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5 Golden Rules for Buying a House at Auction

The secrets to success in finding and buying a house at auction.

Faye deGavre


Jul 26, 2022


4 min read

5 Golden Rules for Buying a House at Auction

Anyone who’s been to an auction before knows the excitement that buzzes around the room, followed by a flood of panels that rise into the air before the gavel falls. When looking to buy a property at auction, whether it’s an online auction or held at a traditional auction house, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and overbid, overlook issues and experience common pitfalls. Now that you know the basics about buying a house at auction, here are some golden rules to follow.

Shop around first

There are thousands of properties going to auction in the UK every month, from small terraces to family homes. Even if you think you found the one in the first search, shop around to compare property types, their condition and prices. Check out the auctioneer’s guide prices. These typically won’t be the ultimate sale figure, which will be a lot higher, but they can give you a good indication of the reserve price.

Check out the property

You can never prepare enough before bidding at an auction. If you like a few houses that are coming up for auction, take some time to view them in person. A lot of property that goes under the hammer needs work, and that isn’t always conveyed through images online. 

While many professionals buy without viewing first, it’s a good practice to get into. To avoid any nasty surprises, we advise viewing each potential property you’ll bid on.

Instruct a solicitor to make legal enquiries

Always download the legal documents from the auctioneer’s website. Read through the legal pack and then send it to your solicitor and ask for advice.

Arrange your finance (before bidding)

Never bid at an auction unless you have the money to pay the deposit and fees on the day. If you buy a house at a traditional auction house, you will need to pay a 10% deposit fee and have 28 days to complete the sale. If you buy online, you will be required to pay a reservation fee and then have 56 days to exchange and complete the purchase. If you fail to complete your purchase, you could lose your deposit.

For many people, you’ll need to secure a mortgage in principle before bidding. Contact a mortgage adviser to get started with this.

Stick to your budget

Set yourself a price limit and stick to it. Remember to allow cash for fees, additional costs of buying a house and renovations. If you’re concerned about getting caught up in the moment and overpaying, you could always ask a friend to bid for you. You could also make a written maximum bid for the auctioneer to take by proxy, and they will bid for you up to the figure and not beyond it.

If you’re bidding yourself, don’t delay. Things can happen very quickly once the auction begins, so stay alert. Bid clearly so that the auctioneer doesn’t miss you.

Find your next auction home for sale

Are you ready to find a suitable house for sale? Our nifty tools help to refine your search so you can find suitable properties for sale that tick all your boxes.

See something you like? Book viewings 24/7 and receive instant confirmation. Start your search today.

Faye deGavre

Content Writer