Auction or Private Treaty?

One of the most frequently asked questions among home sellers is whether it’s better to opt for an auction or go for a private sale. Understanding the distinction between these two options, along with their respective advantages and disadvantages, can help you make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances.


Auctions are a common method for selling properties and are often the preferred choice for many sellers. The auction process typically involves the following steps:

  • Pricing: This involves discussing with your real estate agent to set a minimum selling price, known as the reserve price, for your property.
  • Date: You and your agent will then agree on a specific date for the auction. Timing is crucial as it can significantly impact the bidding activity and final sale price.
  • Sell: On the auction day, your property is presented to potential buyers, and bids are facilitated by an auctioneer. Bidding starts, often with an opening bid lower than the reserve price, and continues until the highest bid is reached. If the bidding doesn’t meet the reserve price, your agent will negotiate with the highest bidder afterward.

Advantages of Auctions:

  • Auctions are known for generating competitive bidding, potentially resulting in the highest possible sale price.
  • Sellers have control over setting terms and conditions for the auction.
  • The process is typically fast, with settlements often completed within a month.

Disadvantages of Auctions:

  • The competitive atmosphere of auctions may deter certain buyers, especially older individuals.
  • Legal constraints apply once a bid is accepted, even if higher offers come later.
  • Strict laws govern auction procedures, necessitating consultation with a real estate agent.

Private Sales:

Also known as private treaty sales, this method offers a less confrontational approach to selling properties. It involves negotiations directly between the seller and potential buyers.

Advantages of Private Sales:

  • Private sales can be more appealing to some buyers due to the less competitive and more personalized nature of the process.
  • Sellers have more time to consider offers and negotiate terms before finalizing a sale.

Disadvantages of Private Sales:

  • Private sales may result in less urgency and competition among buyers, potentially leading to a lower sale price.
  • Without the competitive pressure of an auction, sellers may need to be cautious of accepting offers below the property’s value.

While auctions are a popular choice for selling houses, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of both options and consider your specific market conditions.