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Auctions have become a popular way to buy and sell property for individuals, investors, banks and receivers. The speed of the process makes it attractive. Buying at auction is different to buying a property from an estate agent. Once the hammer falls and your bid is accepted on a property, you will be required to sign contracts at the auction and pay a non-refundable deposit to the auctioneer. This forms a binding contract between you and the seller of the property.

Auctions make people excited. Bidding can get intense and auctions have been known to turn the most sensible person into a complete fruit cake for the few seconds needed to commit them into binding contracts!

What are the steps to buying a Property at Auction?

When you are thinking about buying at auction there are a number of steps which you will need to complete:

1. Call the auctioneer and arrange a viewing of the property.
2. It is very important that you budget and make provision for the various costs involved in purchasing a property such as stamp duty and solicitor’s fees. You should work out the maximum that you are willing to pay for a property and stick with it.
3. It will be necessary for you to have a solicitor request and review the contracts and title documents as soon as possible. Your solicitor will review the documents prior to the auction and raise any queries that are necessary with the seller’s solicitors.
4. It is vital that you have the property surveyed by an engineer before the auction. If a property seems like a bargain, there may be a reason. If a defect or major defects are discovered in a property after you have signed contracts at the auction you will have no recourse against the seller or the auctioneer. An engineer will spot things that will not be obvious to you or me. Your engineer will check any alterations or extensions and all the relevant planning documents.
5. Your engineer should also check the map that you receive relating to the property to ensure that the property and area included in the auction corresponds with what is on the map.
6. Your engineer should also carry out a planning search in the Local Authority office to ensure that the property that you intend to purchase is fully compliant with planning permission and building regulations.
7. You should also attend the Local Authorities’ office yourself and investigate if there are any developments planned for the area such as major roads, large housing estates, dumps, etc.
8. Prior to auction, you will need to have your financial arrangements in place. If you are successful at the auction you will be required to:

  • sign a binding contract to purchase the property
  • pay the deposit
  • pay the balance on the closing date as set out in the contract

If you are obtaining a mortgage you will need to sort out your mortgage application in advance of the auction.

Note: properties at auction are not sold ‘subject to finance’ or ‘subject to survey’. The property is sold ‘as is’. If you are the successful bidder, you are legally obliged to complete the sale.

Do your homework, set a budget for yourself and make sure you have everything prepared in advance. You do not want to find out after you are successful at auction that no lender will give you a mortgage.

9. You should arrange to obtain the details of when and where the auction will be taking place. I would advise that you would attend one or two auctions just to see how auctions work before doing it for real. You will learn how people bid at auction and how they react to price increases.
10. On the day of the auction, it is not unusual for there to be amendments to the contract. If there are any amendments in relation to title, planning or maps, it will be necessary for you to speak to your solicitor.

What happens on the day of the Auction?

When you arrive at the auction you may be required to register as a bidder, but this is not always the case. Arrive early on the day of the auction. The format is usually as follows:

  • The auctioneer will announce that they are going to start the auction.
  • The auctioneer will announce each property lot and if there are any last minute changes the auctioneer will generally refer to them.
  • It is not unusual for the seller’s solicitors to read through the contract for sale on the day of the auction.
  • The auctioneer will then ask for the opening bid.

Bidding at an Auction

Once the auction is in progress you can make a bid by raising your hand or catalogue. Properties are, unless otherwise stated, offered for sale subject to a reserve price. There is huge difference between a ‘guide price’ and a ‘reserve price’.


A guide price is intended to be an indication of the price range a property is likely to sell for.


A reserve price is the price below which the seller will not sell the property at auction.


The auctioneer will increase the bidding in increments. Before the property is sold and there appears to be no further bids, the auctioneer warns ‘going once, going twice, for the third and for the last time… SOLD’. The hammer will fall and the property is sold to the highest bidder. This is of course provided the amount of the last bid is the reserve amount or above.

If I am the Highest Bidder – what happens next?

Once the hammer falls and if you are the highest bidder, you will sign binding contracts for the property and give a deposit cheque of 10% of the purchase price.  Remember to take one part of the contract with you and give this to your solicitor.

However, if you are the highest bidder but the reserve price is not reached at auction, this means that the property will not be sold to you. In these situations, the auctioneer will note your bid and contact details and seek further instructions from the seller.

When do I complete the purchase?

This is usually stated in the contract for sale. It is generally 4 to 5 weeks from the day of the auction. Matters will be finalised through your solicitor.

Do I have to pay Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty is a tax charged on the documents that transfer the ownership of property from one person to another. It is paid by the purchaser of the property. Stamp duty is an additional expense that must be taken into account when buying a property.

The level of Stamp Duty that you pay depends on the following:

  • whether the property is residential or non-residential
  • the value of the property that you are purchasing
  • your status e.g. first time buyer, owner occupier, investor.

The current Stamp Duty rate on residential property is as follows:

Residential property includes houses, duplex and apartments.

Residential property

Property value          Rate
Up to €1,000,000


The current Stamp Duty rates on non-residential property is as follows:

Non-residential property includes commercial property such as a shop, a warehouse, and also land, etc.

Non-residential property

Property value         Rate
All property


What are the costs involved in purchasing a property?

Stamp Duty : The amount payable will depend on the type of property, the value and your status. Click here for details on Stamp Duty.

Solicitors Fees : You should obtain a quote from your solicitor.

Surveyors Fees : The engineer/surveyor will complete a report on the condition of the property and will check the maps to the property.

Search Fees :  Will vary depending on the title and extent of the enquiries to be made.

Registration Fee : The costs associated with registering the title, either with the Registry of Deeds or the Land Registry

Insurance : It is essential that adequate insurance be put in place covering the structure of the property when the auction is over.

Life Cover : Your lending institution will also insist that mortgage protection insurance be taken out. This ensures that if the borrower dies that the proceeds of the mortgage protection insurance will pay off the remainder of the mortgage.

VAT : VAT may be payable in certain circumstances – you will need to discuss this in further detail with your solicitor/accountant.

For further information on buying a Property at Auction,  please Contact Us.


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