Land Auctions In The UK

Image showing land auctions in the UK

UK Land Auctions

Buying from UK land auctions can often mean getting a bargain. Whether you are interested in buying as a property investment or want a piece of land to build your dream home, a land auction is one place that could provide the answer to your needs.

Information is key to getting the right deal at land auctions in the UK so make sure you do enough research into the potential plot of land and the surrounding area. If there are plans for local development the price of the land may increase in value in the future.

UK Land auctions cover a wide variety of possibilities, from farmland and agricultural land to woodland for sale and rough grazing. You may also find disused land for sale, such as brownfield land, scrap land and former industrial land.

This article looks at some of the issues surrounding land auctions in the UK and how to find cheap land for sale by auction.

Picture of a green field and land for auction in the UK
Do not make any assumptions when attending land auctions in the UK. Land may not have permission to build and may also have restrictions when it comes to use. Photo © Andy Farrington (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Buying Land At A UK Land Auction

Before taking a step towards buying land at an auction it is important to do a lot of research especially about the location where you plan to buy.

Some UK land auctions will offer suitable plots for building with outline planning permission already in place. This type of land sells quickly so preparation is key to getting ahead if you are looking for land to build on.

Just as you would engage a property surveyor when buying a house, you should have a full survey of the land and this should be done by a qualified surveyor.

Commission A Land Survey

A land survey will show up the limits of the boundaries and highlight any problems with flooding. Additionally, it will show where there are any services that could affect or assist with development.

Land in the UK may be subject to restrictions due to environmental factors or public rights of way. These will also be highlighted in the land survey.

Picture of some land for sale by auction
It is very important you conduct a land survey before buying anything at a land auction, unless you are certain of the land use, such as grazing animals. Photo © Bill Boaden (cc-by-sa/2.0)

What Kind Of Land Is Sold At Auction?

In recent years land auctions have become more prevalent in the UK, especially with large parcels of farmland.

Making a living by farming has become more difficult and some larger more commercial farms have taken over from individual businesses. Some farmers who are giving up farming will sell off their land in smaller plots in order to make the most of their asset and some will be selling to cover outstanding debts.

A land auction will usually include a variety of plots with paddocks, meadows, river or canal moorings and other parcels of land. You can find agricultural land which can be a good business opportunity.

There are often good sized building plots at land auctions which may come with or without planning permission. Other types of land for sale at auction are smallholdings and land for use in equestrian sports.

Photo of some farmland for sale in the UK
On occasion you will find farmland for sale at UK land auctions but again, do your homework before buying any kind of land, no matter how attractive the plot or price may be. Photo © Christine Johnstone (cc-by-sa/2.0)

UK Land Auctions FAQ

Can I Buy A Plot Of Land At Auction?

Yes, you can buy a plot of land at an auction that is ready for development. Expect to pay between 30% and 45% of the market value of the type of house you intend to build. Plots with planning permission cost more than those without. The shortage of land with planning permission means plots are more becoming more scarce.

Where Can I Buy Land With Planning Permission?

There are online and regular auction houses which specialise in the sale of plots of land with planning permission. Land with planning permission is not plentiful at property auctions and it will depend on which area you choose whether there is anything available. Check with the local authority to see if the plot you want is exempt from planning permission.

Are Property Auctions A Good Place To Buy Land?

Land auctions can be a good place to look for a plot to build a house. Many will be sold with planning permission already in place. A parcel of land without planning permission may still be suitable to buy if it lies within an area where there are already properties. Make sure you are prepared for the land auction by doing extensive research and getting a survey ahead of the bidding.

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Looking For Land For Sale At Auction

What do you look for when buying land at auction? This depends on why you want to buy the land.

If it is for development, purchasing land with planning permission can be more important than getting the ideal location. The size of the plot can also be crucial if you are planning a large development.

However, a plot with no planning permission should not be dismissed. You can make investigations at the local planning authority to see if permission might be granted in the future.

Check out the area and you will be able to find out if a plot of land is suitable for development before you make a bid. If the land is close to other houses there is more chance of getting planning permission to develop.

There is also the all important question of access for vehicles and whether or not it will be simple to get access to services like electricity, water and telephone lines.

Photo of brownfield land for sale at auction
Brownfield land often presents good opportunities for development. Sales of brownfield plots are often available at UK land auctions. Photo © Bill Boaden (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Online Land Auctions

Land for sale at auction can be found online and there are some advantages to using online land auctions which show all the plots of land available.

You can access the catalogue of lots without leaving home and as bidding is open for 24 hours a day you can make your bid at any time instead of being restricted to certain hours. Using an online land auction to buy is convenient but it is still important to have the necessary surveys carried out before you make a bid.

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Finding Cheap Land For Sale

Cheap land for sale is available in many parts of the UK. As with properties there are some areas of the country where land is cheaper. The price of land will depend upon location and other factors and if there is planning permission land will probably be more expensive.

Some of the cheapest land for sale at auction in the UK lies on flood plains. Flooding has become more prevalent in the last few decades and it is deemed to be unwise to build on these areas.

Properties that are close to amenities are more expensive and this also applies to land. Plots of land that are in more remote areas will be cheaper than those close to essential services.

Photo of some remote land in the UK
Land for sale which is in remote areas of the UK may well be cheaper, but may also have limited use. Many cheaper parcels of land like this are located within national parks or protected areas. Photo © Stefan Czapski (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How much is an acre of land in the UK?

An acre of farmland in the UK can cost between £5,000 and £15,000 depending on the location. If the plot is situated next to a property then the price goes up. The average price for agricultural land with nothing on it in 2019 was between £6,979 and £9,500 per acre.

Prices can be lower for grazing land and woodland, as well as pieces of land which cannot be developed. For example, it is possible to buy woodland in the UK for as little as £2,000 per acre. Sometimes certain types of land simply come with a fixed price for a fixed area of land.

Buying Land As An Investment

Unless you are very rich it is unlikely you will make a lot of money from investing in land. Most of the large parcels of land sold by farmers are quickly bought up by companies.

Although the cost of the land may appear high it is nothing compared to the price that it is sold on for. Large tracts of land are split into smaller plots and sold for hyper-inflated prices and this is mainly due to the shortage of building land in the UK.

Land sold at auction is not usually sold in large plots. Most land is sold as a single development opportunity and therefore can be a good long term property investment.

Photo of some UK woodland for sale
Woodland for sale at land auctions can sometimes seem very cheap, but usually have very restrictive development or use rights. Photo © Jeff Buck (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Commercial Land For Sale At Auction

Most of the commercial property sold at auction is snapped up by developers or investors who have a lot of cash to spare. Some of the property comes with land but there are usually restrictions on what it can be used for. The lack of available commercial land due to restrictions by government means that land prices continue to go up in all areas of the UK.

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