Love and reason - our guide to buying a listed property at Auction

When you’re looking to buy at auction you will find a wealth of choice, from new builds to character properties, and even some with listed status. Seeing that a property is listed might scare you off, or you may fall in love with its history and features, but before you seal the deal, it’s worth doing your research to understand what is involved in owning a listed property.

Properties that have been placed on the National Heritage List because they are considered to be of architectural or historical interest are described as ‘listed’. Owning a listed property means that you have a responsibility to preserve it for future generations, therefore the interior and exterior have protected status, and you can only make alterations that have been authorised.

In England and Wales, listed properties are divided into three categories. Grade I is reserved for the most protected, Grade II* is again rare, but whereas Grade I is just for those of national interest, Grade II* properties have local significance. The most common category, approximately 94% of listed properties is classed as Grade II.

Prior to purchasing, make sure you obtain a copy of the relevant documentation regarding the listing. Although it may outline what is covered in the listing you will still need consent prior to undertaking any alterations or renovation work. It is also advisable to check that the current owners received permission for any work they have done, as it will be your responsibility to correct any unapproved work should you go through with the purchase.

Your local conservation office will be a valuable resource, providing information and guidance, therefore it’s worth taking the time to meet them and talk through your plans. Always see them as a friend who has the property’s best interest at heart, although you may not always agree on the way forward.

Research the construction methods used in the era in which your property was built. You may require specialist tradesman to undertake work and your conservation officer may insist that the materials used match the original. Therefore, it is worth knowing the potential costs and lead times before you make any plans.

Another cost to research is home insurance, which needs to be of a specific kind for a listed property. Be prepared, as the policy will be more expensive to insure than you are used to, this is due to the cost of the traditional materials and methods that will be required for any repairs.

The Listed Property Owners Club (LPOC) is a great place to find support, advice and specialist companies. For more information, check out their website, membership costs £55 per year.

It is an honour to own a piece of history and maintaining and restoring it will be a labour of love, but before you buy a listed property at auction, make sure that you truly know what you are taking on.

For details on the properties available at our forthcoming auction, contact your local branch.