A wood block toy house besides an auctioneer's gavel. SAM Conveyancing explain what is included in an auction legal pack and auction legal pack costs
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Auction Legal Pack: Do you need one?

24/07/2023
(Last Updated: 07/12/2023)
679
9 min read
Key Takeaways
  • All properties sold at auction should have a legal pack of crucial information for the buyers to review, but it is not a legal requirement.
  • It is all the buyer has on which to base their bid at auction unless you order additional searches & surveys.
  • The seller's conveyancing solicitor prepares the legal pack to make sure all the required information is present and correct for a smooth sale.
  • The pack is released two to seven days before the auction takes place. We can usually review a freehold pack for buyers in 2 working days and a leasehold pack in 5 working days, so order now.
  • Almost all auction packs contain fairly limited information, to avoid a misrepresentation claim in the future.
  • The buyer's solicitor reviews the legal pack to catch any missing information, or cause for concern and prepare a risk report for the buyer to make an informed decision before bidding.

The Auction Legal Pack is the collection of legal documents containing crucial information about the property, allowing potential buyers to assess its legal and practical aspects before bidding on the property and committing to a purchase. Every property sold at auction must have one, but there are no legal requirements for many of these documents to be present.

Read on to understand the significance of the Auction Legal Pack, what it should contain, and why it is crucial for both buyers and sellers in the auction process.

Understanding the Auction Legal Pack

The Auction Legal Pack is a collection of essential documents that provide prospective buyers with detailed information about a property to be auctioned. It is typically prepared by the seller's solicitor and made available to interested parties ahead of the auction date. The pack serves as a vital resource for due diligence, allowing potential buyers to evaluate the property's legal title, any potential issues, and other relevant details.


Why do some sellers skimp on their auction legal pack?

Typically at auction, the seller is not the person who lived in the home. If a seller doesn't have a definite answer to the buyer's questions, the safest answer for them to give is 'I don't know'. If the seller gives an answer as if they know it to be true, when really they haven't done the legwork to determine the answer and then it turns out to be false, they could be liable for misrepresentation, which in the most extreme cases can void the whole transaction.

Now, as a buyer, this is good. It means you can't legally be misled by sellers who are trying to smooth over potential issues to get your money. However, in an auction sale, this can become problematic as the auction legal pack is kind of all you have to base your decision on. The seller is not legally obligated to pay for searches, so there is no guarantee they'll appear in the pack and you won't have the security of having an offer accepted before you order a RICS survey.

Nonetheless, if you are serious about a property, the best way you can make an informed decision when bidding (and minimise the risk of throwing your money away on a dodgy house) is to order your searches in advance and, if possible, get a RICS survey.

What have you got to lose?

If your searches and survey show some problems, the money spent will be worth it, having saved you from bidding more than the property is worth (or at all). If you're pleased with the results of your searches and survey, you can bid with an advantage over the other bidders, who may not have all the information you possess. Unfortunately, you may lose the auction, in which case you may feel the money spent is lost or wasted, but this is simply the nature of bidding at auction. It is still preferable to bid and lose with good information than to push your limit higher and later discover the property is worth less.


Buying at auction?

We strongly recommend that buyers have the legal pack reviewed by an experienced auction conveyancing solicitor. They will review the title and documents and catch missing information and issues or discrepancies with the paperwork. The solicitor prepares a detailed report highlighting any risks identified, so you can make an informed decision about whether and how much to bid. Read more tips for buying at auction.

Freehold Pre-Auction Report Review
Risks of buying a house at auction for Freehold
£299 INC VAT
2 working day turnaround* | Completed by our panel solicitor.
Leasehold Pre-Auction Report Review
Leasehold Block of Flats and the risks of buying at auction
£480 INC VAT
5 working day turnaround* | Completed by our panel solicitor.

Why do I need an auction pack?

Auctions work differently from a standard purchase, where making an offer is not legally binding. Making a winning bid will bind the buyer to the contract of sale (or reservation agreement). This means that the buyer must review the legal paperwork before bidding. (Traditional buyers would have time after their offer was accepted to review the relevant information with the help of their conveyancing solicitor, before exchanging contracts).

What is included in auction legal pack?

The Auction Legal Pack includes various documents that shed light on different aspects of the property. Some of the key components you can expect to find in the pack are:

1. Legal Title and Ownership Details

This section includes the property's title deeds, Land Registry documents, and details about the current owner. It confirms that the seller has the legal right to sell the property.

2. Searches and Local Authority Information

The pack may contain search results that provide information on environmental considerations, potential developments, and other factors that may impact the property. If there are any additional searches you would like to consider before bidding, we can turn many of our conveyancing searches around in just two working hours.

3. Contract & Special Conditions of Sale

These are specific terms and conditions set by the seller, applicable to the auction sale. Buyers must review these carefully as they may differ from standard property transactions. In a legal pack review, your solicitor will spot anything out of the ordinary and explain the risks and liabilities so you know what you are signing up for.

4. Property Information Forms

These are standard forms, such as TA6 Property Information Form, TA10 Fittings and Contents Form and (if leasehold) TA7 Leasehold Information Form.

5. Property Certificates

These include the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and any documentation relating to planning permissions and building control sign off, or indemnity insurance. Without a survey, you may have no indication that there were works on the property which are missing this documentation. This could cost you a fortune if the local authority forces you to remedy the works.

6. Leasehold Information pack (if applicable)

In the case of leasehold properties, the leasehold information pack includes details of the lease agreement, management information, ground rent, service charges, and any associated restrictions. The seller must purchase this from their freeholder at their own expense.

7. Tenancy information (if property is let)

All relevant documentation, such as a copy of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Agreement if this is applicable, or individual room tenancy agreements for Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO), together with HMO licence if applicable.

8. Property Valuation and Survey Reports

Occasionally, the pack may include a surveyor's report or a property valuation, if the seller has undertaken these to assist with the sale (normally they'd be conducted by the buyer). This will offer insights into the condition and value of the property. It is uncommon for the seller to take on this optional expense, so we recommend the buyers order their own RICS survey if at all possible.


Why is the auction legal pack important for Buyers?

The auction legal pack is important for buyers to make an informed decision and reduce the risk of discovering nasty surprises when it's too late to back out of the purchase. With the help of a specialist solicitor, you can determine whether the property suits your needs and what it is worth before you bid.


Why is the auction legal pack important for Sellers?

Sellers benefit from providing as much factual information as they can about the property. This demonstrates transparency and trustworthiness to potential buyers, who will be able to bid with confidence, usually improving the sale price. Choose experienced auction solicitors to prepare a comprehensive legal pack, meeting the shorter timescales of auction selling.

Selling at auction?

The process is quite different from a standard sale and presents its own set of benefits and challenges. Read our guide on Selling a Property at Auction.

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Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written 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.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed 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.

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