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Luke Banitsiotis crowned top auctioneer at the AUSTROS

Woodards Blackburn’s Luke Banitsiotis, has been crowned the nation’s top auctioneer for 2024, after taking out The Australasian Auctioneering Championships (AUSTROS) in Hobart.

The Victorian beat out some of the best auctioneers in the country, securing the title against Alec Brown (Ray White Canberra, ACT), Bronte Manuel (TOOP + TOOP, SA), Clarence White (Menck White Auctioneers, NSW) and Paul Hancock (McGrath, NSW) in the final.

An experienced senior auctioneer and partner of Woodards Blackburn in Melbourne’s East, Mr Banitsiotis is a three-time Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) Senior Auctioneer of the Year. 

He was the runner-up at the REIV’s 2024 Senior Auctioneering Competition leading to his successful campaign for the Australasian prize.

Mr Banitsiotis said he was really proud to take out the title, however, the win was still surreal.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in to be honest,” Mr Banitsiotis said.

“This is my fifth AUSTROS and my fourth final after getting into the seniors in Victoria for the first time in 2016, which is your entry ticket of sorts.

“So it’s been eight years of effort and I’m really proud that I stuck with it.”

He said that he was really happy with how he performed and felt that he was very much in control during the final.

“I was surprisingly calm,” he said.

“You get 15-20 minutes in the holding room on your own and I sat there and made a plan of attack and then I really just stuck to that plan and it all came together.

“It’s nice when that happens and the script works in your favour and you’re able to treat it like a normal Saturday auction and you’re not stressed.”

Paul Hancock (NSW), Clarence White (NSW), Alec Brown (ACT), Bronte Manuel (SA) and Luke Banitsiotis (VIC) – Photo: REIV

Mr Banitsiotis said competing in the AUSTROS was a lot like preparing for a sports event, with all the practice that goes into it.

“You’re obviously competing against the best of the best and it’s all the training and all the effort that goes into it for 12 months of the year,” he said.

“It’s kind of like an Olympic event, you do all this training for 100m and it’s over in 10 seconds.

“For us, we do all this training and we either make the final or we don’t.”

He said that while he doesn’t expect to see business pick up because of his win, he hopes the title will give vendors comfort when he’s sitting in his next listing presentation.

Mr Banitsiotis said the best way to run an auction was to prepare well and practice.

“I still practice every week,” he said.

“Practice scenarios, even though they might not happen on a Saturday, challenge yourself and be strong with your numbers.

“It’s great that you have a pencil there, but if you can really be on top of the arithmetic and be in control it puts you well ahead of the pack.”

He also suggests that auctioneers need to bring energy and make the process engaging for those that are involved.

“Whether it’s your first auction of the day or your last, everyone deserves the same level of energy,” he said.

REIV President, Jacob Caine, said Mr Banitsiotis’ skills and style were unmatched and represented the best Victoria has to offer.

“The REIV is delighted to see one of our own recognised as Australia and New Zealand’s best auctioneer,” Mr Caine said.

“It’s reflective of the professionalism, skills and talent of those operating in our state’s $2.5 trillion real estate market.

“Luke’s flawless performance at the competition and his tireless preparation work in the weeks prior set him apart from competitors and made him very deserving of this win.”

Real Estate Institute of Australia President (REIA), Leanne Pilkington, said Mr Banitsiotis performed exceptionally well.

“I would like to congratulate Luke Banitsiotis for taking out the 2024 AUSTROS,” Ms Pilkington said.

“It was a hotly contested and an incredible few days of auctioneering.

“The event attracted Australia and New Zealand’s top auctioneers and brought together high-profile names to compete for one of the industry’s most coveted awards.”

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) Chief Executive Officer, Jen Baird, said the past few days in Hobart had been remarkable.

“The AUSTROS showcased the world-class talent of the auctioneers that support the real estate profession in New Zealand and Australia,” Ms Baird said.

“The competition was fierce and Luke thoroughly deserved this win.”

Real Estate Institute of Tasmania CEO, Michelle Tynan, said it was an outstanding set of auctions called over these past two days in Hobart.

The auctioneers had called around 32,000 auctions between them to a total sales value of $21 billion and the standards of client service were evident in every call.

“Thank you to the AUSTROS 2024 judges panel, the Chief Judge, bidders, competitors, finalists and congratulations to Luke,” Ms Tynan said.

This year, the AUSTROS took place as part of the ANZ REIA 100 Gala that also included the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s (REIA) National Awards for Excellence (NAFE) for 2024.

Former REIA President, Adrian Kelly, won the prestigious REIA Presidents Award.

“Adrian’s exceptional leadership and contributions to the real estate industry were deservedly honoured at the ceremony, highlighting his enduring impact and influence on the sector in leading the industry over the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Pilkington said.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia’s (REIA) National Awards for Excellence (NAFE) for 2024 winners:

Achievement AwardSarah SmythColliers CanberraACT
Agency Sustainability Leadership Award (inaugural)TAARNBY™SA
Business Broker of the YearNikki KatzThe Business Sales AgencySA
Business Development Manager of the YearJarryd KirchnerThe Property CollectiveACT
Buyers’ Agent of the YearSamantha SpilsburyBuyers Agents TasmaniaTAS
Commercial Agency of the YearColliers CanberraACT
Commercial Property Manager of the YearDebbie DalyColliers CanberraACT
Commercial Salesperson of the YearMichael CeacisCanberra CommercialACT
Community Service AwardLouella JuryHomelands PropertyTAS
Individual Sustainability Leadership Award (inaugural)Renee MaynardPeter Lees Real EstateTAS
Innovation AwardHarcourts Huon ValleyTAS
Large Residential Agency of the YearHarris Real EstateSA
Marketer of the Year AwardMechlenne DouaihyMerc Real EstateNSW
Marketing and Communications AwardTAARNBY™SA
Medium Residential Agency of the YearHarcourts Huon ValleyTAS
Operational Leadership AwardGeoff CraneCity RealtySA
Operational Support AwardTaneale Di CostaXceed Real EstateWA
Residential Property Management Team of the YearThe Property CollectiveACT
Residential Property Manager of the YearSimone FogartyOne Agency OrangeNSW
Residential Sales Team of the YearWarburton Estate AgentsNSW
Residential Sales Team of the YearElders Top End GroupNT
Residential Salesperson of the YearJane MackenLJ Hooker Woden/WestonACT
Small Residential Agency of the YearTAARNBY™SA
Australasian Auctioneering ChampionLuke BanitsiotisWoodardsVIC
REIA Presidents AwardAdrian KellyView HobartTAS

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.