Selling Houses in New Zealand and a New Phrasal Verb by Angela Caldin

Selling by Auction the NZ Way

I wanted to find out how property changes hands here in Auckland and decided to begin by attending an auction.  It seems that about a quarter of house sales in NZ take place by auction and that it’s an increasingly popular selling method, particularly for family homes. Sometimes the auction takes place actually at the house to be sold, but more often it takes place at the offices of an estate agent or realtor. At the offices I went to there were various properties listed in two separate auction rooms with printed lists available at reception. You could wander from room to room checking on places you were interested in, or you could watch the bidding on a double screen in the lobby where people milled about chattering, comparing notes and taking notes of prices.

There I learnt that each property has a reserve price, but the assembled throng of possible bidders don’t know what it is. If the bidding achieves the level of the reserve the auctioneer will excitedly announce that the property is ‘now selling’ and he or she will coax the bidding up, allowing time for those involved to consider whether they can afford to go up another thousand dollars or two. Finally, somebody outbids any others, the auctioneer announces with glee that the property is sold and everybody claps.

Some properties are much more sought after than others and various homes, which looked perfectly presentable to me, received no bids at all. But I understood from a friendly realtor who was happy to chat that there might easily be other interested parties who would come into play once the auction was out of the way. Then there were the places which received bids, but those bids did not reach the level of the mysterious reserve price. When this happened, the auctioneer would announce with some sadness that the lot would be passed in. I was interested to find out what this term meant and discovered that if this happens, the bidder who is nearest the reserve price has the opportunity to negotiate with the vendor to see if they can agree on a price.

A Semantic Discovery

I was intrigued – I had stumbled across a new phrasal verb: that is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or adverb and that then functions as a verb whose meaning is different from the meaning of its separate parts. Examples are: to put off (postpone), to work out (take exercise), to break up (end a relationship), to give in (surrender) and to hang on (wait a while).

Phrasal Verbs with To Pass

There are several phrasal verbs formed with the verb ‘to pass’ and some are listed below, with the Kiwi speciality at the end:

To pass out: to lose consciousness or to faint

  • The paint fumes were so strong that Kate passed out.

To pass up: to fail to take advantage of

  • Incredibly, he passed up the chance of a job in London because he preferred to stay in Manchester.

To pass off: to try to convince someone that something is real

  • The faker succeeded in passing off his forgeries as originals for several years.

To pass away: to die

  • He had a long and full life and didn’t pass away until he was 99 years old.

To pass on: can also mean to die, as well as to transmit and to refuse an invitation

  • I’m sorry to let you know that Mrs Roberts has passed on.
  • If your child has chickenpox, you should keep them at home so they don’t pass on the infection.
  • Lucy passed on Mark’s invitation to dinner as she was so tired.

To pass for: to be accepted as something different from the reality

  • She was only twelve, but with make-up and the right clothing, she could pass for sixteen.

To pass in: to fail to reach the reserve price at a property auction

  • Although the apartment was passed in, his bid was near the reserve and the vendor was willing to negotiate.



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