Auction Report : Southern Independent Auctions

Fancy a bit of seaside air and bargain hunting?

Well, you could do worse than nip down to Brighton on the second Tuesday of the month and pop into Southern Independent Auctions (SIA) for the morning. Bag a bargain or ten and then stroll along the prom and take in a bit of ozone.

SIA is part of a company called Southern Insolvency Agents Limited who work on behalf of liquidators and receivers, which is basically a kind way of saying that they are professional bailiffs who have many years’ experience in insolvency. The auction part of the company makes sense as the company can then dispose of goods that have been seized by the main company.

They work for a large number of insolvency practitioners in the area, as well as the local council; so, if you don’t pay your rates, this is where those distrained goods will end up for sale. Over the years, they have sold a wide range of goods, including the entire contents of retail outlets, jewellers, motor accessories, children’s wear, bicycles, equestrian tack and mountain-climbing bits as well as computers and all sorts of office equipment.

Ex-showroom furniture is another of the interesting ranges that appears at most of the sales. This is furniture that has been specifically purchased to furnish show homes and the ‘used’ furniture (presumably when all the houses are sold) turns up at SIA. This presents a real opportunity should you like contemporary furniture or want to purchase furniture for a buy-to-let or guest house. However, remember that show-home furniture is often significantly smaller than ‘standard’ furniture because it makes the rooms look bigger .

Most auction days the range of available items includes office equipment, tools, furniture and wine as well as ‘seized’ cars. The cars are always offered first, and there are usually half a dozen or so on offer. They can range from top-of-the-range motors to old bangers, also sometimes due to liquidation, LDV LWB vans for sale.

In an insolvency auction  VAT can raise its ugly percentage, as a lot of the items sold will have not only the commission added but also VAT, as they are or were trade items from VAT-registered individuals and companies. About 80% of the items can have VAT added and if you are not VAT-registered this can be a bit of a downer on the final price.

Note that with Vans there would be VAT, not necessarily on cars. While the hammer price on these vans was £2,200, the price paid by the buyer would be a thumping £2,888 – virtually a quarter more. Research tells me that they would sell on for around £4,000, but they would need servicing and an MOT (these are usually out of date by the time motors get to auction). Add the cost of removing logos and artwork from the side of the van and the potential profit begins to fall away a bit.

First up for sale was a Volvo Estate (1996) sold without keys or documents. This is not uncommon as cars (or other vehicles) are often taken by the bailiffs without help from the owner. Keys are (in theory) not a problem as contacting the manufacturer with the chassis and VIN number will usually mean they will be able to supply replacements. Documents can easily be replaced by contacting the DVLA.

This Volvo sold for £240 and had a re-sale value of around £1,000; so it might be worth a little bit of legwork for a workhorse car – no jokes about Volvo drivers, please.

Other cars sold included:

  • Honda Accord VTEC SE (2003), you would have had to dig a bit deeper to buy this for £6,800 but plenty of profit here with a retail value of around £11,000
  • Nissan Primera GX 5-door hatch (1997)  300 (retail approx  £1,200- £1,500)
  • Ssangyong Rexton RX 290SE7 (2003) £7,600 (retail £12,000 plus)
  • Ford Escort (1993) £150 – (retail £600)

Do remember that with insolvency auctions these are generally (and genuinely) ‘no reserve’ auctions. Cars can sell for a few pounds, quite literally. The advantage of buying cars from this type of auction (as opposed to a car auction) is that there is only the commission to worry about and not the ‘fixed’ fee charged at car auctions, which can bump up the price of a cheaper car.

Leading on from the cars was a variety of items ‘by Order of: followed by the name of the insolvency agent ordering the sale. There were a variety of items available here with an Iwata Power Jet Compressor selling for a mere £20 and three Ethernet Hubs (all 8 port), brand new and boxed selling for a mere £1 each.

Strangely, there was also a till drawer (just the drawer, not the till) and this also sold (surprisingly) for £1.

The auctioneer, gallops at a pace of around 150 lots an hour and on offer next were a few brand-new tools, the only items in the sale that had reserves. These reserves were (helpfully) stated in the catalogue.

Finally, rather strangely, we were offered A Cockerel which sold for the reserve of  £34. From the comments made it appeared that this had been hanging around for several auctions and the auctioneer appeared to be sorry to see him go! A few office/computer items followed and included a Hewlett Packard 7140 Office Jet printer for £14, as well as an Epson Colour 880 Stylus printer and a white floor fan for a very cheap £2.

Computers were also up for sale but be cautious unless you really are an expert in this area. Computers that are seized have to be stripped of data so you end up with a shell covering microchips, keyboard and screen and no software etc. However, an AppleMac G4 with keyboard, 19″ monitor, mouse and zip drive sold for £90. A Dell Inspiration 2500 Pentium III laptop with case and charger made £170.

For those who love their technology and are desperate for a plasma screen on their living-room wall, there was an opportunity to purchase a Plavo Plasma 42″ screen for £320; even with the addition of VAT and commission, this was still good value.

Moving on to the ex-showroom furniture, it was possible to pick up brand-new high-quality sofas for anything between £20 and £50.

It would have been possible to buy enough furniture to furnish a house, right from the duvet, duvet cover and sheets up to the dining table and accessories, and, with the prices that some of the items were selling for, this exercise would not have cost a great deal.

  • 12 bottles of Vin D’Alsace £14
  • 6 bottles of Medoc and 6 bottles of Pinot Noir £36
  • 9 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and 3 bottles of Riesling £36
  • 7 bottles of Shiraz and 2 bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne £42

An Argent Phone System with CTT 100 Caller Display Betacom phones and manual £10 ended the sale at the very civilised time of 12.30 p.m. giving plenty of time to either nip down the road to the seafront or take a quick constitutional on the South Downs.

If you want to visit a ‘real’ bankruptcy/insolvency auction SIA is one of the better ones, and half the fun of these sales is that you never know what is going to turn up. There is no feeling of ‘more of the same’ and there are some real bargains to be found – it’s just a matter of seeing what is there on the day.

The sale usually lasts no more that three hours and there are rarely more than 300-400 lots. You can pay and clear half an hour after the end of the sale. Remember that they are keen to clear quickly and you do have to clear within 24 hours: there is no leeway.

About Southern Independent Auctions

Easy to find?

No! It’s dreadful to find and even worse if you are not a local. It is off the main A23 coming into Brighton in an area called ‘Lower Bevendean’ and you have to wind yourself through a huge housing estate to finally find it. In fairness, SIA do recognise this and offer a map of their location on their website ( One good thing is, though, that once you have found it you can feel superior in the knowledge that at least you know where it is.


Yep! Easy, on the road, but be careful not to block anyone in anywhere. There was a constant stream of people during the sale who were asking for cars to be moved.


Nothing there and nothing on the way – nearest ‘caff’ is about half a mile up the A23 in the ‘Wild Park’ – otherwise it’s into Brighton and the expensive parking.


£1 or just register on and ask to be updated when the auction catalogue goes online.

Speed of sale

Quick at 150 or so lots per hour.

It can be a bit hit and miss but you will never be bored and you will certainly pick up a bargain, whether you meant to or not!

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