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17 September 2014
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Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander

Beginner's guide to buying at auction

Auctions are a great way to buy property competitively. But be warned, there is more to buying than just turning up and landing yourself a bargain. The team from the BBC One show Homes Under The Hammer share their wisdom.

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Preparing for auction

The main attraction of buying at auction is that you avoid the conventional drawn out process of house buying. At auction it's condensed into a matter of minutes rather than months and when the hammer falls, you own the property.

Consult our handy guide before you attend your first auction:

Lucy's top tip

"If you're new to auctions, sit in on one first before you join in - bidding isn't for the fainthearted!"

  • Contact the relevant auction house and request their catalogue. Most auction houses hold regular auction sales with a catalogue printed some weeks in advance. You can also subscribe to catalogue mailing lists.
  • Go through the catalogue carefully, read the details thoroughly and identify the properties you are interested in.
  • Do arrange a viewing of the lot(s) - viewing arrangements will be listed in the catalogue.
  • View any properties you are interested in.
  • Research the property thoroughly and ask local estate agents and neighbours for their opinions.
  • Check the description of the lot in the catalogue is accurate.
  • Carry out the usual property/land searches.
  • Carefully read the conditions printed in the catalogue. Always get legal or professional advice from a solicitor and, in appropriate cases, a chartered surveyor.
  • Make financial arrangements to ensure you have a 10% deposit ready for payment on auction day, when the contracts are signed and access to the remaining 90% within 28 days.
  • Plan ahead if you need mortgage assistance. It's wise to arrange a mortgage in principal with a bank or building society before buying at auction. You could lose your 10% deposit if you fail to complete within the time given (normally within 20 working days).
  • Be aware that buying at auction is a binding commitment and carries the same legal implications as a signed contract by private treaty. In most cases, auction offices have copies of legal documentation provided by the seller's solicitors which can be sent to you.

Jargon buster

Confused by auction speak? Consult our A-Z auction glossary.

If you're considering purchasing a property at auction you should always consult with auction professionals and solicitors. This article is intended as a guide only.

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