How to Approach Your First Property Auction

Attending your first property auction might seem daunting and slightly anxiety-inducing, but it’s easy to learn how the process works…

There are many differences between buying properties at auction compared to purchasing through an estate agent or private vendor. The auction process is built around the rapid turnover of properties and live public / online bidding, far removed from the relatively discreet conveyancing process most people are familiar with.

Yet property auctions are a fabulous resource. They’re packed with affordably priced homes, the bidding process is entirely transparent, and everything happens in front of you. Costs are low, while the streamlined conveyancing process means you can take ownership of a property within a few weeks.

Here are the key things to consider when planning your first property auction visit…

Auction Myth Busters

Before attending your first property auction, set aside any preconceptions. These are some of the common myths surrounding property auctions:

  • They’re exclusively populated with cheap homes. We regularly market properties with guide prices of over £500,000, even in relatively affordable regions of the UK
  • Auction properties are ‘problem’ homes. Many vendors simply want a quick sale. Our sister site Property Solvers offers cash bids for homes that will subsequently be resold at auction
  • Guide prices are the same as valuations. Guide prices are usually based on the reserve – the minimum value a property will be sold for on the day – so selling prices tend to be higher
  • Properties will be old and tired. It’s not uncommon to see new-build homes being listed if a developer needs to release equity, has a change of circumstances or runs out of money
  • You need large cash reserves. Auction bidders typically use a combination of cash, bridging finance and mortgages. Some attendees will be cash bidders, but not all of them
  • Auction listings are only affordable ‘up north’. We recently showcased a collection of auction properties costing less than £50,000 across the country, including Lincolnshire to North Wales
  • You could bid by mistake. Auctioneers are adept at identifying bids. Scratching your ear or yawning won’tbe interpreted as a bid on a property you’re not interested in!
  • Everyone else knows what they’re doing. You’re unlikely to be the only person in the room attending your first property auction. Even veteran bidders need to start somewhere…

This final point is especially pertinent for anyone planning to attend their first property auction. There will be seasoned investors present, but there will be amateurs and spectators as well.

When attending your first property auction, we recommend leaving without bidding.

Treat it as a research trip – take a few notes, watch the process unfold and study the incremental nature of bids.

One mistake commonly made by inexperienced auction-goers is getting carried away. The competitive urge to ‘win’ a bidding war may result in an inflated selling price that’ll blow your budget or ultimately prove unaffordable, so always set a ceiling price for bids – and stick to it.

How to Approach Your First Property Auction

How Do I Choose the Right Auction Property to Bid on?

If the vendors or owners have followed our advice on how to sell a property at auction, any homes you’re interested in at your first property auction should be well-presented and tidy.

You might be able to attend an open viewing day, and there’ll be property particulars and a legal pack for each plot.

If it isn’t local, tools like Google Street View and 3D satellite mapping services can provide valuable insights into its surroundings.

However, nothing beats pounding the pavements, assessing a property’s curb appeal, overall condition and local environment firsthand.