What Are Auction Buyers Looking For Right Now?

Auctions traditionally offer buyers a very diverse range of lots. But as ever in property demand is as if not more important than supply. So in early 2023 what are property auction buyers really looking for? Here we’ll look at some key considerations and talk to experts in the auction market.


Auctions are traditionally the home of good value property. But in a year when many forecasters predict residential property price falls of circa 10% value is likely to be a key factor in the market. Buyers will be looking to guard against the likelihood of a fall in prices by buying at an appropriate level now.


Investors are likely to be aware that capital appreciation is unlikely in the short or even medium term, and so more occupied with yields. While the future of residential buy to let is hanging in the balance to some extent, those investors who do buy are likely to look for the properties with the strongest yield potential.

Reduced risk

In the current market buyers are less likely to be tempted to take risks. This is likely to mean that buyers seek out quality, while the fundamental of location, location, location becomes ever more relevant. It could mean that properties at the lower end of the pricing scale (on the basis less money = less risk) may be favoured.

Project potential

 While the concept of adding value is generally a sound one in property, this is likely to be more relevant in the current market. Compared to recent times, in 2023 and 2024 it is unlikely it will be possible to make a capital gain purely as a result of organic growth in the market. So lots where there is scope to add value with refurbishment, renovation, conversion or development may be more attractive.

When considering a project buyers are likely to be aware of rising construction materials and labour costs, however.

Commercial property

Commercial property has traditionally been the preserve of institutional investors. However, there is some evidence to suggest that a decline in commercial values has put this type of property within the reach of more private and smaller investors. As well as good quality commercial property with positive letting potential, surplus commercial property with project potential could prove attractive – especially where value is to be had.

Now let us take in some thoughts from auction experts as to what buyers are looking for right now:

Gary Murphy, Auctioneer and Founder of Allsop Residential Auctions, confirms that buyers very much have an eye for value at the moment. He says: “Our first auction of the year is to be held on 16 February online. This sale will be a good indication of what buyers are looking for in the market this year.

“Clearly, given the challenges ahead (interest rate rises, cost of living increases, higher construction costs etc.), buyers will be looking for value. In these conditions, it’s more important than ever for sellers to ensure that reserve pricing and guides are realistic and attractive.”

He also suggests that buyers will be hunting down projects, while yields and quality are also paramount: “Early indicators show that there is likely to be a continuing appetite for unmodernised properties, particularly from owner-occupiers. Buy to let investment will be challenging, but nonetheless popular where yields are rewarding. However, the overriding factor will be location. In times of uncertainty, or difficulty, real estate in the best locations will always be seen as a safe purchase. That said, we expect confidence to improve throughout the year. Interest rates are likely to stabilise and hopefully fall slightly.”

He points out that, as ever, auctions are very much a barometer for the wider market and this will particularly be the case this year as Allsop’s auctions return to a physical auction room: “One exciting development for Allsop is our return to the auction room. Starting with our sale on 30 March, we shall be live from the rostrum at The Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge. Further live sales will be held at The Berkeley in May and June this year. The attendance and activity in our rooms will, as always, be a great barometer of market sentiment.”

Guy Charrison, Director and Auctioneer at Network Auctions, feels that auction buyers will certainly be more risk-sensitive this year, with cheaper lots proving popular: “Last week Network Auctions launched their catalogue for their 9th of February auction.

The catalogue has a great mix of property from vacant and let houses and flats, freehold ground rents, vacant property, a flat with a short lease and various land sites including a 60 acre agricultural land parcel in Devon.

“Whilst there is genuine interest across the catalogue, as often happens in times considered more difficult, buyers seems to revert to low value/low risk lots. The largest number of legal pack downloads are all under £300,000.”

On other lots that seem attractive to buyers he says: “There is also good demand for freehold ground rents, but pricing is very sensitive here. These investments are purchased on a calculator and not by the heart!

“Land with planning is more difficult to sell than it has been for a while, buyers are taking into account the increased material and building costs and how they anticipate the market conditions post develop.”

Lastly, to look specifically at the commercial property auctions market. At the latest Acuitus UK Commercial Property Auction Review held recently economist Malcolm White of BW Investor Services reported that £774.6m of investment-grade and development properties had been sold at auction during 2022 – 22% above the 10 year average. He confirmed that auctions now account for a growing proportion of all commercial property sales to private investors.

Reviewing recent auction activity, Acuitus Chairman, Richard Auterac, agreed that valuations at levels which will allow transactions to take place will be key this year. He noted that the quality of assets offered for sale will be critical. He also said that whilst the proportion of retail assets selling decreased last year there appears to be increased investor appetite to buy in ‘alternative sectors’ such as healthcare, leisure, motor trade and assisted living.

What Are Auction Buyers Looking For Right Now?