What is an auction?
An auction is an open process at which buyers bid against each other to purchase a property. Once the reserve price is reached, the highest bidder becomes the successful buyer.
Questions you may have as a seller
Should I sell my property by auction?
Auctions can be seen as the best way to sell quickly or achieve a higher price, as the auction process creates a sense of urgency and a feeling of competition between potential buyers. This may or may not be the case and will depend on the property market at the time, how many similar properties are available to potential buyers and how desirable your own property is. Be aware that an auction does not guarantee that someone will offer to buy your property.
Can I have more than one agent if I sell by auction?
No. If you intend to sell by auction you will need to appoint a sole agent. You will need to sign an agency agreement with your agent, and agree on a marketing plan.
Can I sell my property before the auction takes place?
You can do this, but your agent must advertise in their marketing that “offers will be considered prior to auction”. If you do not want to consider offers in advance of the auction, the agent will specify in any advertising that you are “not selling prior”.
There are advantages and disadvantages in either approach. Requiring potential buyers to bid at the auction may get a better price, and a sale at auction is unconditional. However, the property may not sell on the auction day. Accepting an offer prior to the auction means you have a sale, but you may settle for less than an auction could achieve, and the sale may be conditional.
Prior to the auction you will need to establish a reserve price with the auctioneer and your agent. This is the lowest price that you are willing to accept for your property.
What happens at the auction?
Once bidding passes the reserve price, the property is sold to the highest bidder. You will not have the opportunity to negotiate further with that person. You therefore need to think carefully and realistically about the reserve price. For example, you may want to think about the price you would be prepared to accept from a buyer if you were not auctioning the property. At the same time, you need to avoid setting the reserve price at such a high level that bidding does not come near it.
- If the bidding does not reach the reserve price, the auctioneer will pause the auction and ask you for further instructions. At that stage you can do a number of things:
- If bidding has come close to, but not reached the reserve price, the auctioneer may suggest that you agree that the property be put on the market. This means that the reserve price no longer applies, you are willing to accept the highest bid that is made when the auctioneer resumes, and the last bidder before the auction was paused will be held to his/her bid. This approach may result in an immediate sale, but it carries a risk – once you have removed the reserve price and declared the property on the market, you must accept the highest bid, even if that is below your reserve price. You cannot negotiate on subsequent bids.
- You can tell the auctioneer that the property is to be passed in. This means that the auctioneer will tell the bidders that the auction is concluded, as the reserve price has not been reached. The auctioneer will usually make an attempt to generate further bids before closing the auction.
- If the property is passed in, you can negotiate with the person who made the highest bid, but you should be aware that the offer may not be an unconditional one. This negotiation will continue, through your agent, after the auction has closed. You do not have to accept any offer that is made during the subsequent negotiation, and if you cannot negotiate a price and conditions that are acceptable to you, you can discuss with your agent other options for marketing your property.