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The guide to selling a house at auction and alternative options

Selling a house at auction can be a good idea if your property has structural issues or any other problems that could prevent it from selling on the open market.

Quick cash buying companies, like ours, can buy any property and prevent the cost of selling a house at auction. We'll buy the house in any condition and will save you the hassle of having to sell your property yourself.

Quick Page Navigation

  1. What is a house auction?
  2. How to sell a house at auction - the process
  3. How long does it take to sell at auction?
  4. Pros & Cons of selling at auction
  5. What is the cost of selling a house at auction?
  6. How do I choose an auction house?
  7. What should my guide price be?
  8. What should my reserve be?
  9. Should I accept offers in advance of the auction taking place?
  10. Is selling a house at auction right for me?
  11. Alternatives to selling at auction
  12. Auction FAQs

What is a house auction?

selling a house at auctionThere are several things to remember when you are considering selling a house at auction. To help you understand how the whole process works, we’ll walk you through it:

  1. Fees - the auction house will take a cut from the sale of your property and this will be around 2.5% of the property price
  2. Choose the right auction house - do your research and find one that specialises in house auctions and has a good reputation
  3. Accept offers in advance - this is legal and is a way to get a quicker sale and a price you’re happy with
  4. Set a reserve price - this is the seller’s minimum acceptable price at auction and the figure below which the auctioneer cannot sell. It may be up to 10% higher than the guide price and remains confidential between the seller and the auctioneer
  5. Set a guide price - this is a value that gives buyers a general idea of how much the seller wants. Selling a house at auction is a gamble so the final selling price could end up being higher or lower than the guide price
  6. Prep your property for a viewing - do some basic DIY, tidy the garden and de-clutter. Even if your property has structural issues, you’ll do better at auction if you show it in its best light
  7. Self-advertise - use social media to get your property in front of as many people as possible for free. You could even take out an ad in your local paper
  8. Auction day - if you decide to attend then get there early, stay calm and hope for the best. If your property doesn’t hit its reserve then you may have the opportunity to seal a deal after the auction with a potential buyer

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How to sell a house at auction - The process

Buying a house at auction is relatively straight forward, but if you’re new to auctions then we’ve got some information to offer you an insight into how the process works:

  • Properties - the types of properties sold at auction are usually problem properties. By this we mean properties that have been repossessed, require renovations, are difficult to value or are unusual
  • Picking your auctioneer – whether you’re selling via a traditional estate agent or you’re selling a house at auction, you need to do your research first. Shop about, read reviews and be informed before picking an auction house
  • Setting the price - agree your reserve price with your auction house. This amount isn’t shared with bidders because it’s the lowest amount you would be happy to accept for the property. The guide price is the amount that bidders will see and gives potential buyers a guide as to what the property is worth
  • Before the auction - make sure your solicitor is on stand-by so give them plenty of notice to prepare the relevant documents. Find out what the fees will be from your auctioneer so you don’t get any nasty surprises. Make sure the auctioneer has advertised your property in a variety of ways i.e. a glossy brochure and newspaper adverts, as well as online to get more exposure. Your auctioneer will inform you if anyone has put in an offer prior to the auction taking place. You must let your auctioneer know if any changes occur, either to the property or its circumstances so they can make the required amends
  • On the day - time will be set aside for potential bidders to enquire about any last-minute changes. If there are any changes, the brochure will be updated. Hopefully you will get a buyer and they must pay a 10% deposit there and then so that contracts can be exchanged. Then you must pay your fees to the auctioneer. If your property doesn’t hit its reserve then you’re able to approach the highest bidder via the auctioneer or your solicitor to negotiate a deal with them

The whole process takes around 28 days, but it might be sooner, depending on if you accept an early bid or a buyer settles their remaining balance faster than expected.

How long does it take to sell at auction?

Selling at auction can be a relatively quick process, you're looking at anywhere between 6 to 10 weeks as long as your house sells during the auciton of course, this also depends on how long it takes for the auction house to actually put the house up for auction. As long as you set a reasonable asking price and reserve then you hopefully shouldn't have an issue in getting the ball rolling on your sale.

Pros & Cons of selling a house at auction

If you’re considering selling a house at auction then it is really important to weigh up the pros and cons of this service.

✔ Quick sale
✖ Sale isn’t guaranteed
✔ Chain-free
✖ Uncertainty over how much over your reserve price you’ll make until the auction actually takes place
✔ Competitive – you could get a great price for your property if it is marketed to create a buzz
✖ High fees – entry fee as well as possible commission fees once the auction completes
✔ You keep control because a buyer can’t legally pull out
✖ You’ll need to move out quickly because the completion time is only a matter of weeks
✔ Property investors are always looking for projects so ‘problem’ houses are attractive to them
✖ All sales are final so you may feel disappointed if you don’t get what you expected and you can’t back out should your personal circumstances change

There are alternatives to selling a house at auction. Quick cash buyers can buy any property, in any condition and for a fair price.

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What is the cost of selling a house at auction?

Selling a house at auction could cost nearly £1200 plus VAT in solicitor’s fees and then the selling at auction fees are on top of that, at around 2.5% of the final sale price of the property. Even if your property doesn’t sell, you’ll have to pay the auction fee. The Property Buying Company covers all legal fees and doesn’t charge commission, meaning that the amount we offer you is the amount you’ll receive.

How do I choose the right auction house?

It can be tricky trying to choose an auction house to sell your property with, there are so many to choose from! Who you choose to go with depends on what you are trying to sell, there are sometimes specialist auctioneers for your particular property, especially if it is quite unique. That being said your best option is usually to go with a larger auction house as they tend to have a bigger database of investors that they can outreach to immediately, according to NetHousePrices.com here are some of the top auction houses that cover most the UK:

What should my guide price be?

Setting the right guide price is key to getting a quick sale through an auction. The guide price is the price that the public are aware of and you should use it to capture the attention of as many buyers as you possibly can. Your auctioneer should give you a steer on this but it all comes down to what you think the market value of your house is. It's just to provide an idea of how much the house is worth and even if you put it lower than your reserve you don't have to accept any of the offers. If you are still unsure then you can visit our "How much is my house worth" page for more information.

What should my reserve price be?

The reserve price is simply the lowest price you will be able to accept - it completely depends on your situation but again this is something that your auctioneer can help you with. If all the offers you get on your property are lower than this then your property will be withdrawn. Think long and hard about it though, if someone offers your reserve price then the hammer will drop and you can't drop out at this point!

If you get your reserve wrong and nobody offers high enough, don't worry. After the auction has finished you can still negotiate with any of the buyers at the auction.

Should I accept offers in advance of the auction taking place?

Before your property goes to auction it will be marketed to buyers via the auctioneer and you could potentially get a number of viewings prior to the auction day. At this point you will sometimes find that potential buyers make you an offer before the auction and it is then up to you as to whether you want to take that or risk going to auction.

It would be wrong for us to say whether you should accept this offer or not because it depends on your personal circumstances, if you want a quick sale as a priority then you may want to accept it, however if someone is making an offer prior to the property going to auction it often means that they think there will be a high demand for it so they're trying to prevent a bidding war.

Is selling a house at auction right for me?

Although a number of properties can do well at auction, it is a gamble. If you don’t meet your reserve then you’ll still have to pay the selling at auction fees and sell your property. Always seek advice from the auctioneer before agreeing to sell your house via this platform. They are experienced enough to let you know if your property is likely to sell and for how much. Don’t go ahead with it if you feel uneasy about anything and if you need a quick sale of your property remember that there are other options available to you.

Alternatives to selling at auction

Selling a house at auction can be a great way to get rid of a problem property and it can be pretty exhilarating. However, if you want to guarantee the quick sale of your property then a quick cash buyer could be a better option. The Property Buying Company will offer you a fair cash sum, will complete in a timescale to suit you and will include all legal fees so there are no hidden extras to worry about down the line. What’s even better is that no property is off-limits, even ones that are in need of a lot of renovation or repair.

Auction FAQs

What happens if a property doesn't sell at auction?

The property will then be withdrawn from the sale and the auctioneer will ask any interested bidders to speak to them afterwards in which point they can make a bid directly to yourselves.

Do I have to accept the highest bid?

No, not unless the bid is over what you set as your reserve price. As soon as the offer goes above the reserve then the highest offer will be accepted.

How quickly will I have to move out?

It depends upon which auction option that has been selected and the auction house you choose however generally speaking you are looking at anywhere between 28 - 56 days.

If the prospective buyer does not agree to pay the fee do I lose my offer?

You will need to talk to your chosen agent about this, they can advice you accordingly.


How much can you get?

Complete a few details to see if your property qualifies and get a cash offer

5 simple steps to having your property sold!

Our quick (but thorough) 5 step sale process means we can buy your house fast and at a great price

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  • 01.

    Check to see if your property is eligible check now

  • 02.

    Receive an offer from us within 24 hours

  • 03.

    We’ll visit your property & formalise our offer

  • 04.

    We’ll instruct solicitors and pay all fees

  • 05.

    Exchange contracts & complete as usual

Rated as Excellent - aww thanks guys!

Independent reviews of our service from reviews.co.uk

4.77 Average

500 Reviews

wahab ali

really help us alot

Posted 2 days ago


An excellent service and lots of info and contact between both parties, a special mention and thanks to Justine for her help and advice, would certainly recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago


Great Service and quick completion, thank you

Posted 2 weeks ago

Happy Customer

Patrick was the perfect gent. Professional, knowledgeable and speedy service. I.d recommend this company for a fast sale.

Posted 1 month ago

Karen Atkins

Charlotte Melia was so helpful on the telephone in discussing the useful services provided by the Property Buying Company. No hard sell, just professional advice discussed in an open and friendly manner to (in my case) someone with little knowledge of options to gat a fast sale guaranteed. I'd definitely recommend speaking to this team, and I would do so again in future if I had this need for speed again. Many thanks Charlotte!

Posted 1 month ago

Why sell your house to us?

We’re one of the leading buyers of residential/commercial property and land in England and Wales. We buy using our own cash facility meaning we can offer the best prices in our industry and complete the sale quicker than anyone else.

Your options Average sale length Typical cost to you
The Property Buying Company 2-3 weeks £0.00
Other House Buying Companies 2-10 weeks £1000
Property Auction 6-10 weeks £2500-£5000
Online Estate Agents 16-52 weeks £1000(upfront)-£5000
Estate Agents 16-52 weeks £5000

Unlike most of the other options available to you, we are not a broker or middle man, meaning you skip the fees and get a sale quickly and easily.

The Property Buying Company is registered with the Property Ombudsman and is a member of the National Association of Property Buyers

National Association of Property Buyers The Property Ombudsman

Properties bought by us for cash in
the last 2 years


Of our own money spent buying
property for cash

2-3 weeks

Average time taken from initial offer
to completion