Optimising Auction Solutions: Techniques For Successful Property Auctions In The UK

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Property auctions in the UK have become an increasingly popular way for buyers to purchase residential and commercial properties. For sellers, auctions can provide a fast and effective method to liquidate properties. However, successfully selling at auction requires careful preparation and marketing. This article will explore best practices for optimising auction solutions in the UK property market.

Choosing the Right Auctioneer

One of the most important decisions vendors make is selecting the right auctioneer. There are over 300 auctioneers licenced to operate in the UK, ranging from small regional firms to large national chains. Sellers should research options and look for an auctioneer with:

  • Industry experience – Long-standing auctioneers have extensive knowledge of the property market and solid relationships with buyers. Newer entrants may lack the same depth of expertise.
  • Specialist knowledge – Auctioneers who focus specifically on the property are preferable to generalists. Relevant specialisms include commercial, residential, land and property development.
  • Robust auction calendar – Frequent, well-attended auctions demonstrate an auctioneer’s network and reach. Biannual or quarterly auctions are typical.
  • Competitive sales rates – Look for consistently high sales success compared to the industry average of 65%. Higher rates indicate strong buyer interest.
  • Regional coverage – For wider sales distribution, choose an auctioneer with national coverage or access to various regional hubs.
  • Marketing expertise – Maximise exposure by partnering with an auctioneer who will extensively promote properties pre-auction.
  • Reasonable fees – Commission fees typically range from 2-3% of the sale price. Ensure fees are competitive and transparent.

Setting the Reserve Price

The reserve price is the minimum amount the seller is willing to accept for the property at auction. This confidential figure is key to a successful sale. When setting reserves, sellers should:

  • Consult the auctioneer – Their valuation guidance is invaluable for pitching at the right level to generate interest and meet expectations.
  • Research comparable sales – Analysing prices obtained for properties with similar locations, types and conditions provides a benchmark. The reserve should be just below average.
  • Factor in marketing costs – The total expenses involved in an auction sale need to be covered by the reserve price. This includes the auctioneer’s commission, advertising and preparation costs.
  • Consider the property’s condition – Properties in poor condition or needing repairs should be reserved at a lower price point. Buyers expect higher discounts for properties requiring substantial work.
  • Allow room for negotiation – Setting the reserve slightly below the desired minimum price leaves wiggle room for buyers seeking deals. Most fall short of the listing price.
  • Be realistic – Reserves that are set too high could deter bidders and risk the property failing to reach the threshold at auction. Overpricing leads to unsold lots.

Preparing Legal Documentation

To proceed to UK auction houses, all legal ownership documentation must be in order. Sellers should complete the following well in advance of the auction date:

  • Title deed – Have the official Land Registry title plan and register available. The auctioneer will need to review and verify ownership.
  • Leasehold documents – For leasehold sales, obtain current copies of the lease, service charge details and ground rent liabilities from the freeholder.
  • Mortgage documents – If currently mortgaged, arrange for an auction release figure from the lender. This provides the exact amount required to repay the loan.
  • Specialist property reports – Certain properties require additional information like energy performance certificates (EPCs), mining reports and flood risk assessments.
  • Identification – Auctioneers will undertake Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks. Provide proof of seller identity and residence.
  • Auction contract – The vendor completes a contract authorising the auctioneer to sell the property at auction and transfers the title if successful.

Marketing the Property

Generating broad awareness among registered buyers is critical to competition on auction day. Sellers should utilise:

  • Online listings – Auctioneers showcase properties on their website with full details, hi-res photos and virtual tours. Listings are indexed across property portals.
  • Digital advertising – Promoted social media posts, pay-per-click ads, retargeting and email campaigns directly engage buyers.
  • Print advertising – Adverts in property publications extend reach. Auction catalogues containing all lots also circulate before auctions.
  • Viewing days – Allow potential bidders to inspect the property at scheduled open house events. Feedback guides pricing and participation.
  • Signage – A sign outside the property signals active auction status. Include the agency’s branding and custom QR codes linking to the online listing.
  • PR and events – Auctioneers may issue press releases or highlight key lots at preview exhibitions to build extra buzz.

Attracting Buyers

Auction day brings qualified prospects already familiar with the property from sales particulars and viewings. Additional buyer engagement tactics include:

  • Digital bidding – Many auctioneers facilitate remote online and telephone bidding alongside in-room bids. This widens the buyer pool.
  • Proxy bidding – Absentee buyers can authorise the auctioneer to automatically bid on their behalf up to a set limit using proxy bid forms.
  • Bidder registration – Auctioneers qualify buyers by having them complete registration paperwork and provide identification before bidding commences.
  • Bidder incentives – To attract extra bidders, sellers may offer complementary sales incentives including furnishings or home warranties.
  • Auction finance – Auctioneers partner with lenders offering quick finance approvals. On-site advisers assist buyers with arranging funds.
  • Legal packs – Bidders have access to property legal documents to perform due diligence checks in advance of auction day.

Achieving a Successful Sale

Come auction day, a smooth sales process leads to the best outcome. On the day:

  • Arrive early – Both seller and auctioneer should be on-site well before bidding begins to troubleshoot any last-minute issues.
  • Check attendance – Gauge buyer turnout in the room. A packed auction venue confirms strong demand.
  • Bring identity documents – The seller will need to provide ID again for the contract signing if the reserve is met.
  • Answer queries – Be available as the auctioneer fields final bidder questions just before the lot comes up.
  • Wait calmly – Refrain from overly emotional reactions during tense bidding. This may influence dynamics.
  • Let the auctioneer guide pace – Allow them to manage bid increments and vendor bids to optimise the sale price.
  • Have a reserve floor – While negotiable, hold a firm minimum price below which accepting a sale isn’t advised.
  • Know when to sign – Be prepared to sign the transfer contract immediately if bidding exceeds the reserve.
  • Have funds ready – Buyers may pay a deposit on auction day, so ensure change is available. The balance settles later.
  • Celebrate success – Sold lots means everyone wins. Enjoy the auction experience and sale profits!


Auctioning property in the UK can be highly effective when executed strategically using the right techniques. Sellers should thoroughly research auctioneers, prepare properties for sale, price reserves competitively, extensively market lots and follow best practices on auction day to achieve sales at the maximum possible price. With careful optimisation of the process, auctions provide an advantageous sales method.

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