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Auction Conveyancing Solicitors

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Written by Reviewed by Leonie Rowe

26th Oct 2022 (Last updated on 19th Apr 2024) 7 minute read

There is no legal requirement for you to instruct a conveyancer when buying a property at auction. However, if you are purchasing with the assistance of a mortgage, your lender may refuse to provide you with said mortgage unless a conveyancer is appointed.

Property transactions can be complex and comprise of a variety of legal obligations and complexities, all of which a solicitor is trained to take care of. Buying a house at auction works differently to a traditional purchase, so it's highly recommended to hire an auction conveyancing solicitor.

When purchasing at auction, it’s imperative that you instruct a conveyancer prior to the auction so that your conveyancer can review the legal pack for the property and advise you fully before proceeding. If a bid is made and accepted prior to legal advice being received, and you decide you no longer wish to proceed, this may result in a loss of your deposit/ reservation fee and/or action being taken against you. Make sure to get conveyancing quotes from multiple auction conveyancing solicitors as quotes could vary.

  1. Auction Conveyancing Explained
  2. What is a Legal Pack?
  3. What’s Included in the Legal Pack?
  4. What is a Pre-Auction Report?
  5. What is a Title Search?
  6. The Auction Conveyancing Process
  7. Auction and Solicitor Fees
  8. Do I Need a Mortgage to Buy an Auction Property?
  9. Is Buying at Auction Legally Binding?
  10. Finding a Solicitor for Auction

Auction Conveyancing Explained

It is worth noting that there are two types of auction process: the traditional auction and the modern auction. It’s also important to understand the type of auction that you are attending before bidding on a property due to the implications of said bid.

Traditional Auctions

With a traditional auction, a bid should be made on the auction date. If accepted, you'll pay your deposit, exchange contracts and are legally obliged to complete your purchase within the timeframe set.
This timeframe can vary depending on the seller’s terms, but is usually 14-28 days. Failure to complete within the timeframe can result in the loss of your deposit, the loss of the property and/or action being taken against the buyer.

Modern Auctions

The modern auction process also requires a bid to be made on the auction date. However, the winning bidder is required to pay only a reservation fee to secure the property. It’s important to note that the reservation fee is in addition to the purchase price.

Unlike the traditional auction, contracts are not ‘exchanged’ at auction. The buyer will have a time limit in which contracts must be exchanged and the transaction completed. Failure to meet this timeframe can result in the reservation being withdrawn along with a loss of the reservation fee and/or action being taken against the buyer.

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What is a Legal Pack?

The legal pack is a compilation of information and/or documents that the seller has provided relating to the property. Your conveyancer will review the legal pack and provide you with a detailed report on it’s contents. This helps you make an informed decision as to whether or not you would like to make a bid for the property.

What’s Included in the Legal Pack?

The contents of a legal pack can vary depending on the information held by the seller. It may normally include the following documents:

  • Official register of title
  • Special conditions of sale
  • Search information (environmental searches, such as drainage)
  • Property information form
  • Fixtures and fittings form
  • Copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Planning permissions
  • Official leasehold information form (leaseholds only)
  • Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) copy (tenanted properties only)
  • Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSE) forms (commercial properties only)

What is a Pre-Auction Report?

A pre-auction report is an in-depth review of the legal pack before the auction itself. The report provides all the relevant information to help the buyer make up their mind about the property.

This report also consists of:

  • A total figure for the buyer to expect to pay. This includes extra costs that the buyer will be liable for once the bid is successful.
  • Additional searches, such as environmental and chancel check searches. This lets owners know about repair liabilities. For example, if the property owner is liable for the upkeep of the local church.
  • The buyer’s solicitor will contact the seller’s solicitor to get information that is missing from the legal pack.
  • A final, detailed report complete with post-completion formalities.

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What is a Title Search?

A title search is an examination of public records to confirm the legal ownership of the property. It searches through tax liens, court judgements, deeds, and land records to confirm a clean title.

In a standard conveyancing process, you can raise any issues directly with the seller. Auctions don’t have a chain of transactions, so buyers very rarely get to meet the seller. The title search provides useful information for the potential buyer before making the bid.

The Auction Conveyancing Process

The auction conveyancing process is faster than the standard conveyancing process for the buyer and seller. This is because the majority of legal work is completed prior to the auction and strict deadlines are set for exchange and/or completion which must be met by all parties.

We would advise that you follow the below steps when seeking to purchase a property at auction:

1. Do Your Research

Whether you’re a seasoned auction-goer or a first-time buyer, you need to do your research before bidding at an auction. Research the type of auction, the fees (if any) that you will be required to pay in addition to the purchase price and any deadlines for exchange/completion. It’s also very important that you have received full advise as to the legal pack for the Property from your conveyancer before placing a bid.

2. Choose Conveyancing Solicitor

Your conveyancing solicitor will look through the legal pack. They will also complete the relevant conveyancing searches. This should happen before the auction. You can find fully verified and regulated conveyancing solicitors through our comparison form. Compare up to 6 quotes to help you get the best price for the job.

3. Get a Property Survey

It’s highly recommended to get your chosen property surveyed by an RICS Surveyor before the auction. The survey will identify structural issues and give a professional opinion on the property’s condition. This means you will know whether the property is worth purchasing.

You can opt for a Level 2 Homebuyers Survey or the more thorough Level 3 Building Survey. On average, a house survey costs between £290-£1,390. You will not get this money back if you choose to not make an offer on the property.

4. Make Financial Arrangements

If you are purchasing with cash, you must ensure that your funds are accessible in order to meet the auction deadlines should your bid be accepted. You'll have to provide your conveyancer with full source of funds evidence prior to the auction. Your conveyancer will be unable to accept your funds until this has been received and approved. If you're buying with a mortgage or loan, you'll need to check you can borrow the amount required.

You'll also need to make arrangements with your broker for the offer to be in place before the auction. You must also confirm with your conveyancer that the auction deadlines can be met as the completion of a mortgage and/or loan will involve additional legal work that could cause delays.

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    Auction and Solicitor Fees

    Your conveyancing fees will range depending on your chosen firm and the amount of notice given to your conveyancer in order to carry out the required work.

    The auction fees can vary from property to property and so it’s imperative that you review the contractual terms and conditions before proceeding to ensure that you have the funds in place for this additional cost.

    Do I Need a Mortgage to Buy an Auction Property?

    There are certain properties that are sold at auction that can be deemed unmortgageable. You should find out from your solicitor and mortgage lender whether the property meets the criteria for a mortgage loan.

    Read more about buying a house at auction with a mortgage.

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    Is Buying at Auction Legally Binding?

    The moment the hammer falls, a successful bid at an auction is legally binding. This means you must complete the purchase of the property usually within 14-28 days, including the immediate payment of the deposit and auction fees.

    Finding a Solicitor for Auction

    Compare My Move has a network of trusted conveyancers to help you find a solicitor for the auction conveyancing process. We can connect you with up to 6 licensed conveyancers, allowing you to compare quotes and save money on your conveyancing fees.

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    Leonie Rowe

    Reviewed by Leonie Rowe

    Associate and Licensed Conveyancer, Wolferstans Solicitors

    With almost 10 years of experience in the industry, Leonie Rowe is an Associate and Licensed Conveyancer at Wolferstans Solicitors

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