How To Set Up An Online Auction UK?

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Online auctions have rapidly grown in popularity in recent years as an efficient way to liquidate property assets and other high-value goods transparently. With a global audience of buyers and low overheads compared to traditional auctions, an online setup allows UK property vendors to maximise returns in an accelerated timeframe when exiting rental portfolios or disposing of inherited estates.

This guide takes you through the key steps involved in establishing your basic online auction in Britain, including platform choices, pre-sale preparation processes and expert tips to maximise results.

Choosing an Online Auction Platform

The first decision to make is which established UK online auction portal you wish to partner with to host your property sale. Specialist platforms allow smaller auction houses, estate agents and private clients to piggyback off their advanced technology, existing broad buyer bases and streamlined administration capabilities. Each has varying fee structures and functionality options, so compare packages in detail before selecting one tailored to your specific catalogue size and budget.

Preparing your Properties

To maximise returns at auction, some level of preparation is advisable to enhance the presentation. First impressions count, so tidy up gardens, remove clutter indoors, undertake any minor repairs and give the interiors a freshen-up with neutral tones. Professional photography and floorplans are also strongly recommended to showcase key features and room dimensions to online bidders scrolling through hundreds of listings. A detailed property description highlighting attributes like gardens, garages and scope for extensions or conversions will also help your lots stand out.

Legal Pack Preparation

The legal pack forms the cornerstone of due diligence for bidders exploring investment potential, so should be extensive yet clear in presentation. It should include title deeds outlining boundaries, energy performance certificates, planning permissions, structural/environmental reports, tenancy details if currently rented, local searches indicating flood/mining risks and fixture and fittings forms. Seeking assistance from a solicitor to compile the various elements into a cohesive bundle can give buyers confidence in the transparency of the sale process.

Setting Reserves

Realistic reserves are crucial to spark initial bidding momentum which other buyers can then build upon with incremental increases. Over-ambitious hopes valuation hamper take-up in early bidding. Consider recent local sale prices for comparable properties when setting figures that balance between motivating interest and reflecting true market value. A modest guide price to exceed expectations later often yields the optimal sales results at the fall of the hammer. Be led by specialist advice from your auctioneer and local estate agents on pricing suited to current market conditions and property type.

Determining Bidding Increments

Giving clear guidance within property descriptions on suitable bid increments avoids stalling momentum. Typically minimum rises of £1000 for sub £100,000 properties up to £5000 jumps for higher value multi-million pound mansions are advisable. Bidding duration and proxy/telephone bidder arrangements also need to be decided upon before launch.

Marketing Your Sale

While online auction sites have existing buyer traffic, additional investment into marketing can significantly boost interest in your specific lots. As well as agent listings and portals creative options include adverts on social media, large roadside billboards near the properties and flyers in local shops, pubs or post offices. Distributing online prospectus links or bespoke promotional brochures to relevant investor mailing lists also taps into motivated audiences already primed to top up portfolios, so can yield serious buyer engagement.

Managing Sales Progression

Once your auction is launched and bids start flooding in, around-the-clock bidder enquiry handling needs to be resourced. Interested parties may request further due diligence materials or on-site viewings to evaluate investment potential based on online catalogue browsing. Managing communications professionally while juggling multi-channel bidding builds a positive reputation. Deploying multiple staff to assist with administrative tasks, technical troubleshooting and answering common queries will keep the sales process progressing smoothly through to completion.

Achieving Successful Sale Completion

Assuming bidding hits or exceeds the reserve on auction day, the highest bid becomes legally binding upon the fall of the gavel with the exchange of contracts occurring almost instantly.  The bidder signs a sale memorandum agreeing to complete the purchase within the stipulated period, usually 28 days in England & Wales. The buyer arranges mortgage finance if needed during this completion window while simultaneously undertaking searches, surveys and other legal due diligence backed by insurance. Simultaneously you withdraw the lot from further marketing and liaise with your solicitor to finalise transfer of ownership via the Land Registry for the agreed sale figure.


Launching an online auction provides opportunities for accelerated sales and capital liquidity. Attracting investor interest relies on attractive asset selection, transparent legal packs and complementary marketing initiatives. Careful pre-auction planning and buyer communication streamline progression towards profitable completion. Seek support from legal and property professionals at all key stages for optimal outcomes.

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