Buying a house Property auctions


Buying at auction brings risk and excitement

Buying a house or flat at a property auction is a much more transparent way to buy a home. You’ll see other bids as they’re made, rather than having to take an estate agent’s word for it.

Be warned though, as it does have its pitfalls, such as disappointment if you’re outbid or having to hand over your 10% deposit to the auctioneer straight away if you lodge a winning bid, as contracts are signed on the day of the auction. 

You will also need to be able to access the remaining 90% of the purchase price within 28 days. If you can't complete within this time you will lose your 10% deposit so, if you need a mortgage, make sure you get one agreed in principal with your mortgage lender before the auction.

Go to property auctions for a quick completion or a possible bargain but don’t bid until you’ve had the property surveyed and the legal pack checked by an independent solicitor.

  • With such tight timescales we recommend you speak to a mortgage adviser as early as you can to ensure you have the funds available to you. Which? Mortgage Advisers are experts and can look at thousands of mortgages. To speak to one of their mortgage experts call 0808 252 7987.

Before you buy at a property auction

Do your research

Use websites such as to gather details of forthcoming auctions in your area. Our guide on how to find a property could also help you locate properties worth bidding on.

Make legal checks

Request a brochure and study the particulars carefully, reading all the small print. Then send it to your solicitor or conveyancer and arrange for them to carry out the usual searches, enquiries and title checks.

Sometimes the seller’s solicitor will carry out the searches and send a copy to your solicitor.

Arrange a property survey

Arrange to have a house survey and a valuation done and to get the results before the auction. There are different types of house surveys, so take a look at our guide to learn which type is most appropriate for you.

View the property 

View the home in the normal way, preferably more than once, and be sure it is what you want. We've got 10 top tips on viewing a property, where you can also downloadable our free checklist to take with you.

Set a price limit before you bid 

Fix your price limit and complete arrangements for finance before the day of the property auction. A mortgage lender will have to inspect and value the property in the usual way before they make you a mortgage offer.

Don’t get carried away during the bidding. Don’t exceed your price limit. You could appoint someone else to bid for you to ensure this doesn’t happen. Remember, if you’re outbid, you lose not only the house but the expenses of a survey and solicitor. Find out more on how to value a property to ensure you make the right bid at a property auction.

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