Frequently Asked Questions

Confused about the auction process?

If you are unable to find your exact question or answer below, then get in touch with a member of the auction team.

Buying a property auction has become increasingly popular. Auctions allow you to take advantage of a much more open and transparent buying process. On auction day you can see the other bidders in the room and have the reassurance that you will only pay one increment higher than the under bidder. No gazumping!

Property auctions can be daunting, however, so we have put together a list of some of the most commonly asked questions and answers below.


We are very lucky as we cover Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Devon and we have some of the most exciting and interesting properties that come to the market. We have auctioned all sorts of property including a waterfall, a beach, a hangar and airstrip, an island, beach huts, follies and even picnic spots with lakes and woodland. Our main lots are residential and commercial premises, building sites and investment opportunities.

The majority of our lots at auction are situated in the South and West of England but with such strong expertise in the firm, and eleven highly trained and experienced auctioneers, we would be happy to quote for any properties in the South of England or abroad.

A description of the lots including photographs can be downloaded from this website. You can also obtain a hard copy if required.

A 'Guide Price' gives an indication of the possible sale price or price range for a property at auction. The 'Guide Price' provided may change prior to an auction. Each property auctioned is typically offered subject to a 'Reserve Price', which is the lowest price for which a property can be sold at auction. The 'Reserve Price' may exceed the 'Guide Price' listed. If so, it is customary for the 'Reserve Price' to exceed the 'Guide Price' by no more than 10%.

Guide prices may however change during the pre-auction marketing period, but we do update them on this site each working day up to the last day before the auction. For the latest figure you can also call our main auction office on 01258 473766.

We can usually arrange for you to view and have group viewing times for most properties. All interior viewing appointments must be arranged through our auction offices. Please telephone the office dealing with the property.

If you require a mortgage or other form of loan to finance your purchase it would be prudent to obtain a mortgage offer prior to the auction. Most building societies and banks are familiar with auction procedures and normally issue offers quickly.

Sellers should instruct their solicitor to put together the legal pack as soon as possible.

Prospective purchasers can inspect copies of important legal documentation at our auction offices and sometimes this is available on line. It is prudent to get a solicitor to check the legal pack.

If you require a survey your surveyor should contact us to arrange for access. Your building society or bank may also send a surveyor to the property.

If you make a successful bid, on the sale day you must provide the auctioneers with a contractual deposit of 10% of the purchase price (minimum deposit 2,000). This is normally in the form of a bank or building society cheque or payment can be made using a debit card.

There are occasionally late amendments to the lots and we advise that you contact us right up to the day of the auction to ensure that there are no changes affecting your intended bid. Amendments will also be with the solicitors but we advise that in the first instance you get in touch with the main auction office on 01258 473766.

Changes, however, can occur on auction day and are either printed on an amendments sheet found as you enter the auction room but you should also talk to the auctioneer and listen for announcements. If your lot is amended on the day then a member of the auction team or legal representative will be there to help you.

The Addendum details are any revisions or additions to information contained in the catalogue or legal pack. Addenda are updated constantly and this is as important as these will form part of the Memorandum of Sale.

Occasionally lots are sold or withdrawn prior to the sale. Check with us on the working day before the sale to ensure your particular lot is still to be offered.

It is rare for lots to be offered in the same order as the catalogue. The order of sale is usually decided five days before the auction please get in touch with the auction office to get the full running order.

It is advisable to be at the auction from the start so you can listen to the auctioneers opening announcements.

Arrive as early as possible as we often hold our sales in town centres where parking can be restricted. Our advice is always to find the hall about one hour before the auction commences.

Our auctions can get very busy so the earlier you arrive, the more likely you are to get a seat.

When your lot is announced and the auctioneer invites bids, you need to make your interest known. Please be bold with your bidding and make sure that you can see the auctioneer, but it is far more important that he can see you. The auctioneer will give you every opportunity to consider your bid but if you are at all concerned that you have not been seen, confirm this out loud.

If you telephone the main auction office on 01258-473766, we can organise a telephone or proxy bid on your behalf. This should be arranged several days before the auction to give you time to send us the completed form and a cheque. Whether you choose a proxy or telephone bid, you must pre-register and you must discuss the matter with the auctioneer prior to the auction day so that we are clear of your requirements.

Contracts are exchanged as soon as the gavel has fallen. If you are the successful bidder a member of our auction team will come to you with a form requiring your contact details (and those of your company if bidding on its behalf), together with the details of your solicitor. You must also provide some ID (e.g. driving licence). You will then need to provide a 10% deposit. If you are unable to do this, the auctioneer has the right to re-offer the lot. If the property then sells for a lower figure the seller may claim any losses from you.

After the auction, you will go to see the person representing the vendor, sign the memorandum of sale and pay 10% of the purchase price. You will then be handed a copy of the memorandum signed by the seller or by us on behalf of the seller and you should then pass this to your own solicitor as soon as possible.

We will also ask you for your full name, address and date of birth to satisfy money laundering regulations. You should also bring with you confirmation of the source of your funds.

Each successful Buyer or Bidder will be liable to pay a Buyers Administration Fee as indicated in the Auction Catalogue, payable to Symonds & Sampson LLP. You will probably have to pay for the legal searches, please refer to the solicitor's legal pack.

Buying at auction

Auctions are a great way to buy property. But be warned – as soon as the hammer falls you’re locked into paying, so make sure you’re prepared for the costs

In the run up to an auction, we are inundated with enquiries from buyers. I usually end up with 800-900 emails sent or received for each sale, and one of the most frequently asked questions is what costs will be payable in addition to the 10% of the purchase price on the sale day?

Buyer’s Administration Fee

This can vary between auctioneers and is a charge payable by the purchaser on exchange of contracts as a payment separate to the deposit which is also payable at this time. This is usually a fixed amount – Symonds & Sampson’s at the time of writing is £1,000 + VAT and £750 plus VAT for purchases under £50,000. Please check the auction notes in the catalogue and the guide to buying at auction on our website.

Buyer’s Premium

It is rare for the buyer at a property auction to pay a buyer’s premium but it is becoming more common place especially where some larger organisations are selling. Fine art auctioneers often charge as much as 22% of the hammer price plus VAT, and buyers at our property auctions are relieved to learn that will not be the case with us! You should, however, always check the catalogue and special conditions of sale as a charge of 1-3% plus VAT may have been included. There may be a minimum fee, especially with online auctions.

Special Conditions of Sale

If nothing else, you should check this part of the legal pack as the terms and costs will be set down and it forms part of the contract for the sale of the lot. There may be important clauses and you should look out for:

  • VAT
    Some sellers will have made an “option to tax” land whereby VAT is payable in addition to the purchase price. This is invariably 20% and for the purposes of VAT, the term “land” includes any buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. Please take advice from an accountant on this issue.
  • Contribution to Vendor’s Legal Fees
    This is becoming more popular especially with solicitors outside our region. We have seen charges of £500-£2,000 plus VAT, but occasionally it is a percentage of the hammer price.
  • Local Authority Search Fees
    This is now a standard charge and is usually around £200-£350.
  • Overage/Uplift Clauses
    There may be a clause that allows the seller to claw back some of the profit that may be realised if planning permission is granted for further dwellings on the property. This will be a percentage of any gain and could last for 20-25 years.

Prospective buyers often ask me whether there is anything onerous in the legal pack. My simple advice is to read it, or even better get a lawyer to check it, so that you know exactly what you are buying and what extra costs will be involved.

You are usually responsible for the property from the date of exchange and it is therefore very important that you make arrangements to insure it immediately. If you do not have insurance in place, we can suggest firms who will be able to assist. Please check the legal pack.

A 'Guide Price' gives an indication of the possible sale price or price range for a property at auction. The 'Guide Price' provided may change prior to an auction. Each property auctioned is typically offered subject to a 'Reserve Price'.

Reserve Price is the seller’s minimum acceptable price at auction and the figure below which the auctioneer cannot sell. The reserve price is not disclosed and remains confidential between the seller and the auctioneer. Both the guide price and the reserve price can be subject to change up to and including the day of the auction.

The ‘Reserve Price’ may exceed the ‘Guide Price’ listed. If so, it is customary for the ‘Reserve Price’ to exceed the ‘Guide Price’ by no more than 10%.

You must speak to the auctioneer before you make a pre-auction offer. Vendors will often consider offers made before the auction day, but they should be made in writing via post, fax or email. Once this is received we can pass it on to the Vendor and will then contact you with her/her instruction. Please note however that you must be in a position to exchange and pay your deposit before the auction day.

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