My experience as a First Time Buyer

I have been at Clive Emson since I was 20 years old. So, with regards to selling property, all I’ve really known is auctions. I knew private treaty was the more ‘traditional’ way of selling a property but that was pretty much it.

In December 2021, I put in my first offer for a flat with a garage that I was looking to buy with a friend. A few others had put similar offers in for the flat (as seems to be the way at the moment) so the seller decided to invite best and final offers. To our great delight our offer was s accepted and so began my first private treaty experience.

The main difference I found was that, when buying at auction, all the legal information/details are made available before bidding as they are supplied by the Vendor’s Solicitor during the marketing campaign. While, with private treaty, much of the information is gathered by your solicitor after your offer has been accepted. For us, the buyers, there were a handful of hiccups along the way and I’m sure it was as stressful for the seller as it was for us. There were a couple of times when we told the agents we might, unfortunately, have to pull out.

For example, the agent was selling the property as a freehold flat which I thought was odd as this was a newly converted building of two flats and as many people will be aware it can be very hard to get a mortgage on freehold flats. We were buying with a mortgage so we told them there needs to be a leasehold tenure in place otherwise we could not proceed. After a couple weeks we got confirmation from the managing agent that the vendor’s solicitor was writing up the leases for the two flats in the building, with each flat having a share of the freehold. First problem sorted, although it took 2 weeks to get to that point.

We were also told we would be able to get a residential parking permit but after carrying out our own due diligence we found out that this street was specifically restricted and it would not be possible. We also hadn’t been able to see the garage that came with the flat, we were told it was large but as we had two large cars it was unlikely we would be able to fit both in. We spent near on a month trying to find a parking space, or a nearby garage to rent but this was unsuccessful.  So, we called the agents again and told them we might we need to pull out of the purchase as we couldn’t find anywhere to park. This call was made with the lingering thought at the back of our minds that by now we’re almost two months in and the solicitor charges are probably going to be sizeable. The agent called the vendor and the vendor moved everything out of the garage that day. We then went down early next morning, tried our cars in there and, to our disbelief, they fit, very snuggly but they fit nonetheless! After getting some measurements while we there we worked out we had roughly 250mm between our cars, the rear wall and the garage door. So very snug indeed!

In my 4 and a half years in auctions I’d like to think I know a fair bit about the auction process, and I have always thought it’s such a simple and easy way to buy and sell land and property. Buyers, of course, have the legal pack which they can look at before bidding to help eliminate any uncertainty. If there’s something in the legal pack you don’t like then it’s probably best not to bid.

As for the sellers, once you and the appraiser have agreed on a guide price and a reserve you can instruct your solicitor to put together the legal pack. We then, as Auctioneers, get details ready for our high-profile marketing campaigns. If all goes well and the lot reaches or exceeds its reserve the standard completion period is only 20 business days from exchange. On exchange the buyer is also required to puts down a 10% deposit. The exchange at Auction is the fall of the gavel or when the timer hits zero after the reserve is met or exceeded on our online platform.

I’m sure you’ll be pleased hear we did complete on our flat just over a month ago. However, that was about four months post offer, plus the vendor had someone pull out on the flat before us. Meaning the vendor waited almost 6 months from when they started marketing to when they received the sale proceeds, compared to the circa 7 weeks for an auction sale.

Often, when speaking to both buyers and sellers considering the auction route, they can find the idea daunting. From my experience of the private treaty market, and working in auctions, I would say that both methods have their advantages, and while buyers may still favour the private treaty route for some time to come auctions should not be overlooked Of course, not all properties are suitable for auction and private treaty may be the best option. However, if your property is suitable, it really is a simple and easy way of selling your asset. Auction is a very useful alternative to selling by private treaty, and we work hard to  compliment each method by  regularly working with our local estate agents throughout the UK.

Tom Lowe

Auction Appraiser