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Property auctions, whether you approach them from the perspective of a buyer or a seller, are designed to be fast and hassle-free. At SDL Property Auctions, we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that this is always the case by providing parties on both sides of every sale with transparent information and honest guidance. 

If you’re new to the auction process, find answers to your questions in the sections below. These have been split up into questions for buyers and questions for sellers, so skip ahead to the section that suits your position to find the most relevant information for you. If you can’t find your question, reach out to our friendly team by emailing us at enquiries@sdlauctions.co.uk, or calling 0800 046 5454.

Buying property by auction FAQs

Can I view the property before the auction?

Yes, potential buyers are able to organise a physical viewing of the property they’re interested in. These viewings can be arranged by clicking the ‘Request Viewing’ or ‘Book Viewing’ buttons on the listing itself, at which point interested parties can select a date and time that suits them, and visit the property as scheduled. In some cases, such as where a property is tenanted or unstable, physical viewings will not be available. In place of this, we always endeavour to carry out a virtual tour of the property to be included in the online listing. This is to allow potential buyers to gauge their interest in the property in the absence of an in-person viewing.

How can I view the legal pack and contract before the auction? 

The legal pack and contract associated with any property can be downloaded from the relevant property listing on our website. These documents are uploaded as soon as we receive them from the seller’s solicitor but, if they’re not available for the property you are considering, you can register your interest to receive an alert for when they are uploaded.

Can I have the property surveyed before the auction? 

Yes, you can conduct a survey on a property you’re interested in purchasing prior to the auction. This is often something which is advised, and access to the property can be arranged between your surveyor and our team. In order to do this, instruct your surveyor to contact us on 0800 046 5454.

Can first-time buyers buy by auction?

Yes, first-time buyers are welcome to purchase a property by auction, and this is becoming a more popular way to get onto the property ladder. If you are in this position, however, we recommend familiarising yourself with the processes involved by reading through our handy Guide to Buying a Property at Auction

Will I be able to get a mortgage on the property? 

Yes, most auction properties can be financed through the same means as a property listed on the open market, making it an accessible method of purchase for buyers of all backgrounds. Learn more about this financing option in our ‘Can you mortgage an auction property?’ blog.

Do I need to pre-register to bid?

If you’re interested in bidding for a property being offered at an Auction Event, you will need to register ahead of the auction date. If you’re looking to bid on a Timed Auction lot, you can register to bid at any time before the end date of the property’s auction. We’ve detailed how to register for both of these methods in the following question.

How do I register to bid before the auction?

To register to bid in an Auction Event, you need to complete our simple bid registration form online. The form will ask you to detail your personal information, as well as the details of your method of bidding (telephone, proxy or internet), and the lot number(s) of the properties you are interested in bidding on. This form must be completed in advance of the auction date as we will then need to verify your ID and receive your method of payment to complete your registration.

To register to bid in a Timed Auction, start the process by clicking on the ‘Log in / Register to bid’ button on the property details page. You will then be asked to register for an Auction Passport with Essential Information Group (who operate our online bidding platform) and to confirm your ID and method of payment. You will then be able to click and bid at any time 24/7 up to the end date of the auction.

What ID do I need?

When registering to bid, either for an Auction Event or for a Timed Auction, you will be asked to provide an accepted form of photographic ID as proof of your identity. The most commonly-accepted forms of ID include a current signed passport, an EU member state identity card or your current photo card driving licence. 

I can’t make it to the auction. Can I still bid?

Yes, you don’t need to be available during an Auction Event to bid – provided you’ve arranged this prior to the auction. This can be done while registering to bid, as the online form allows you to specify your method bid (telephone, proxy or internet), with proxy bidding being the best option for those who can’t bid themselves. If you choose this option, you’ll be asked to name your max bid price to ensure your proxy bidder knows where to cut off bids.

Can I make an offer prior to the auction? 

Yes, it is possible to make an offer prior to the auction event, as some sellers will consider accepting an offer that meets their expectations for the sale. However, these pre-auction offers can only be accepted where an unconditional contract is exchanged or a reservation fee is paid before the auction.

How can I make this offer?

You can make an offer prior to an auction by sending it to our dedicated team, who will share it with the seller and provide acknowledgement of it. Offers must be made in writing to offers@sdlauctions.co.uk. Verbal offers will not be accepted. Please keep in mind that, if you’re making an offer prior to the auction date, then any offer must be above the guide price in order to be considered. 

How will I know if the details given in the catalogue change or a property is withdrawn or sold prior?

For our Auction Events, we keep an up-to-date addendum available on our website at all times. In this, you can view the lots available at the event, as well as relevant information relating to them. You should check this regularly in the run up to an auction, as any changes to a property’s status will be reflected there. Alternatively, you can make use of our email alerts system to subscribe to property news in your preferred location.

How long does it take to offer each lot in an Auction Event? 

Every lot in an Auction Event varies in the time it takes to bid as it depends on the level of interest and number of bidders, however, you can generally expect bidding to last between 5 to 7 minutes for each lot.

If I am a successful bidder how much deposit do I have to pay? 

The amount of deposit due for a successful bid is dependent on the method of sale on the lot you’re purchasing. If it’s an unconditional with fixed fee sale, then this will be 10%, while for unconditional variable fee lots this will be 5%, subject to a minimum of £5,000. 

How is the deposit payable? 

When you register to bid, you will be asked to share your payment details (which will be confirmed by our team ahead of the auction). In the event that your bid is successful in securing the property, your deposit will be taken from the debit method provided. No money will be taken when you register to bid or if you are unsuccessful with your bidding.

If I am a successful purchaser when do I have to complete the purchase and pay the balance monies? 

The normal completion period for an unconditional sale is 30 days after the sale and 60 days for a conditional sale. There can be exceptions to these rules, however, so you should always inspect the legal pack to confirm this as the Special Conditions of Sale may state otherwise.

Are there any further costs to pay in addition to the sale price? 

Yes, and these vary depending on the method of sale associated with the property and the country in which you are purchasing. These differences are listed below. Please also note that the reservation fee does not contribute towards the purchase price, and that any further additional costs, which are payable in addition to the purchase price, will be included within the Special Conditions that are attached to the Contract. 

To make sure you are fully aware of all associated costs, we strongly advise that all prospective purchasers inspect the legal pack thoroughly themselves and request a legal representative review it too. 

  • Unconditional with Fixed Fee: On the fall of the hammer, the successful bidder will be legally bound to purchase the property. The successful bidder must immediately exchange contracts and pay a 10% deposit (subject to a minimum of £5,000), along with a non-refundable Buyer’s Fee. The Buyer’s Fee is £1,500 inc VAT, and completion must take place within 30 days, unless the Special Conditions of Sale state otherwise.  
  • Unconditional with Variable Fee: On the fall of the hammer, the successful bidder will be legally bound to purchase the property. The successful bidder must immediately exchange contracts, pay a 5% deposit (subject to a minimum of £5,000) along with a non-refundable Buyer’s Fee of either 4.8% of the final sale price of the property up to and including £250,000, or 3.6% if the final sale price is over £250,000. The Buyer’s Fee is subject to a minimum of £6,000. Completion usually must take place within 30 days unless the Special Conditions of Sale state otherwise.  
  • Conditional with Reservation Fee: On the fall of the hammer, the successful bidder will enter into a Reservation Agreement with the seller and be granted an exclusivity period of 60 days to purchase the property (unless the Special Conditions of Sale specify a different timescale). The successful bidder must use the exclusivity period to proceed to exchange of contracts and complete the purchase. On the fall of the hammer, the successful bidder must immediately pay a non-refundable Reservation Fee of 4.8% of the final sale price of the property up to and including £250,000, or 3.6% if the final sale price is over £250,000. The Reservation Fee is subject to a minimum of £6,000. 

If I do not complete the sale are there any penalties? 

Yes, should you not be able to complete the sale after making the successful bid, you will lose your deposit and buyers or reservation fee (whichever is applicable to the lot in question). In addition to this, the seller may sue you for the balance owed and any further losses caused.

Selling property by auction FAQs

What is a reserve price? 

A reserve price is agreed between the person selling the property and the auctioneer prior to the auction and remains confidential to these two parties, with bidders unaware of the reserve price. If a lot fails to meet this reserve, the auctioneer is not permitted to sell it to the highest bidder and the lot will be withdrawn from the auction.

Is the guide price the same as the reserve price? 

No, a guide price is not the same as a reserve price. A guide price is a reflection of the property value and is given by the auctioneer, this price generally acts as the starting bid for the property. This is not a fixed price and it may be changed at any time by the seller or by the auctioneer depending on the level of interest in the property. However, it is important to note that a reserve price on a property will always be within either + or – 10% of the guide price. You can read more about the differences between these two prices and how they’re set on our ‘how accurate are guide prices?’ blog.

Do some lots fail to sell? 

Yes, if the reserve price is not met during the bidding process, then the lot will not sell. Unsold properties remain on our website and are open to offers by the general public with a set sale price. These post-auction sales typically perform well as potential buyers have more time to conduct their research before making an offer. You can learn more about unsold auction lots on our blog.

How much will it cost to sell my property by auction?

Seller fees will change depending on the auction method selected, with different options available for conditional and unconditional sales. At SDL Property Auctions, our auctioneers provide tailored advice to help ensure sellers are happy both with the method of sale, and the fees included, before adding their property to our catalogues. 

Regardless of which route you’d like to take in regard to fees, however, sellers will still need to pay solicitor fees to prepare the legal pack for their property, which typically can cost up to £500. After the sale of your lot you will also need to instruct a solicitor for the conveyancing of the property, which can cost anywhere from £450 to £750. It is important to bear this in mind and set aside a budget for these costs.

I’m a seller and I can’t watch the auction so how will I know if my property sells? 

After the auction has ended, one of our team will contact you to advise you of the result.

What are the two property auction methods in the UK?

You may have heard the terms ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional sales’. Conditional sales give buyers an extra 30 days to complete the purchase, where unconditional sales must be completed within 30 days. In order to get a full understanding of each of these methods and decide which is best for you, we’d recommend reading our guide detailing the advantages and disadvantages of both. Alternatively, read the buyer FAQ section above for a brief summary of each option.

Who will conduct the viewings?

This depends on the location and condition of your property. Our team of accompanied viewers located across the country conduct viewings wherever possible, and in some cases, we may also be able to offer virtual viewings. We will not be able to conduct viewings on properties that pose a safety risk, and in some cases where a property is tenanted.

Will I need to have an EPC in place?

The majority of properties that are sold by auction will need to have a valid EPC before being sold. However, certain types of buildings are exempt from requiring an EPC rating. These include: places of worship, some buildings that are due to be demolished and listed buildings. For a full list of exemptions, make sure to read the government guidelines.

Do I have to pay Stamp Duty?

You will never have to pay stamp duty on your property as a seller. The buyer always covers this, so it is not something that you need to worry about if you are planning to sell your property by auction.

Do I have to pay Capital Gains Tax?

You may have to pay capital gains tax, depending on your property. If you are unsure, it is best to consult with your solicitor. Typically, capital gains tax is paid on properties sold that are not your main home, your property is very large (over 5,000 square metres), or if your property has been used for business purposes.

How long does completion take?

This depends on the type of auction method you choose to sell by, and whether you choose to list your property as available as an unconditional or conditional sale. Unconditional sales usually have a completion time of 30 days, unless agreed differently prior to the auction, while conditional sales have an additional exclusivity period of 30 days, taking the average completion time to 60 days in total. 

Can I sell a property with a tenant in situ? 

Yes, auctions can be a fantastic way to sell a property with tenants in situ as this can often attract a number of investors. Selling this way allows you to collect rent from the tenant until the sale is completed, and the buyer can then start collecting rent straight away. There are some additional nuances to selling with a tenant in situ, as you may be liable to pay capital gains tax. You might also need to prepare some additional information regarding things such as tenant deposit protection, but our experienced team can assist you with this process and you can read our tips for selling a tenanted property for further guidance.

How does an auction sale price compare to prices achieved by an estate agent?

Put simply, an estate agent price usually starts high and is negotiated down between the buyer and the estate agent. On the other hand, auction prices start low and can only increase through competitive bidding. Auctions are focused on getting a fair price for both buyer and seller, whilst creating a quick sale. Sales through an estate agent can be very lengthy and could  result in a higher price, but of course there are estate agent fees to be added onto the cost of selling. It is important to research both methods to determine which suits you, and our blog on ‘What is the best way to sell a property?’ is designed to help jumpstart your reading.

What risks are involved in an auction sale?

One of the most attractive things about selling by auction is that there are not many risks. Sales are legally binding, which means that a sale is very unlikely to fall through as neither seller or buyer can back out. The biggest risk to selling by auction is setting a reserve price which may not be met. Even if this is the case, however, a post-auction sale can still be completed but you are in control of this as the auctioneer will never sell your property below your reserve price without your explicit permission. It is also worth mentioning that auctions, as an industry average, have a very high success rate and only around 20% of properties do not sell on the day.

Can I accept an offer before auction day?

Yes, you may accept an offer before auction day. If you decide to do so, the sale will still be completed under auction conditions and the auctioneer will request the 10% deposit from the buyer and the exchange of contracts to be completed.

Does my solicitor need to be present at the auction?

You will need to appoint a solicitor through the process of selling your property to create a legal pack and undertake administrative work, but they do not need to be present at the auction as their details will be made available to the purchaser’s solicitor in order to complete the sale.

Is my property suitable for sale via auction?

It is not just homes that are suitable for selling at auction, but many plots of land as well as commercial, residential, and more unusual properties have also been sold through this method. Even ‘problem properties’, such as those with subsidence and invasive plant species can be sold by auction.