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Part II of II: Going. Going. Gone.

Dress rehearsal

It really is worth doing a dry run for a phantom auction to experience the process and get a feeling for the competitive frenzy. Attend one even if you are not buying. Make plenty of notes as an aide memoire.


Get there in good time for your Lot and re-read the legal packs. Find a spot where you are comfortable and visible to the auctioneer. Know your spending limit. Auction fever is a real phenomenon. It’s easy to get carried away by it. Write down your maximum bid for each property before you go in. Stick to it. Don’t over-bid. Sit on your hands. You’re there to buy a property not compete with egos in the room. Be cool so you don’t get hot under the collar.

Play it cool

Be prepared to go home empty-handed. There are plenty of auction houses in London. If you’re outbid today there will be another chance round the corner.

Approachable auctioneers

It’s perfectly acceptable to request that the auctioneer takes smaller bids eg. £1000 increments as the bidding rapidly increases. Ultimately the decision lies with the auctioneer. That said they will deviate from rising the bids by £5,000 to keep bidders in the game in an attempt to keep the room alive and “help out” potential purchasers. However, you must ask for it.

Auction House rules

If you are successful, you’ll need a £10% deposit so have a pre-approved facility in place. Check payment methods. My last auction did not take cheques. Fortunately, they trusted me to transfer the money to their account in the morning. That was a close shave.  

The Paper Monster

If the hammer purchase has your name on it you’ll be required to complete a raft of paperwork. Check the auction catalogue for the list of documents they require. It’s a checklist. Don’t leave out a thing and ensure you have everything such as ID (passport or utility bill and proof you can afford the 10% deposit).

You’ll also need to be on the ball. No room to dilly dally or shilly shally:

  • Send the sale documents to your solicitor as soon as the hammer falls
  • Respond to their enquiries at once as auction purchases typically complete within three to six weeks
  • Call them and your lender/broker regularly to ensure everything stays on track
  • Sort out insurance ASAP as you are the owner and therefore liable

Do you have any stories – the good, the bad or the ugly that you can share about your auction experience?