was the Novice Auctioneer of the Year Awards in September – which was held at the Oxford Belfry and featured only four women out of the 12 contestants.
“It was an incredibly challenging event because the lots we had to contend with were very complex in the sense that they were so random,” added Sally. “We had a motorbike, painting and even a skeleton to sell, with the final lots being genuine and auctioned for charity. Although it was nerve-racking, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“For me, auctioneering is more than just selling a property, it’s the buzz in the room and the emotion of it all. I love to see the sellers and buyers enjoying themselves and getting something out of it.
“It is a tremendously rewarding career and I would love to see more women coming into the field. Hopefully one day in the near future, women auctioneers will be commonplace and even recognised for bringing a feminine approach to the business.