Want to buy a property at auction?
Then you’re in the right place.
Because today I’m going to show you the exact Auction Buying techniques that I use to build my property portfolio.
The best part?
All of these proven strategies are working GREAT in 2019.
11 Rules for Buying at Auction in Queensland
- 1. Always be Questioning
- 2. Follow your Auction Buying checklist
- 3. Have your finance sorted
- 4. Understand the auction mindset
- 5. Know the property’s value
- 6. Don’t tell the agent much
- 7. Have your support team ready
- 8. Know your competition
- 9. Take it slow when bidding
- 10. Keep your price to yourself
- 11. Be prepared to walk away
- Bonus #1: Get insurance right away
- Bonus #2: Submitting an offer before auction [with template]
- Bonus #3: Auction Terms to be familiar with
- Bonus #4: Fast Tips for Buying at Auction
- Next Steps in buying at an Auction
And we answer these questions
- ✅ Can first time buyers buy at auction?
- ✅ How do you buy a house at auction?
- ✅ Should I use the building & pest report supplied by the real estate agent?
- ✅ How do you bid on real estate auctions?
- ✅ What are the risks of buying at auction?
- ✅ Is there a cooling off period when buying a house at auction?
- ✅ How do you bid on a house at auction?
- ✅ How do you win at auction?
- ✅ How to make an offer on a property before the auction?
What are property auctions?
An auction is a public sale, where potential buyers submit bids in order to buy a property which is sold to the highest bidder. Auctions are common in a competitive property market because it is seen to increase the competitiveness of a sale by getting all the serious buyers in one place and seen to sell the property faster than with a private sale. At an auction you do not get a cooling-off period, so a sold property at auction is final.
1. Always be Questioning
Where the majority of Real Estate Agents in Australia might use the philosophy of “Always Be Selling”, as an educated buyer you need to be using the philosophy of “Always Be Questioning” when buying a property and especially when buying at auction.
As harsh as this sounds, it’s good practice to always assume the Real Estate Agents are lying to you. And more importantly, its critical for you to maintain your independence when it comes to getting reports and researching facts about the property.
Should I use the building & pest report supplied by the real estate agent?
While these Building & Pest Reports are generally completed by third parties, it was completed under the instruction of the Real Estate Agent who is employed by the seller to sell the property. The Real Estate Agent isn’t there to work for you, so it’s important to be wary of this fact.
You want to maintain your independence and get your own Building & Pest Inspector to do your own report. While it might cost you an extra $500-600 it could save your tens of thousands over the long term.
2. Follow your Auction Buying Checklist
You need to assume you will be successful, remember if you are the highest bidder at the fall of the hammer the property is yours – you do not get any finance clauses, cooling off period or chances to double check the property’s structure.
At auction, if you win it, you buy it so it’s critical to be prepared for all eventualities on the day by following our Auction Buying Checklist which you want to have completed before the day of the auction.
Auction Buying Checklist:
- ✅ Complete Inspection Checklist
- ✅ Arrange Building & Pest Inspection
- ✅ Arrange Home Loan Approval
- ✅ Get a property valuation
- ✅ Complete market research
- ✅ Understand Auction Results in your area
- ✅ Decide on your highest & final price
- ✅ Obtain a copy of the contract of sale
- ✅ Get Legal Advice about the Terms & Conditions of contract
- ✅ Arrange title search & other checks with Conveyancer (title search, encumbrances)
- ✅ Confirm with the Real Estate Agent how much deposit is required, and how to pay.
If you win at auction you will need to pay a deposit, this can be a percentage of the winning bid (for example, 5% of $500,000 purchase price or $25,000) which you will need to pay on the day.
You will need to ask the Real Estate Agent prior to the auction how you can pay this and if they will accept a personal cheque, bank cheque, deposit bond or electronic transfer.
3. Have your finance sorted
If you are buying at auction you need to have your finance approved and ready to go because buying a home at auction is final, and you cannot pull out once the hammer is dropped. There is no cooling off period, no finance clauses, no building and pest.
For this reason, you want to work with a good mortgage broker prior to the auction who can help with sourcing finance, applying for a pre-approval and completing the bank’s paperwork. At the end of the day, there are lots of lenders out there, all with different pre-approval policies so a broker like Hunter Galloway can look at 30 different banks and lenders to find the right one that fits with you.
In most cases a pre-approval is just an indication that the bank is ok to consider approving your loan, the bank may just complete a credit check and not check any of or your documents and wait until you lodge a full mortgage application to do this.
With some banks, a full mortgage application is only done when you have signed the contract on a purchase property – which is not possible when going to auction. Lenders like this will only verify your payslips, bank statements and income information when they receive this contract of sale, putting you at risk when going to auction because you can’t be 100% sure they can lend you the money.
At Hunter Galloway we work with several lenders who fully verify your documents before issuing a pre-approval, this makes a much more reliable approval with fewer conditions when you are buying at auction.
What are some common pre-approval conditions?
In most cases, a pre-approval has conditions that need to be completed before the loan can be unconditionally approved. This is quite common and these range from generic conditions like subject to a bank valuation to specific conditions like getting a letter from your employer confirming your start date.
A few common pre-approval conditions include:
- Our validation of all details provided to ensure they are true and correct.
- Our receipt of all necessary supporting documentation
- Satisfactory valuation for the proposed security property(s).
- Lender’s Mortgage Insurance approval, if required.
- No significant change in the customer’s financial position.
Questions to ask about your Home Loan
Aside from understanding, you have a reliable pre-approval, it’s important to know what your Auction budget should be, what the repayments are going to look like after you’ve bought the property and how much deposit you need.
Some questions to ask your Mortgage Broker include:
- What is my maximum home loan?
- What will be the repayments?
- What is the loan term?
- What is the interest rate?
- What is the minimum deposit required?
Some additional questions to ask your mortgage broker about their background to make sure they are the right broker for your personal situation:
- How many years experience do you have?
- How do you help homeowners at auction, do you have any recent examples?
- How can you help me after I buy this home?
- Who owns your aggregator and are there any conflicts of interest?
- What qualifications and accreditations do you have?
Auction Home Loan Checklist
Before the auction, you want to work through this Home Loan Checklist to make sure your loan has been sorted, and you are ready to buy come auction day!
- Collate Home Loan Documents
- Personal Identification: Passport, Drivers License and Medicare Card
- Income Details: 2 x Most Recent Payslips, Group Certificate, and possibly Income Tax Return
- Assets & Liabilities: Last Months Day to Day Bank Statement, 3 Months bank statement to show savings
- Meet with a Mortgage Broker to discuss your lending Requirements
- Apply for a Pre-Approval from a reliable lender
- Go shopping!
4. Understand the auction mindset
Real Estate Agents put property’s to auction for 2 primary reasons. The first is to try to sell the property as quick as possible. A property for sale at auction has just been listed on the market, and a typical auction campaign involves 3 weeks of heavy campaigning with the auction taking place in the 4th week.
The second reason a Real Estate Agent puts a property to auction is to try to flush out buyers by putting that 4-week deadline on the property, and create a sense of competition to increase the sale price of the property.
Auctions are very common in rising property markets, where there is increased competition and situations where there are multiple buyers for the one property.
For this reason, it is critical that at an auction you set a budget beforehand and stick with it. If you are a success at auction and win, you will have the settle the contract even if you can’t afford it.
If the property fails to meet the reserve price it is passed in, which means it won’t be sold at auction.
The good news is if you were the highest bidder at auction you have the first opportunity to negotiate with the seller.
How do you buy a house at auction?
In Queensland to be eligible to buy at auction, you need to be a registered bidder. In order to register you need to provide the selling real estate agent with a copy of your Australian Drivers License around 10-15 minutes before the auction is set to take place. In some other states like Victoria and Western Australia, there is no requirement for you to make yourself known to the auctioneer before sticking your hand in the air!
The real estate agent will give you a unique bidders number (a paddle with a number at the top), which you can hold up during the auction to make an offer to buy the property.
If the property meets the reserve price, and you are the highest bidder at the fall of the auctioneer’s hammer then you have now bought a property!
Can first home buyers buy at auction?
First Home Buyers can buy at auction, and it can present good buying opportunities because most first home buyers are scared to buy at auction given it can be quite daunting.
You can try to negotiate with the real estate agent before the auction to secure the home, but failing that you should have your finance in place to be able to buy at auction.
Remember, real estate agents can sometimes try to undervalue a property when bringing it to auction to draw a large crowd of buyers so before the auction, work out your maximum value that you will walk away from the property… but more on this in a minute.
Is there a cooling off period?
When buying at auction there is no cooling-off period, meaning if you buy the property it is final and you cannot get out of it. The cooling-off period also does not apply if you sign a contract on the property within 2 days of an unsuccessful auction of that property, or after being a registered bidder on the auction. So be careful, if you are unsuccessful at auction but end up signing a contract of sale after you may have waived your cooling off period!
Auction terms to be familiar with:
- Reserve Price: This is the lowest price that the seller will accept at auction. The seller sets the reserve price with the auctioneer before the auction in writing, and while the Real Estate Agent or Auctioneer isn’t allowed to tell you the reserve price they can say during the auction if the Reserve Price has been met.
- The Successful Bidder: The successful bidder is the person who meets the property’s reserve price and wins at auction. If you are the successful bidder you need to sign the contract immediately, which is legally binding and there are serious legal consequences if you cannot settle the property on time including the full price of the property, the cost of re-auctioning the property and any shortfall on your office and the winning bid at the next auction.
- Vendor Bids: During auctions in Queensland an auctioneer can accept a seller (or vendor) bid to increase the current bid all the way up to the reserve price. Prior to the current bid reaching the reserve price, the auctioneer can bid on behalf of the seller, or accept bids from the seller (or their representing real estate agent). This is a way to keep the auction moving, and increase the bid closer to the Reserve Price – if you hear a Vendor Bid you know the Reserve Price has not been reached yet.
- Dummy Bids: A Dummy Bid is a way to increase the bidding during an auction by the seller, a family member or friend, or any other individual that isn’t a serious buyer. In Queensland, and across Australia dummy bids are illegal and should be reported as they artificially inflate the price of the property at auction.
5. Know the property’s value
Information is power in Real Estate, and spending the time to research a property’s value will help you determine the maximum amount you should pay when buying at auction (and save you from overpaying)!
According to the Queensland Government, It’s illegal for a seller or their agent to give you a price guide for an auction property. This is because they cannot know how high the bidding will go. A property may appear on a listing website when you search by price. This is only for the purposes of the web search and is not designed as a price guide.
In other words, just because this home has appeared in the Real Estate, or Domain filter for homes selling for between $450,000 to $500,000 doesn’t mean it will sell for a maximum of $500,000.
We’ve put together the ultimate Property Research Checklist to (1) Research your Suburb & Surrounding Area, (2) Determine Potential Weekly Rental and (3) Calculate the Property’s Value. At this point, it could be worth obtaining a Bank Valuation prior to the auction, which Hunter Galloway can assist with arranging.
Property Research Checklist:
- Research your Suburb & Surrounding area
- Research Rental Income per week
- Calculate Rental Income
- Research Recent Property Sales
- Determine the Property’s Value
- Confirm Value with a free RP Data Valuation
- Order a Bank Valuation with Hunter Galloway
6. Don’t tell the agent much
Remember a good real estate agent will work hard for the seller to get the best price so they aren’t working for you as the buyer, and most agents are paid commission to sell the property. You need to put your best foot forward, and by asking the right questions you can quickly identify potential issues on the property, get a better idea on the value of the property and the seller’s motivations and make an offer that will put you way ahead of your competition.
- Why are the vendors (sellers) selling the property?
- How long has the property been for sale?
- Are the sellers willing to take offers before the auction?
- Have any other offers been received?
- Have any of these offers been refused?
- Have the owners bought another property?
Regardless of whether you feel comfortable with the real estate agent, the important thing is to tell them almost nothing.
Just ask lots of questions, and don’t give them information that they can use to get more money from you – they may ask how much you have been pre-approved for, the amount you have for your deposit, or if you currently own a property.
Stay strong and answer any of their questions by saying you have finance approved and a good deposit in place.
7. Have your support team ready
Buying a home is expensive, it will typically cost you at least $500-600 in reports before you get to an auction and be in a position to bid. Some home buyers will try to save a few hundred dollars by skipping building & pest reports, or checking contract with solicitors and can literally risk thousands of dollars. Don’t let this happen to you.
If you have found the right home, and it’s being sold at auction you need to consult a lawyer (or solicitor) before you sign anything. At the end of the day, the home will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lawyer could cost a few hundred and will provide you priceless independent advice to double check the contract and make sure there aren’t any odd terms and conditions in there
The same goes for your mortgage broker. You want to make sure you have a reliable pre-approval in place that fits with the maximum amount you will bid at auction. It’s also important that you have the right type of home loan that fits in with your goals both today and tomorrow.
When you meet with your mortgage broker make sure you discuss the specific property that is going to auction, some banks have issues when properties have non-standard features like when the floor area is under 50 square metres, and others have restrictions on certain suburbs and postcodes. If you have discussed the property with the broker before the auction, and even ordered a valuation you can be sure you are sitting in a strong financial position come auction day!
As a broad rule of thumb, make sure you double check with your Mortgage Broker before buying any property that fits in these criteria:
- Smaller than 50 square meters inside
- Land size over 2 hectares
- Doesn’t have standard title and zoning
- Not in a major town or city
- Includes incentives like furniture packages, or rental guarantees
- Is run down, or in disrepair and needs lots of work to fix up
Buyers Agents are Real Estate Agents that represent you as a buyer, and they are becoming increasingly common these days. Buyers Agents can help with sourcing, researching and even bidding on your behalf at auction. If you are nervous about bidding, living interstate or need some help with detailed analysis on the property a Buyers Agent could be a good option to consider. They generally charge a fixed percentage fee on the purchase price, and this can range from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the property’s value.
And finally, Building & Pest reports are what I would consider a mandatory cost when buying a home. These reports look at the building (structural soundness) and pest – to check you aren’t flatting with termites or white ants. A typical building inspection for a 4 bedroom home can cost around $500-600 but can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars – They have personally saved me over 5 times from buying property’s that had lots and lots of issues!
If you need a help with a Lawyer, Building & Pest Inspector or Buyers Agent get in touch and we would be happy to recommend someone.
Home Buying Team Checklist:
- Have you found a Mortgage Broker, and have they provided you with an RP Data Valuation & Home Loan pre-approval?
- Have you found a Lawyer, and have they checked your contract of sale?
- Have you found a Building & Pest Inspector, and have they completed and walked you through their report?
- Do you need the help of a Buyers Agent, and will they help bid on your behalf at the auction?
8. Know your competition
On the day of the auction, arrive early. Firstly get comfortable with the setting to help allay your pre-auction nerves, but secondly, use this as an opportunity to get a lay of the land and see who else is going to be bidding at auction. You can usually see if there are any other serious bidders as they will be with the real estate agent inspecting the contract of sale or registering as a bidder. Otherwise, there could be lots of people gathered around who are just onlookers (good news for you)!
In a strong property market like Brisbane where auctions are becoming increasingly common use the psychological advantage of projecting your own confidence and make other potential buyers think you have deep pockets with no limits.
9. Take it slow when bidding
When bidding, say the full number rather than the increase. For example, say “Four hundred and fifty-seven thousand dollars” instead of waiving your hand and saying “seven” (i.e. indicating that you’re raising the current bid by $7,000).
When you say it, be confident and make sure everyone hears it. It reminds people how much their paying for the property and can turn off other bidders if they’re close to their budget.
Try not to bid until the property is announced to be on the market, or until there has been a vendor (sellers) bid moving the price closer to reserve. By doing this it might take a bit of momentum out of the auction.
If there are no genuine bids and it looks like the auctioneer will pass the property in, make sure you bid as it gives you the exclusive opportunity to negotiate with the Vendor after the auction. At a minimum, put in a low-ball offer to secure this right.
10. Keep your price to yourself
Always set a budget and stick to it, and never tell the Real Estate Agent.
From experience, slightly higher and uneven numbers can make really good budgets (and give you a competitive advantage)!
For example, say you think a property is worth $450,000 – and a few other people, including your competition, could have also set this number as their budget. If you set your budget at $457,500 it could be enough to put you slightly ahead and win the property at auction!
Auctions are a pretty foreign experience for most of us and can be quite scary. If you’re emotionally connected with the property or not a confident bidder, get a friend or family member to bid for you. Even better, you can use the services of a reputable buyers agent to bid for you as they have plenty of experience (we can recommend a Buyers Agent if you need).
Property Expert John McGrath recommends controlling the momentum of the auction to your advantage saying, “Sometimes it’s advantageous to slow an auction down and ask the agent to accept smaller increased bids. Other times its better to make higher, more confident bids to ‘scare’ other purchasers and kill any momentum. Only experience can tell you what to do here but the point is – there’s no hard and fast rule.”
Lastly make sure you stand in a good position where the agent can see you clearly, and where you can spot all the other bidders in the crowd. Try as much as possible to look confident and relaxed (which is more often easier said than done) – and in the blink of an eye you’ll be hearing “going, going, sold”!
How do you win at auction?
- Set your budget and stick to it.
- Stand in a good position where auctioneer can see you
- Use slightly uneven numbers for your bidding (e.g. raising by $7,000 to $437,000).
- Consider getting a friend or Buyers Agent to bid for you at auction if you’re nervous.
- Control the momentum of the auction.
- Look confident & relaxed.
- Stick with your walk away price.
11. Be prepared to walk away
As Benjamin Franklin said, by preparing to fail you are preparing to fail.
Although it might take you weeks and weeks to prepare for an auction the reality is that the auction itself will be over in a matter of minutes. You still need to spend time preparing your figures, spending money on reports and hope for the best that you are going to win – but also be prepared to miss out if the price goes outside of your budget.
Ultimately you need to stick with your walk-away price, after all, you’ve done your homework and you know what that particular property is worth to you.
If you miss out on a particular auction, you need to accept that it wasn’t to be and realise that is always another house. The sooner you move on from it, the faster you will find something better and while it’s not nice to think of yourself as a loser in the auction it’s much better to walk away to find a better home, then over-commit to a property that you’ve become emotionally blinded by.
As the saying goes in Real Estate, ‘The Money is Made when you Buy, Not When You Sell’ in other words, the price you pay for the property is the main factor to determine how much profit you make later on.
Bonus: Get insurance right away
A lot of people aren’t aware but it’s really important that you arrange Building Insurance (also called Home & Contents Insurance) as soon as you purchase a property – that is from the date you sign the Contract of Sale! And on an auction, this means from the date you have bought at auction!
There are a few reasons to get insurance right away including the fact that the seller’s insurance policy may no longer be valid that the property has been sold, or the seller may not have insurance and also in Queensland it is common for the Contract of Sale to specific insurance is the purchaser’s responsibility.
So in Queensland, you need to get insurance from 5 pm the next business day after signing a contract of sale (unless it’s a strata apartment in which case the Owners Corporation might have insured the building). Not having home insurance is very risky, as it covers you for any loss or damage to the building.
Your bank or lender will want proof the property has insurance on it, so it’s best to get it right away because you are going to need it eventually.
Bonus: Submitting an offer before auction [with template]
In some cases even though a property is going to auction, the seller may be willing to take offers before to sell it even quicker. It could be worth looking at submitting an offer before the auction to secure it before auction day.
This is the same process you would follow when normally making an offer on a property and the advantage is that in Queensland you can submit an offer on the property that is subject to finance and building & pest.
- 1. Submit an offer in writing to Real Estate Agent
- Use our Offer to Purchase Template
- Include the following details on your offer: Purchase Price, Deposit, Finance (days to complete), Building & Pest (days to complete), Settlement (days from the contract), Other conditions
- 2. Negotiate over email or in writing
- The Real Estate agent needs to present all offers in writing to the sellers, so it doesn’t matter how silly you think your offer might be it is still worth putting it in writing and getting it in front of the sellers.
- 3. Sign the contract of sale
- If your offer has been accepted the Real Estate Agent will complete the contract of sale (with your offer details) for you to sign. You can get your solicitor to review this if you would like.
- 4. Get your finance approved
Bonus: Fast tips for buying at auction
Follow these fast tips, and BONUS recap when buying at auction
- If you are not purchasing a property in your own name, make sure you prepare and organise the purchasing entity – such as a self-managed super fund (SMSF), trust, etc.
- Be aware of how much you will be spending on the purchase. Apply for a loan and get a preapproval for the finance required before. This will allow you to be well prepared when buying at an auction.
- To get a better idea of how the entire transaction takes place, attend as many auctions as you can. This will enable you to observe different strategies used for bidding and get a good idea of the overall environment.
- Carry out thorough research. Visit different properties and inspect them thoroughly. This will enable you to understand the dynamics behind every sale. It gives you a better understanding of the overall market and puts you in a better position to bargain the price you have in mind based on your knowledge and experience.
Read More: Follow your Buying at Auction Checklist
- When buying at an auction, it’s very important to play your cards right. Real estate agents are very smart in getting the information out of you, including the price you are willing to pay. If you are not careful, you might end up revealing information that may affect your bargaining power.
- Get legal services and hire a solicitor. Show him or her your agreement and seek advice. Make changes in the contract as suggested.
- Go to the auction as early as possible and do a little survey of the playing field. Observe who else is there for bidding. Not everyone in an auction is a bidder; you will also find the onlookers who attend the auctions for other reasons. The serious bidders will always be inspecting the agreement and saying all the right things, which will make it easier for you to differentiate between the two.
- You have to play smart. In today’s auction environment, you have to use psychological tactics. Give the impression of being a confident bidder. However, make sure you don’t overdo and stop where you have to.
Read More: Know your competition at auction
Come up with the Strategy
- Always start with the highest price and close as close to the reserve as possible – a price below which the property is not sold. Be firm in your bidding and show assertive attitude; showing laziness gives a sign of weakness.
- Whenever you call out your bid, mention the full price. For instance, instead of calling out the increment of $8,000, simply say $68,000.
Read More: 11 Rules for Buying at Auction
Prepare Yourself to Miss Out
- Just because you are at an auction, doesn’t mean you have to place the highest bid. Prepare yourself to miss out and do it strategically. Set a walk-away price and stick to it. Buying at an auction requires a little homework; don’t jump into the market until you are ready. Going to different auctions will help you understand the market dynamics. You will learn how prices are determined and which property is worth the price you have in mind. Once you are ready to buy a property and well-prepared to play your cards right, you won’t get disappointed even if you do lose. This is because you know the right price of the property and are ready to win your battle the next time
- Due to the lack of experience in buying at an auction, many people hire the services of an experienced agent who do the bidding on your behalf. You can also do the same and hire them. They have years of experience in the market and know how level the playing field and secure the best bid price.
Next steps and settling your new home
Our team here at Hunter Galloway is here to help you buy a home in Brisbane. Nathan & Joshua Vecchio are Senior Mortgage brokers who specialise in making your home journey easy.
Unlike other mortgage brokers who are just one person operators, we have an entire team of experts to help make your home loan journey as simple as possible.
If you want to get started, please get in touch here and we can book a time that suits you – either a phone call information session or a face to face meeting (which doesn’t cost anything for you).
Further reading for Home Buyers…
- For our comprehensive guide for First Home Buyers, check out this page here.
- Looking at getting a loan, check out our Complete First Home Buyers guide.
- And don’t forget the costs of buying which we covered in detail here.