Whether you’re a first-time buyer, moving up the ladder or looking to invest your savings in a buy-to-let, purchasing property at auction can be a great option.
Auctions offer so many opportunities and benefits for property buyers. However, there is also an air of mystery surrounding the finer legal details, bidder etiquette and potentially tricky financial implications that can cause worry and stress. A reluctance to see auctions as anything but a safe and viable way to buy is only to be expected.
Auctions are just one of many ways to buy property. In this guide, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about buying a property at auction in Ireland with some helpful do’s and don’ts around the process.
Remember, it’s always wise to do the research and understand your options before diving in. At Gibson & Associates, we’ve got you covered with all the information you might need.
You can use the below quick links to go directly to the different sections of the guide:
- Reasons to buy property at auction
- How to find auction properties
- A property auction timeline
- Getting surveys for auction properties
- Financial aspects to consider
- Auction property conveyancing
- What to bring to a property auction
- Bidding at a property auction
In short, auctions can be a simple, speedy and stress-free way to buy property. They are also a fantastic way to get a property at a lower price.
Auctions are great for people looking for unusual properties that estate agents wouldn’t know how to sell. If no one else has noticed its potential, you could find a bargain. Property at auction can be up to 30% cheaper than those bought through a regular sale.
If you win the bidding you have bought the property. It’s as simple as that. Often, purchasing through an estate agent is a nerve-wracking process fraught with potential pit-falls. The possibility of being pipped at the post by a more attractive last-minute offer is an ever-present threat. At an auction, you can see the people you are bidding against in real time; a bidder is able to nimbly react to counter bids.
Unlike other buying methods, the race to get your bid in first does not apply to an auction. All bidders operate from a level playing field making the process more transparent and fair.
Another benefit of buying at auction is that deals don’t fall through due to protracted delays from other parties or breakdowns in communication. All negotiations play out in the bidding.
Auctions offer flexible methods of bidding (by proxy, by phone or online). Attending an auction event in person is still the most popular way to buy property under the hammer but technology is increasingly providing other options.
INTERESTING: Used by some estate agents the modern method of auction allows buyers to bid on a property online. The buyer will pay a non-refundable reservation fee, but will have a longer completion timescale, giving the buyer time to sort mortgage finance.
DO: your homework.
Decide on the area you’re interested in and contact the auction houses that cater to that area, then ask for a catalogue and subscribe to their mailing list. For a list of upcoming property auctions In Ireland, visit Myhome.ie.
Alternatively, you can find out when there are going to be auctions by reading specialist property magazines and newspapers, as well as asking local estate agents – or looking on the websites of some of the big auction houses.
Auction houses in Ireland:
Before every auction, a catalogue of the properties up for sale will be published. You will usually have between two and four weeks between the publication of an auction catalogue and the sale.
Study the catalogue and make a shortlist of properties you’re interested in. Then contact the auctioneers and arrange an appointment to view the properties. Arrange viewings and, if possible, take a builder or architect with you as this will be a great chance to view and superficially survey the property.
- Contact auction houses and read auctioneer magazines or websites, ask for property brochures
- Work out how much you can afford – use online tools, pull together deposits, research mortgages
- Find a property that is within budget and meets your requirements.
- Organise viewing appointments for the properties that you are interested in
- Contact a chartered surveyor
- Find and instruct a solicitor to do the potential legal work
- Attend a property auction and make a bid
- If you win, pay the deposit on the day with the remainder to be paid up to a month afterwards
Chartered surveyors can undertake surveys of the property for sale as long as the auction house allows access prior to the auction. Sometimes they will post a key to the surveyor, in other cases access is limited to a prearranged viewing appointment. External assessments can be made independently of both of the above situations.
INFORMATION: What’s a building survey?
A building survey is an inspection carried out to get an idea of the general condition of a property. A building survey can take different forms and be carried out by various professionals, but it is very important that the professional you do hire is experienced and competent. A building survey will identify any obvious defects that would ordinarily be missed by the untrained eye, and report on these to the client whilst also outlining recommendations.
Chartered Surveyors typically offer two types of survey. The choice of survey will depend on the age, type and condition of the subject property.
Homebuyer reports can be undertaken in two parts; the inspection and an email summary in advance of the auction with a full written report to follow if the bidder is successful. The summary would typically include the key points including structural movement, dampness and timber defects.
Make sure you know what you’re buying – a homebuyer’s report cost will depend on the conveyance solicitor you hire. A structural survey will also be an added cost, too. You’ll lose any money you have spent if you decide not to buy the property or if your bid is unsuccessful
In addition, a Solicitors Pre-Auction Report (SPAR) will:
- provide insight into the legal state, mortgagability and registrability of the property
- offer practical and cost-effective legal and indemnity insurance-based solutions
SPAR is a thorough report carried out by an auction specialist solicitor that gives buyers:
- awareness of legal issues that could impact the value of the property and pre-auction advice about the options and costs of remedying these issues
- an understanding of the quality of the legal title
- reassurance that the property will be registrable at the Land Registry in the buyer’s name
- reassurance that the property meets the mortgage lender’s criteria (where relevant)
- an understanding of the contract that the buyer will enter into
Try to treat buying a property at auction the same as any other property purchase – make sure you do all the same checks and preparations. Arrange viewings and consider the level of help you might need.
How much does buying property at auction cost?
A bidder may have to pay an administration fee to the auction house in order to take part. This is normally a registration or subscription fee. Contact your nearest property auction house for specific costings.
- Solicitor or conveyancer fees will apply if you want to use these services
- Stamp duty (consult your auction conveyancing solicitor for guidance on costs)
- On signing the contract you’ll be responsible for insuring the property
- VAT might be payable depending on the type of property you are bidding on (consult your auction conveyancing solicitor for guidance on costs)
Property auction guide prices
DON’T: rely on the guide price (the advertised price) Instead, ask local estate agents and neighbours for their opinions and compare it with other properties on sale locally. This will give you a realistic “ball-park” price to consider when you go to auction.
To attract potential buyers the guide price is usually set at a lower cost than what the property is likely to be sold for.
DO: monitor the guide price on the run-up to the auction because if it goes up this might mean there is a lot of interest in the property.
How can I finance buying property at auction?
Much like buying properties through more traditional methods you can arrange mortgages or loans to help you pay for the rest of the property. It is very important to be as organised as possible prior to the auction as proceedings can develop very quickly.
DO: have a mortgage agreement in principle arranged first if this applies to you.
If you’re worried about getting the finance in time, it may be worth thinking about taking out a bridging loan to tide you over until you get the mortgage. A bridging loan helps to cover a gap between payments due and money becoming available.
This type of short-term loan normally only takes about 10 days to arrange, quicker than a typical residential mortgage.
Auction Property Conveyancing
Although conveyancing is much more straightforward with auction properties, it’s still important to have professional legal help. An experienced solicitor in conveyancing, in particular around properties won at auction, is highly recommended.
In lay-man’s terms, conveyancing is the transfer of property from one person to another. This includes dealing with the relevant business arrangements in the exchanging of legal documents and fees incurred. An auction conveyancing solicitor will help you negotiate any of those fees in order to get you the best deal possible.
Gibson & Associates are an Irish law firm with extensive conveyancing experience. Our property auction solicitors provide the peace of mind you need when buying or selling a property. Find out more here.
The legal pack
Auctioneers can give you a legal pack (on request) for properties you’re interested in before the auction. This includes the title deeds, local authority and environmental searches, fixtures-and-fittings list and a seller’s information form, plus any relevant leasehold information.
However – consider asking a solicitor to look over this for any hidden covenants or loopholes that could end up costing you more than you bargained for.
Let’s look at what you’ll need on the day and what actually happens when you attend a property auction.
- Most importantly, if you intend to bid, you will need to be able to pay a 10% deposit of the total fee. The remainder is then payable 20 to 30 days later. You can use cash, a debit card or a banker’s draft.
IMPORTANT: if you can’t pay the remainder you will lose the 10% as well as the chance of buying the house. You may also have to cover the costs of re-selling the property, as well as any shortfall between the price you agreed and the final selling price.
- Two forms of valid photo ID with proof of your current address (passport, utility bill or driving license)
- Details of your solicitor
- Proof that you can afford the 10% deposit.
How to Bid at a Property Auction
Contrary to the way that auctions are portrayed in Hollywood films or daytime television, auctions are a much more relaxed affair than some people imagine. Scratching your ear or repositioning your glasses won’t land you in hot water with an astronomical bid on a property way above your budget.
When the auctioneer suggests a bidding price, clearly raise your hand to signal that you are making a bid. Respond accordingly as the auction progresses.
DO: know your budget and how far you are willing to exceed that to secure the property you want.
DON’T: get carried away and spend all of your budget on a ‘do’er upper’.
The auctioneer may then clarify who made the bid by referring to some identifier such as “the lady with spectacles” or “the gentleman in the blue jacket.”
If you’ve made a mistake simply shake your head, or approach one of the auctioneer’s assistants. Immediately after the auction, the bidder will be asked to sign contracts and pay a non-refundable deposit.
Auctions can be very exciting, some might find them frightening. In both cases, it’s best to make sure you can play it cool on the day.
Property Auction Etiquette
A property auction is a very civilised affair. Basic good behaviour rules apply. Auction events are run in an orderly manner. Bidders and auction staff are expected to interact with each other in a respectful way. Auction assistants are there to help if you have a question or a problem.
To recap: here are our top tips for purchasing property at an Irish auction:
- Be prepared. Have your finances in order before the big day.
- Go and watch a few auctions and get to know how they work.
- Try to do as much research on the properties up for sale in the auction beforehand.
- Know your maximum bid limit. Once the hammer falls you are legally obligated to make the purchase…
- On the day of the auction, arrive early and make sure you have a good place in the auction room so that the auctioneer can see you and your involvement in the bidding process.
- Do not be pressurised into making bids that you are not comfortable with or cannot afford.
- Seek professional advice from a surveyor, auctioneer or/and a solicitor about buying property at auction in Ireland.
About Gibson & Associates
We’re an Irish law firm serving the whole country from our offices based in Dublin & Letterkenny. Our property solicitors have a depth of experience in successfully closing property deals quickly, cleanly and efficiently across the country – from Dublin to Galway and from Cork to Donegal.
To find out about or conveyancing package get in touch with our experienced legal team today by sending us an email here.