Sales debate: How accurate are auction prices when judging market values?

Auction prices have long been used to help inform market trends. However, with recent results suggesting a slow down in the Porsche market, now seems like the perfect time to see just how accurate auction results are when judging 911 values across the board.

“The beauty of an auction is the car is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it on the day, at that particular moment,” explains Harry Whale, operations manager and classic car consignor at Silverstone Auctions.

Whale accepts that, because of this, using auction results as a be-all and end-all for judging market value may give a skewed perception.

“Auctions can give an overall perception of the market but it’s all down to the condition, provenance and what someone is willing to pay for the car. Just because a low-mileage 997 GT3 RS has sold for, say, £160,000, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any low-mileage 997 GT3 RS is worth the same price,” Whale continues.

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It is for this reason that Lee Maxted-Page, head of the eponymously named classic Porsche specialist, feels auction values “are the wrong thing to use as a guide.” In his opinion, the cars consigned through auction houses in recent years “just don’t bear close inspection.”

“Auctions have had it good for a while and they’ve been selling cars to retail buyers in the headiness, looking to buy and invest in classic cars,” Maxted-Page explains.

“But, now, things have slowed down a bit and people have become a bit more discerning again,” he continues, which could explain the recent downturn in headline-making results.

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Due to this, Maxted-Page feels there are “two market prices: the price for average and below-average cars (generally in auctions) or above-average and exceptional cars (which change hands privately or with dealers). It really is a two-tier system.”

Coupled with the commission charged to both the buyer and seller, the respected specialist feels that “the hammer price, rather than the fully paid price,” is likely to be more representative of each lots true value.

Whale counters this though, pointing out that, when consigning a car for sale: “We [Silverstone Auctions] will always agree a guide price with our vendors – it is a guide and not an indication of a true price. The current market value can only be decided on what any bidder is willing to pay when the hammer drops.”

With their openly publicised results, auction prices will, undoubtedly, continue to help inform market values. However, it seems sensible to go in with your eyes open when analysing their hammer values. As with any Porsche 911, condition and provenance are crucial, whether sold through auction or a dealer.

For market advice on any generation or style of Porsche 911, check out our full selection of sales debates, where we ask the 911 experts the pertinent market questions so you don’t have to.

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