Viewing an auction property: What to look out for


Written by: Will Thompson on 5th October 2023

Property viewing2

Before bidding on a property at auction it is important to carry out due diligence, which means doing your own research, including reading the legal documents related to the property and whenever possible, viewing it in person.

For all the properties listed for auction on the Pugh website you will see that each lot has a summary description and a ‘legal documents’ tab. It is important to read this information to give yourself as much detail on the property as possible before the auction date and therefore assess the guide price and mark your own budget limit accordingly.

Likewise, viewing of properties can usually be arranged and it is recommended that you attend viewings in person yourself or send a trusted partner or representative to view the relevant property or properties. You are also completely free to bring along a surveyor or
builder to a property viewing to assist you in your assessment of the value of the property and the extent of any renovations that might be required.

But what should a surveyor, a builder or you yourself be looking for at a property viewing?

Generally when surveyors assess a property for a client they look into details such as:

  • Summary of property type and local facilities
  • Does the building match its energy efficiency rating?
  • How to improve the energy efficiency of the property
  • The external and internal elements of property
  • Damp assessment, plus structural and roof inspection
  • Assessment of services and grounds
  • Detail of construction materials and methods
  • Suggestions on repair of defects if necessary

Then they might also carry out environmental searches (coal, gas and flood risk), ground searches, drainage and water searches and raise any issues for solicitors to further examine. Some surveyors will give you an estimated value for the property on the open market which you can then compare with the guide price (which is what the property is expected to sell for at auction).

A builder will focus specifically on points such as the structural assessment, external and internal elements of property, the detail of the construction materials and methods and suggestions on repair of defects if necessary.

If you are planning to repurpose the use of the property for rental, commercial or your own residential usage you can work with your builder to assess the potential cost of any relevant repairs, renovations, refurbishments or conversions. You may also need to involve your solicitor to ensure you would have the right planning permission to do what you potentially plan to do with the property.

For your own purposes when you attend an auction (with or without a surveyor, builder or other advisor), come prepared with items such as a camera/phone, torch, tape measure, a notepad and a list of any questions you want to ask or details you wish to confirm. Inside the building look out for the condition of the fittings (particularly in the bathroom and kitchen), condition of the walls (including paint and wallpaper), the quality of the windows, doors and doorframes, any signs of damp, leakages or drafts, signs of uneven floors, plus any unusual odours.

Outside the building look at the condition of the paths, driveway, garden (and outbuildings such as sheds), fences, boundary walls, roof, gutters, drainpipes and the external walls.

These are non-extensive checklists and just a few pointers, so that’s why having a surveyor, builder or partner/advisor alongside you can always be helpful.

Also, having read the legal documents in advance of the viewing, check that everything matches up with the description and details of the property according to the paperwork and what you have seen in person. If you think not you should of course raise it with a member of our team for clarification

Will Will Thompson

Associate Director

About the Author

Will is an auction surveyor at Pugh & Co, representing a wide range of vendors, including local authorities, charities, and corporate and private clients, on the disposal of all types of property and land. Will can provide advice on the value and disposal strategies of residential, commercial, and industrial properties/portfolios, as well as sites with development potential. He holds an MSc in Real Estate and is a member of the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers.