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Things to prepare before auction day

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Auctions can be a great way to buy a home, but it’s not as simple as wandering in off the street, putting your hand up and walking away with the deeds to expensive property. And if you’re a seller, it’s also not as simple as simply putting up a sign up and hoping for the best.

Here are some key things you need to prepare for, for both sellers and buyers.

Things to prepare if you're selling at auction

1. Clean the place up

Clean the place up thoroughly, both before you advertise the property for sale and before the auction starts. There will likely be people checking the property out on the day of the sale, so having it in pristine condition could sway someone’s decision on bidding or not.

2. Advertise

Hardly anyone is going to just show up to an auction they never hear about. You have to let people know it’s on, well ahead of time. Your selling agent should plant some signs and boards on nearby streets to attract passers-by, while you can also invest in ad space both online (like Facebook or real estate websites) or in print.

3. Liaise with your agent

You should liaise with the selling agent a day or two before the auction - they’ll also show up about an hour or also before the auction is due to start to clear up the following things:

  • How many people will show up? (roughly)

  • What your reserve price is (the minimum you’re willing to sell it for)

  • What happens if that reserve price is not met

  • What the bidding increments will be

  • Whether you have any friends or family bidding at the auction (you shouldn’t)

A good agent should make sure everything goes smoothly on auction day.

4. Know your agent’s contract/commission

An agent will generally charge a commission as either a fixed price or as a percentage of the sale, and you should double-check this before the auction as it can be quite costly. For example, a 3.5% commission on a $600,000 property sale at auction would set you back $21,000.

Make sure there’s no ambiguity when it comes to your agent.

5. Set your reserve price

This is very important to get right. The reserve price is the price deemed to be the lowest acceptable by the seller for an item sold at auction. For a house sold at auction, your reserve price is the minimum you’re willing to sell it for.

Once the bidding starts, the auction has two possibilities:

  • The reserve price is not met, which means you are obliged to enter private negotiations with the highest bidder

  • The property will be declared “on the market”, and will go to the highest bidder

A good selling agent should help you formulate the right reserve price.

Things to prepare if you're buying at auction

It’s important to be sure you’re ready and willing to buy the house you’re bidding for because once you’ve been confirmed as the final bidder, that’s usually final.

1. Thoroughly research the property

Make sure you’ve fully researched both the property (i.e. by doing an inspection) and the surrounding area so you can understand the market you’re buying in. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can consult someone like a buyer’s agent who can do it for you.

As well as researching the property, you should get a professional building report done or ask for a copy of an existing one. These reports can identify any structural issues with the property and could let you know if you’re paying too much.

Get a free property report

As well as a building report, carry out or ask for:

  • Soil tests

  • Meth tests

  • Electrical reports and plumbing reports

You don’t want to be buying a property with some unpleasant surprises.

2. Research the surrounding area too

Don’t just look at the property itself - check out the neighborhood too. Walk or drive around and look at:

  • The surrounding houses;

  • Public transport options;

  • The noise levels;

  • Traffic volumes;

  • Schools, cafes and restaurants nearby;

And other things that might be important to you. What you find might change your mind.

3. Make sure you’re registered for the auction

Register for the auction with the selling agent to be given a bidder’s number - you usually can’t just stroll in and sit down. You’ll need to provide them with identification, like a driver’s license and a document issued by your bank.

4. Can you afford the property?

It’s important to know the property you’re bidding on is one you can afford, especially when it comes to the deposit. For a $500,000 home, you’d need a deposit of $100,000 to reach the 20% limit to avoid Lenders Mortgage Insurance or even to get approval from certain lenders. At loans.com.au, we have home loan products for buyers with a 10% deposit.

Don’t bid on a property that you aren’t 100% sure you can afford.

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5. Check the sale contract

You want to make sure you’ve sorted all the legal issues before the auction starts. Get a copy of the sale contract and show it to your lawyer or conveyancer for them to review, as they could identify any issues with the property you’re buying and whether you’re being ripped off or not.

6. Get pre-approval from a lender

Once that hammer goes down you’re legally required to go through with the purchase and put a deposit down - if the bank declines your request for a loan after your bid is successful, you could be out quite a bit of money.

That’s why you should get pre-approval from a trusted lender before the auction. Provided that your circumstances don’t change, you can have some guarantee that you'll be able to pay for it after. Speak to a loans.com.au lending specialist now to discuss your options or find out if you qualify for a home loan with us:

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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