Blog | Residential Auction | Residential Property

The other side of auctions: a treasure trove for quirky property lovers

Residential property auctions have long been popular with property companies, private investors and would-be owner occupiers looking to secure an attractively priced investment, house, flat, HMO or a parcel of land ( with or without planning consent) whilst offering the certainty and speed of sale the auction model is known for.

However, residential auctions provides a much broader range of property types than most would imagine, making them the ultimate treasure trove for those chasing after undiscovered opportunities . Over the years, we’ve sold numerous unusual properties, ranging from converted water towers to boat houses and listed country mansions, and the list keeps getting longer.

Why would a seller choose the auction route for these less typical assets? There is no set answer and circumstances vary, but what is often cited among the key reasons is Allsop’s residential auctions’ unrivalled national reach and the relationships we’ve nurtured with the members of our community over the years, allowing us to match vendors with the right buyers – whether that’s a plot of land or a historic mansion. Buyers, on the other hand, love the variety as well as diversification opportunities we bring with every subsequent catalogue, which is not something a conventional estate agent would be able to offer.

While houses, mixed-use schemes, flats, and land remain our bread and butter, why not take a look at some of the show-stopping /eyebrow-raising properties we’ve sold over the past few years?

And who knows – maybe you’ll find your dream (boat)house in our next catalogue?

Oyster Wharf Dock - with planning permission for a floating house

Located in Battersea opposite Chelsea Harbour Pier, a prime central London location, this dock with planning permission for a floating house was sold in 2022 for £351,000, from a guide price of £150,000, with typical boathouses on Chelsea Harbour Pier ranging from £500,000 to £1m in price, thus offering a compelling investment and value-add opportunity. With numerous remote bidders and several dozen potential buyers having requested further information on the lot ahead of auction, it was clear to us that the demand for such opportunities is higher than typically assumed.


Piers Court, one of the most beautiful houses in Gloucestershire

This stunning Grade II* listed Cotswolds mansion where Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited, sold at £3.16m at our December 2022 auction, after a fierce online competition which saw 22 bidders fighting for the property, and 228 expressing interest prior to auction.

With 23 acres of gardens, parkland and pasture, and enchanting views of the surrounding countryside, Piers Court features eight bedrooms and six bathrooms, with plenty of room for entertaining. 

A decommissioned cooling station in Camden

Conveniently located walking distance to Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park, this cooling station sold on behalf of National Grid proved to be popular with value-add aficionados, having generated 20 bids during our December 2022 auction, and ultimately selling at £660,000, more than double the guide price. Purchased by a property company, this lot offered ample potential for redevelopment, benefitting from a desirable location with numerous amenities, and Chalk Farm tube station a short walk away.

England’s largest Victorian water tower in Colchester

This Grade II* Listed water tower completed in 1883 was sold at one of our auctions back in 2014. In addition to being a well-known landmark, offering uninterrupted views of Colchester thanks to its prominent position, it is located walking distance from a variety of local amenities and Colchester Town Centre, offering a compelling redevelopment opportunity, and was ultimately sold at £190,000.


Former public toilets in Penge

Marketed on behalf of the London Borough of Bromley, this property was comprised of former public conveniences, totalling 915 sq. ft. Located in a busy retail area, with a number of shops in close vicinity and enviable transport links within easy access, lots like these often attract the attention of those on the lookout for change-of-use opportunities. This well-proportioned building found its lucky buyer, who was willing to part with £225,000, at one of our 2018 auctions.


A bunker-turned-luxury apartments in Mistley, Essex

One of the highlights of our November 2021 auction, this lot was built in 1951, during the Cold War, as a nuclear bunker for use as a command centre for the deployment and firing of anti-aircraft defences in the event of a nuclear war. In 2016, the building was purchased by developers who converted it into high-end apartments. With its high specification and location in the sought-after historic village of Mistley, this property received high volumes of attention from buy-to-let investors and was ultimately sold at £385,000.

Why choose the auction route?

The world of auctions may seem opaque and intimidating to newcomers, but in reality, it’s exactly the opposite – auctions enable sellers and buyers to achieve the best possible price in a transparent way, and are ideal for buying and selling unusual lots, which are inherently hard to value due to their scarcity.

When pricing quirky (or any) assets, auctioneers typically start from a modest figure that a large number of buyers would theoretically be happy with. Buyer demand, which can be assessed in real time, ultimately determines the final price, making auctions a great tool for achieving fair and realistic pricing not only for private investors, but also trustees, local authorities and publicly listed companies. As residential auctions resume in-room sales, this summer may be the perfect time to join our community and have a go at bidding on one or even more of our lots, ranging in value from “without reserve” up to £12m in lot size.





More from this Author

10/02/2022 Blog | Ground Rents | Residential Auction

The foundations remain solid for freehold ground rent investments

04/06/2017 Blog | Residential Auction | Ground Rents

Reversionary ground rents in 2017 – an oldie but a goodie