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Shoreham offers top tips for local authorities selling used ex-utility vehicles

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The south coast auctioneers have recently seen a wave of ex-utility vehicles leave auctions for nearly three times their reserve price, regardless of age, generating huge interest from an ever-growing buyer base.

According to Shoreham, vehicles are being consistently undervalued and undersold by using the wrong sales channels, which results in a poor return on taxpayer’s funds. Therefore, the company has pulled together its top tips to help local authorities maximise the sale and prices of public assets.

Financial status

If a vendor is not financially sound, it leaves councils completely vulnerable if something goes wrong. Auctions have to demonstrate they are trustworthy, both in collecting and transferring money from the buyer and delivering it to its new owner.

Research their history and reviews

This should give a better idea of an auctioneer’s reputation. Their physical and technical infrastructure is important; you shouldn’t have to keep the vehicle on your premises during an auction, even if they have no space to store it themselves.

Are they NAMA registered?

Membership of the National Association of Motor Auctions reduces a vendors’ vulnerability against false auctioneers. They set the standard throughout the industry and it’s compulsory for all members to sign up to their Code of Practice. Auction houses that are not a NAMA member should be avoided.

Do they operate online and physical auctions?

Auctioneers should offer both options to open up stock to the widest possible audience.

Online pre-marketing is crucial

If a vehicle cannot be easily found online, it will affect buyer confidence; buyers should be able to make an informed decision solely through the internet.

Research reserve prices for similar vehicles

This helps to not only gauge what the vehicles will be worth when sold in the current market, but also whether the vehicle should also be marketed beyond the UK. Specialist utility vehicles can generate worldwide interest and therefore increase bids and prices.

Beware of the “no fees” trap

If they are willing to do “everything for nothing”, why is the supplier so cheap? Commission levels and inflated buyer fees can put off bidders and compromise the quick sale of a vehicle. 


Images of the vehicle should be taken from every angle, showing any cosmetic damage that is especially important for online-only buyers. A vehicle in pristine condition will help it to sell ahead of similar units, but as long as you report any damage on the vehicle and a rough estimated cost of repair, its likely your vehicles will still secure strong bids.

Full documentation is a must

This must be supplied in order to achieve any sale. A V5 document, MOT certificate, spare keys, name of the authority selling the vehicle and full service history adds massive value.

Disclose any known mechanical faults

The vendor must disclose any known mechanical faults prior to auction. The buyer would have grounds to reject the vehicle should the vendor not disclose a mechanical fault which is listed in the service history.

“The number of ex-utility units that have gone under the hammer for prices far surpassing their reserve, not only demonstrates that the lifespan of specialist vehicles can be prolonged after being de-fleeted, but that there are significant advantages of using reputable auction houses,” commented Alex Wright, managing director of Shoreham Vehicle Auctions.

“We have also seen vehicles being under-priced when put into the wrong hands, which compromises the sale price of a public asset. Local councils and authorities, to fully realise the potential of their vehicle, should use these steps to fully maximise residual values and return on investment for the taxpayer,” he added.

Katie Beck

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