Auction Conveyancing - SAM's Conveyancing's buyers guide
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Auction Conveyancing Solicitors

(Last Updated: 07/12/2023)
10 min read
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Buying a property at auction differs from the standard conveyancing process and the potential risks and gains should be assessed equally; especially as you'll be contractually bound to buy the auction property after you win the bid. Read more - What are the risks of buying at auction?

What is the auction conveyancing process?

1. Seller lists property at auction house

They'll also instruct a auction property solicitors to prepare the auction legal pack.

2. The buyer chooses the property they are interested to bid on

3. Auction Legal Pack becomes available to review

Normally 2-5 days prior to auction date the auction pack becomes available to view. It isn't mandatory to use a solicitor to review the documents, however many savvy buyers do.

4. Auction takes place.

If you win then you pay your 10% deposit on the day and are contractually bound to buy the property. Read our - Top tips for buying at auction property

5. Post Auction Conveyancing

You solicitor handles the completion for the date set in the contract; normally 21 to 56 days after auction.

What are the different types of auction?

What documents are included within the Auction Legal Pack?

Prior to the auction day the auction house provides a legal pack about the property being sold. The pack will normally contain all of the following:

Whilst the above is what you should receive when buying property at auction the legal pack can lack information; especially if it is a repossession auction because the seller didn't live in or own the property so they have very little or knowledge of the auction property. This is why you need specialist auction solicitors to review the legal pack prior to the auction and report what information you do not have and flag issues in what documents have been provided.

The information is normally limited and should be reviewed by a solicitor before you make an offer. Conveyancing solicitors will be happy to prepare a pre-auction report based on this information, and any other that they can obtain, prior to you attending the auction house. This costs much less than the conveyancing for a full purchase.

Freehold Pre-Auction Report Review
Risks of buying a house at auction for Freehold
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Leasehold Pre-Auction Report Review
Leasehold Block of Flats and the risks of buying at auction
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Watch out when buying leasehold flats at auction

A common mistake is to buy a leasehold property at auction without finding out the lease term first. Leasehold properties with short leases (under 80 years) may not be able to be mortgaged. For some seasoned auction buyers a short lease is an opportunity, here's what you can do: Buying a leasehold property with a short lease.

Winning Bid - Legally binding once the hammer falls
Unlike with standard conveyancing, where you can take as much time as you like before you confirm you are happy to exchange contracts, an auction property is legally binding at the point the hammer comes down. You'll have to pay your auction fees, 10% deposit and complete the purchase in 28 days (the normal agreed time frame).

You never truly know why a property is being sold at auction. Was it that the seller needed a fast sale? Does the property have a structural defect that can't be fixed? Is the lease short and the freeholder won't extend? Is the council looking to enforce the removal of an extension with no planning permission? (read more about What hazards to look for when buying a home)

The challenge is that if there is an issue post-auction, you could be buying a property that isn't able to be sold on the open market, or your mortgage lender won't lend you the money because of the issue. This exposes you to losing your 10% deposit and the legal costs of the seller.

How are you financing the purchase?

  • Cash. For speed buyers choose to buy cash from personal savings or company loan. The goal being to purchase quickly and then refinance post completion or look for a quick sale following completion of works. Some lenders won't agree to provide finance on the property until it has been registered for 6 months.
  • Bridging Finance. You can raise bridging finance on the property or another asset for short term cash flow. Read more - What is a Mortgage Bridge Loan?.
  • Standard Mortgage. This is more risky as you can often run out of time to get the mortgage in time for the short completion. You may also find out the property isn't mortgageable due to its condition.

What are the risks of buying at auction?

When buying at auction there are no guarantees. If you buy at auction you do so caveat emptor (literally 'let the buyer beware'), which means that if there's something wrong with the property, you probably won’t have any comeback against the seller or the auctioneers. You might have a remedy if there were misrepresentations in the auction catalogue or legal pack, however this is a complicated area of law and you'll need a property auction solicitors. You could be faced with the prospect of possibly expensive litigation, which is best avoided. Read more - What are the risks of buying at auction?

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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Risks of buying at auction