Small Woodland Owners' Group

Pre-Auction To Do List

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Pre-Auction To Do List

Postby sweeperliam » Fri May 29, 2015 10:25 am

Buying from Woodlands or Woods4Sale seems pretty straight forward and is a simplified version of buying a house from what I've read, but what about buying at auction? Apart from my own research, looking at the auction brochure, Googling planning in the area, Google maps and the DEFRA Magic Map, what do I need to ask a solicitor to do before the auction and what are the likely costs involved? I don't want to pay a solicitor hundreds for the lot to go over my budget at the auction.

Any advice or has anyone had experience of this?

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Re: Pre-Auction To Do List

Postby Wendelspanswick » Fri May 29, 2015 9:27 pm

We used a solicitor when we bought our land in a sealed bid, he checked for any covenants that affected our land (there were a few) and any access rights, local plans, who owned the mineral rights (we do), Chancel Repair charges (none) amongst other things. He wasn't cheap but he was very thorough and gave us peace of mind.
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Re: Pre-Auction To Do List

Postby oldclaypaws » Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:49 am

We bought at auction. All auction lots have a legal pack ready before hand which will include all the known stuff like covenants, rights of way, boundary liabilities, etc. You shouldn't need a solicitor to understand the legal pack and won't need to pay out before the auction for anything, solicitors are just used for formally completing the process, not consulting. Not everybody uses them but if you do you know its all done correctly. If serious have one lined up and ask for a rough quote to complete a land purchase. Ours cost a few hundred. The main considerations before an auction are to have the money in place and set yourself a limit. If needs be get the opinion of a forestry consultant, but its really up to you and how you see yourself using the wood as to whether its the right one. Visit the lot as many times as possible and don't bid unless 100% sure its the right wood for you. Most auction estimates are way below what the lot sells for, in the case of woods often half. We paid nearly 4 times the estimate which was absurdly low. You have to pay 10% deposit of the hammer price if the successful bidder immediately after the auction and sign the contract to complete in 28 days. There was also a small fee of £400 to be paid to the auctioneer, but unlike most auctions for 'goods' there is no auction % premium paid by the buyer. At least floor auctions are transparent, you see the other bidders. Plenty of woods consigned to auction are sold beforehand. The auctioneers often take offers before the auction date (to be sold on xxx date unless sold before) and are obliged to relay them to the seller, who may hold out until the auction, consider best sealed bids by a certain pre auction date, or accept an offer. The sealed bidding process is not transparent and the winners could pay well over what the 'underbidder' was prepared to pay. Be warned, most people at auction or submitting sealed bids for popular properties lose out. I've known sealed bids by 14 different parties and about 6 or more people bid against me at auction. Its a frustrating and disappointing process for most participants and you have to be prepared to lose out, it happened to us about 5 times before we succeeded, but that was a learning process and we ended up with a wonderful wood.
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Re: Pre-Auction To Do List

Postby Meadowcopse » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:12 am

The legal pack for auction should be viewable at the estate agents or vendor's solicitor from at least 14 days before the auction (and in some cases as a .pdf download subject to revision).
Make time to view it, make notes - look up and quary any points and view it again.

I bought a plot privately immediately after a collective auction sale, it was a subsequent option adjacent to a larger plot and the buyer of that declined the option so it went up prepared as a seperate lot. I didnt get a bid in as it was just over my limit as the auctioneer stalled for bids and turned out not to have met reserve and possibly one genuine bidder up to that point and was withdrawn.

I hung around until the room cleared and the auctioneer approached the last bidder to invite an offer over the reserve, he turned to me as he'd seen me the week before going over the legal pack in the office and asked my why I hadn't bid. I told him the negative aspects I considered regarding the plot and the other guy's wife dragged him away at that point - I bought it for £1000 less than the stalled price at withdrawal with agreement from the vendor 10 minutes later.
Completion was 13 days later, as all the major legal stuff is prepared prior to auction and my solicitor was embarrassed to charge me nearly £300 as he had so little to do.

My other plot bought privately through an agent, dragged on for about 4 months before the final Land Registry return came back confirmed, compared to the handiness of an auction preparation.
Most of that time was the absence of a prepared pack and a bit of to & fro over detail with the vendor.
(In fairness, the vendor made an effort to confirm, line up and measure boundary points during an on site visit prior to paying deposit).

For larger plots, particularly if previous use has been mixed / varied, a Groundsure estate survey might be beneficial (around £200)

A word of caution, an unrelated local property that was advertised for a collective sale appeared 'attractive' until I viewed the digitised legal pack - some major points missing were an expired lease on a building still being used by a 3rd party that had expired 20 years previously, an enforcement notice on another building on the plot and access over common land owned by someone else, as well as being in a flood-plain.
Most of that information was obtained in minutes by downloading the title deeds and flood risk map for less than £10 off the official Land Registry website - fortunately local knowledge lead me to believe that deal seemed too good to be true, so I checked and queried it with the agent (they suggested the seller wasn't aware, but had to revise the legal pack prior to sale).
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Re: Pre-Auction To Do List

Postby sweeperliam » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:00 pm

Thanks oldclaypaws and Meadowcopse. I did hear that reserve prices are usssually well below the final sale price to get people interested. Some great info there, thanks!
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