What is a Property Auction Legal Pack?
A property auction legal pack (sometimes called an ‘auction pack’) is a compilation of documents that provides essential information about the property being auctioned. The pack allows prospective bidders to carry out due diligence on the property before bidding.
What documents should be included in an auction pack?
The contents of auction legal packs can vary to some degree, but they should contain the following legal documents:
- Official copy of the title register - Confirming the seller's ownership of the property and any rights or restrictions.
- The title plan - Depicting the buildings and registered land.
- Conveyancing searches - including local authority, drainage and water, mining, chancel and environmental searches.
- Planning permission documentation - including past or current planning permissions or building regulation consents.
- Property information form (TA6) - information about the property including insurance, rights and informal arrangements, notices, proposals, disputes and any complaints from neighbours.
- Fixtures and contents form (TA10) - listing all fittings and contents included in the sale.
- Special conditions of sale - Specific terms or conditions the buyer must adhere if they win the auction.
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - rating the property's energy efficiency and typical energy costs
- Tenancy agreements
- Other relevant information - such as details on past building work, guarantees for recent work.
If the property is leasehold, the pack should also include:
- Leasehold Information form (TA7) - providing details about the leasehold nature of a property, including service charges, ground rent, and other relevant leasehold obligations and information.
- Management Information Pack - sometimes called a ‘Leasehold Information Pack, this includes the lease, details about the ground rent, service charges, planned major works and information about the property's management.
Who prepares the Property Auction Legal Pack?
The auction pack is prepared by the seller's solicitor or conveyancer. Auction houses are likely to recommend a solicitor to produce the pack. Many sellers at auction prefer to instruct their own solicitor to produce the auction pack as they:
- prefer to work with an independent solicitor
- have an existing relationship with a solicitor
- intend to use the same solicitor to handle the conveyancing, which can make the process more efficient.
How long before the auction, are packs made available?
Auction packs are typically made available a few weeks before the auction, either online or upon request from the auction house.
What if some documents are missing from the pack?
Packs are often compiled incrementally, with some documents added shortly before the auction date. Sometimes, packs may have documents missing, even on the auction day.
Leasehold management information, in particular, can be time-consuming to obtain.
Bidding at auction without thoroughly reviewing all the legal documents is very risky as potentially costly, or even unfixable complications might arise.
When reviewing the auction pack, your solicitor can help you obtain any documents or searches on the property you're interested in, should the auction pack not cover everything you need.
Will I have to pay for an auction pack?
No, the seller pays a solicitor to compile the auction pack.
As a buyer, you will not normally be expected to pay the auction house for a copy of the auction pack. If you win the auction, however, you will typically have to pay the seller for the property searches, which you would normally pay for when buying a property.
What's are the risks of not reviewing an auction pack?
Properties are often sold at auction when they are considered too difficult to sell in a more conventional way, such as through an estate agent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with the property, it may just be a more complex proposition - such as a listed building.
It is not uncommon, however, for properties sold at auction to have serious legal defects or other problems.
- Short leases
- Sitting tenants
- Defective legal titles (e.g. no legal right of access)
- Unregistered properties
- Restrictive covenants
- Unmortgageable properties
- Title is not absolute
- Missing planning and building consents
An auction legal pack review from a conveyancing solicitor will identify any potential legal issue before you bid, and recommend the best course of action.
Do I need a solicitor to review the pack?
If you have the legal expertise to review the technical legal documentation contained in an auction pack, you could review the pack yourself.
Solicitors are trained to spot critical legal nuances that can easily go unnoticed. Sometimes it is as much about what's not included in a pack as what is. Solicitors are trained in the technical concepts of these documents, helping them uncover hidden clauses or obligations.
Buying at auction is not for the unwary. By identifying potential pitfalls, a solicitor can save you from unforeseen expenses or headaches down the road. Reviewing the pack on your own might seem cost-effective, a solicitor's assistance can prevent costly mistakes, offering you both clarity and peace of mind.
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Why would I spend money when I don't know I will win the auction?
With a standard conveyancing transaction, buyers can carry out their due diligence on a property after an offer has been accepted. If they discover a serious issue with the property, they can renegotiate, or pull out before contracts are exchanged.
With an auction, however, you exchange contracts as soon as your winning bid is accepted. This means that if you subsequently find that you are buying a property with serious legal defects, you must still complete on the property. If you don't, you'll lose your deposit (normally 10% of the sale price) and you could be sued.
With no option but to complete, you might then find that the property is no longer mortgageable after the legal issues are discovered.
Without Auction Legal Pack Review, you are bidding blind. A review offers low-cost peace of mind, helping you make an informed bid, so you'll know:
- what you are actually bidding on
- how much you want to bid
- whether you want to bid at all
Get a quote for an Auction Legal Pack Review
Our panel of specialist CQS-accredited conveyancing solicitors can provide a quick turnaround Auction Legal Pack Review that will ensure you're fully informed of potential risks and obligations before bidding, safeguarding you from potentially costly legal complications.
- Review all legal documents in the pack
- Identify and, where possible, obtain missing documents
- Provide a detailed written report on the status of the property and any potential risks
Contact us now, if you have any questions about getting Auction Legal Pack Review, or you have any other questions about the legal side of buying or selling at a property auction.
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.