Land Auctions in the UK

Many people new to buying land may have an idea of what they want, but they do not know where to begin. Land for sale is rarely advertised on the high street and often exchanges hands between farmers, developers and existing land owners. Land Auctions provide an alternative route to buying land for sale in UK.

Some land agents hold regular land auctions and a lot of people in the business of flipping land will use this method of sale. They do this because buying land at auction can mean getting plots at a reduced rate. A piece of land up for auction is no doubt a piece of land that the previous owner wants to get rid of at any price and there are more than enough people out there willing to buy it.

Why Buy Land at Auction?

There are several reasons why people buy land - including land investment, building land for sale, property development or for a self build home. Some people also look at investing through land auction because it is considered that the residential property market is overheated and because of the government's housing proposals to "concrete over" the greenbelt. A growing number see land auctions as an alternative way to invest in property - something that is certainly safer in the medium to long-term than plunging one's finances into shares or the volatility of the property market.

Buying land in the current economic climate, especially when property prices appear flat, may seem like risky speculation. However, for the astute investor, whether your plans are to redevelop an existing property or build a new, buying the right land is a sound investment if you know what to look for, how to get the best from the experts involved and if you do the necessary research into land auctions beforehand.

Buying Land at Auction

Exactly how much a plot of land will cost when buying land at auction depends on several factors, including its location, size, proximity to transport links and whether it benefits from any type of planning permission. Land sold with planning permission is always more expensive than that without.

If you are planning to buy property at auction or are looking into buying land at auction, firstly ensure that you have gathered enough information about it and any other land that is available nearby. This will help you to decide the price for which you want to bid and the return which you'll be able to get when you sell it. Remember that land auctions are a good way to find suitable plots but transactions are conducted on a 'sold as seen' basis and therefore require a quick sale, leaving little time for this important research.

A proper survey of the land carried out by a qualified land surveyor is essential and will highlight all boundaries, services, overhead power lines, public or other rights of ways, flood risk etc. Land surveyors also perform a vital function in carrying out feasibility studies, or environmental impact assessments on potential sites to assess whether plans are workable. When choosing a surveyor, look for those who are fully qualified and who are ideally members of The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Buying land at auction with professional help can be a godsend, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either – compare chartered surveyors quotes now. 

Moreover, always bear in mind the purpose for which you are buying land at auction - whether you want to sell it later, or use it for securing future by building a house, etc. Collect information on the areas around it, because if in the short term or long term there were to be development in that area, the price of the land will shoot up.

Land Auctions

For the most part, land auctions are quite common and can happen for a lot of different reasons. Maybe the land for sale is in foreclosure, or it is government owned and they are selling it for tax purposes, or it could be a farmer who is parceling off his huge amount of land and moving on now that he is out of the farming business.

Land auctions have become a popular route for buying cheap land for sale in UK. Before bidding for a plot of land for sale at auction, you need to decide on your budget and stick to it as remember that the property auctioneers will have set a guide price to encourage interest in the land for sale. 

Land such as amenity, paddocks, pasture, meadows, fields, moorings, city amenity land and other unusual land parcels are often seen under the hammer.

Typically land auctions can consist of (click on any of the below to find out more):

Building Plots for Sale 

Building plots and land for sale (with or without planning permission) achieve immediate interest and surprisingly high prices at auction. The purchase of a building plot at a land auction will probably be the largest single financial outlay in the construction of your own home. Nothing else has the outright potential to influence the overall cost of your self-build project, or in deciding whether or not you even proceed at all.

The value of a particular building plot for sale in the UK is determined in many ways by the simple equation of supply and demand but more often than not it's the location that governs the price. The keys to finding building land for sale at auction is to keep your options open and be persistent. Just keep in mind that you probably will need to obtain planning permission to build.

Agriculture Land for Sale 

As the name suggests is land used for agriculture as a business. However agricultural land for sale in the UK is becoming more and more an option for people wanting to buy land and build a dream home. Because land for building homes is increasingly difficult to find in the UK, the number of non-farmers now looking at agricultural land for sale at auction as a great alternative, has increased significantly. While the land will more than likely have no planning permission, you may apply for planning permission for a change of use of the land.

NB. Buy agricultural land wisely - if it is not near to existing housing it may be unlikely to gain planning permission.

Farm Land for Sale 

The price of all land for sale is based on supply and demand.  Basically, farmland supply is fixed, which means the only variable is demand, and subsequently price. As you can imagine, some areas of farmland are in strong demand, particularly the southeast regions of the UK where non-farmers are battling against traditional land for home building and since it is so scarce, they have turned to farmland as an alternative.

Keep in mind that while land in the UK is difficult to get your hands on, you will find more available farm land for sale at auction than other types of land. For this reason, more people are snatching up farmland even if they do not farm.

Equestrian Property for Sale 

People who wish to buy equestrian property, or property with land but who may not be particularly looking for solely ‘horse property’ can sometimes find little gems at local land auctions. As well as equestrian property for sale, e.g. racing yards, livery yards, riding schools and polo farms, the types of properties you may also find at auction include farms, smallholdings, rural property with land, paddocks with stables, and property with land for sale with the potential to develop for equestrian use.

Smallholdings for Sale 

A smallholding is a piece of land on a smaller scale than that of a farm but larger than an allotment, usually under 50 acres (0.20 km2). It is often established for the breeding of farm animals on an organic basis on free-range pastures. Investment in a smallholding will provide you with far more flexibility and the ability to see a dream come true in a country where land is a priceless commodity.

Land auctions for smallholdings are not common. Get to know the agents and land auctioneers in your area that deal in properties with land for sale. Advertising campaigns tend to be short and concentrated - study the local press, as well as farming magazines such as Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian, and web-based search agencies such as www.farmsearch.co.uk.

Acreage for Sale 

Properties with acreage are also featuring more regularly at auction and include: Houses with Stables, Equestrian Centres, Commercial and Hobby Farms, Plant Nurseries, Holiday Cottage Complexes and Country Properties with Woodland and Water.

If you are considering selling a Farm, Equestrian Property, Smallholding or any property with land and you would like advice on selling at a property auction , please contact one of our experienced auctioneers who will be happy to discuss your requirements and what we can do to help.

Land with Planning Permission

Every house that is built in the UK needs planning permission. When looking to purchase land or a building plot  there are three basic scenarios in terms of planning permission: outline, detailed and full (although remember that planning permission is sometimes not granted at all). Before proceeding to purchase land, it is vital to establish with the local authority that they will ultimately allow you permission to bring your plans to fruition. Otherwise there is no purpose in buying it in the first place.

Outline planning permission 

OPP are the basic details such as the type of building you want to build and in what location along with some basic plans. Should this be approved in principal you can then go on to apply for detailed planning permission.

Detailed Planning Permission 

Detailed planning covers detailed designs and the finer details such as the materials of the building, the landscaping of the property and so on. Construction must begin within an agreed time period.

Full planning permission 

Full planning permission is a combined application of outline and detailed planning. If there is a likelihood that it may be rejected it can be wise to submit a full application to cover all details and any doubts the authorities may have. For further information visit the government planning portal .

Land for Sale UK

Recent years have seen the public gain more access to land for sale in UK, whether for self build, investment or recreation thanks to a growing number of land agents, property auctions, and specialist publications.

Things to consider when buying land for sale, for investment or self build:

Location of land for sale in UK

Location applies equally to land acquisition as it does to property. Whether using the land for a self-build project for personal use or redeveloping it for profit, one should always have an eye on resale. You are far more likely to achieve a higher resale value if the location of the plot/development is convenient to transport links, shops and amenities.

Ground conditions

No matter how the land you buy is to be used, the ground conditions will affect the suitability of the plot. The soil type may not be ideal for the type of plants/trees you hope to grow, or may require a large amount of work to create the foundations for building on. Worse still, the land could be situated on a flood plain. Your solicitor should carry out checks and the purchase processes on your behalf.

Site Access

Do not take it for granted that the land for sale in UK will always have access. Land may be surrounded by other plots with no access and is known as being land locked. Ransom strips are a small strip of land between your plot and a right of access that is not owned by you. The costs to allow you to buy, or be allowed access over the strip can be high. A solicitor will know to look out for these, so be wary of companies that advise against using one.

If the access is via a private drive you will be responsible for maintaining it. This may be shared with other users of the drive but an annual budget should be allocated for maintenance.

The Plot


The plot size and shape should be checked - the area of the plot may provide the land required, but an awkward shape may impact your plans. Before you buy land for building on, also find out if services are connected or whether it is near to existing services for connection. Buying land without nearby services may mean that their addition is not physically possible or is financially demanding.

House Prices

Land for sale in the UK currently accounts for approximately one third of the value of a house. This can give an indication of the value of the land once planning permission is granted.

If the land has planning permission, look over the plans and see that it tallies with what you hope to build. If not, speak to the local council for an informal decision. It is possible to reapply for planning permission  without affecting the planning permission that has already been gained, so all will not be lost.

Cheap Houses for Sale

If you’re interested not only in land auctions but also cheap houses for sale use our property auction search tool today to find your dream bargain home. Our database of auction property is updated regularly, as and when the catalogues are sent to us by the auction houses.

Auctions UK

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