Lots of things are bought and sold at auctions – but what about houses?

Harcourts Canada, a New Zealand-based real estate company is hoping to start a new trend in Metro Vancouver house sales by introducing auction-style property bidding.

“We see auctions as a really strong thing going forward,” said Hayden Duncan, CEO of Harcourts Canada.

“The reason we're here is because we've heard from Vancouver people that they want more transparency, more clarity, and an easier way of doing real estate.”

Property auctions have failed before in B.C., both in Burnaby and on Vancouver Island, but it’s a common concept in Australia and New Zealand, where Harcourts is based. The company opened its North Vancouver branch in July 2016.

The process is similar to conventional home sales, except prospective buyers can see who they are bidding against – and for what amount - in real time.

The first public Canadian auction will be held in March, with a luxury condo in False Creek and an apartment in New Westminster with starting bids of $1.5 million and $400,000 up for grabs.

Prospective buyers need to register to be eligible to bid, and the seller of the home sets the terms of the sale.

With Canadian realtors unable to divulge details on competing bids, live auctions provide transparency in an industry that’s seeing home sales on the decline in Metro Vancouver.

“It could provide a bit more transparency on how multiple offers are handled, but I think it seems like a business model that might be more predicated on a hot marker,” said Steve Saretsky, a realtor with Sutton Group-West Coast Realty.

“There’s really nobody beating down the doors for detached homes anymore.”

Harcourts says it’s here for the long run, with the intention of making property auctions mainstream.

“I think Canadians are crying out for the transparency and fairness,” said Duncan. “It should catch on because people like it.”

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald