Property auction glossary

The jargon made simple: To help you understand the new terms used around auction sales this is a simple glossary of common terms with an explanation behind each one.



A gavel is a small ceremonial mallet commonly made of hardwood, typically fashioned with a handle and often struck against a sound block. It is a symbol of the authority and right to act officially in the capacity of chair.


The term used to refer to when a seller accepts an offer from one potential buyer, but then accepts a higher offer from someone else. One of the advantages of buying at property auction is that this cannot happen, but it can happen when buying through private treaty via estate agents.


Applies only to sales by private treaty as the benefit of buying at auction is that exchange of contracts is deemed to be on the fall of the gavel. Under English law, the price you agree on is not definite until the 'exchange of contracts'. Up until that time, either party can try and re-negotiate the terms of the contract and if the prospective purchaser attempts to lower the price this is called Gazundering.

Ground Rent

The periodic, though usually annual, rent payable in return for a lease of land or property.

Guide Price

Guide prices are provided as an indication of the vendor's minimum expectation. They are not necessarily figures which a property will sell for and may change at any time prior to the auction. Virtually every property will be offered subject to a Reserve (a figure below which the Auctioneer cannot sell the property during the auction) and which should be set within the Guide Price Range or no more than 10% above a single figure Guide Price.