Auction PropertyLearnings

Why Buying A Home At Auction Should Come With A Life Warning

What is the point in making a decision if you’re not going to stick with it?

That’s the question I am pondering today…as I find myself viewing this property:

auction property

I know you’re probably looking at this 1960s monstrosity and thinking: WTF? But, let me share with you: it’s a 4 bed detached, not been touched for years, on a premier street in a sought after area and has potential written all over it when you wear a pair of rose-tinted spectacles – oh and you can smell the money in the air.

But, you’re right – WTF am I doing?  Which is exactly how the conversation has gone with the other half when I told him we should buy it and move there.  In my defence, we have been thinking we should move for a while now – but this latest curve ball is…yet another curve ball.

So how have I got myself into this mess?

Personally, I blame it on my job.  Property auctions are wonderful – every day of the week properties which you never thought of buying – go under the hammer and open up a whole new world of “What if?” opportunities.

And this is the situation which I find myself in now: “What if?”

And that is a wonderful question to ponder.

So the “What if?” moment started in earnest earlier this year when I spotted a flat going to auction in Bloomsbury.  Never before had I felt such an earth-shattering, eye-opening, this-is-what-we-should-do-to-completely-change-our-lives-moment.  But it wasn’t to be.  We got outbid and in the months since (even with the assistance of some great estate agents) could not find a place we liked as much as the one we had tried to buy.

Stress?  Fuck me, I learned the meaning of stress trying to buy a flat in London with an estate agent.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I can tell you the house-hunt caused more than its fair share of blazing arguments.  It got decided that “now” was not the time to buy.

And so I have tried to settle, I have tried to put house-hunting to the back of my mind.

I may have slipped a little when I went to see a mill for sale just down the road from me…but I managed to pull it back and see sense before auction day.  I admit, I may have also sneaked in a few meetings with estate agents…but other than the odd viewing I have been good.

But the thing with auctions is that they throw up gems.  They present possibilities and opportunities which you wouldn’t find with an estate agent.  And they throw up all these “What if?” moments which you need to act quickly on if you don’t want to miss out – and it is this, which I have realised is the problem with property auctions.  It’s the now or never mentality.  And that’s both the upside and downside of buying at auction.

If you want a new life – buying at auction means you can get it in just a few short weeks.  As long as you’re the winning bidder, there’s no faff and no fuss, you just stick your hand in the air, buy the property you want and then 28 days later it’s yours.  There’s no messing.  There’s no changing of minds – it’s yours.  And that certainty is satisfying.  But it’s a certainty which can be unsettling when you’re not really certain about what you’re doing.

If I go to auction and win this property I know that in 28 days it will be mine and I get to start living the “What if?” moment of my mind in reality.

But what if I don’t know if I really want the “What if?”

Buying at auction forces you to make decisions quickly.  It throws up a whole heap of questions that need answers before you even know what many of the questions are.  And when it comes to buying a home at auction, as opposed to a property, those questions are far bigger than what you at first realised.

Buying a home at auction, even just thinking of buying a home at auction, obliges you to think about big life-changing and often un-thought of stuff which gets shoved in your face and shouts at you to think about it NOW – and make a decision NOW.

And that is tough.

Viewing a property doesn’t just mean viewing a property, it means re-viewing your life.  It means assessing, and re-assessing what you are doing and what you are trying to do.  A home is not just somewhere to live, it is the place-mat of your dreams, aims and ambitions all rolled up into the bricks and mortar of your life.

It’s like asking yourself: “What do I want to do when I grow up?”

And I just don’t have the answer yet.

So I think I’m going to leave this purchase.  I’m going to leave this to someone else who actually knows what they want to do when they grow up.

  1. Alex James

    Some really good points here! I mean the “ideal” way for this to happen is you have the cash/pre-approved mortgage and then go looking for a property, then find one that you love. However compared to the conventional buying method, the auction process can be really stressful for all parties, forcing you to make life decisions and major financial decisions in a short space of time. However, on the other hand auctions can also be a gold mine! Some people have found their dream homes in auctions, where other people investors for example have purchased many bargains to simply rent out. (at least they don’t have to “like” the property themselves lol)

    1. Sam

      Thanks Alex – but sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it – and then you have to think again: is this really what I want, or do I want something else?

      This property may not look like much, but it was the life review which got me…

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