Real estate auctions often experience unfounded negative images in the marketplace. The majority of auctions today don't result from foreclosure of distress situations, but rather are the result of a seller choosing a cost-effective, accelerate method to sell a property.

Auction allows the seller to eliminate virtually all long-term carrying costs, passing the savings directly to the purchaser in the form of a reduced price. The result is a win-win situation: sellers obtain immediate cash and buyers purchase properties at fair market value, the price determined by open, competitive bidding.

NAR can help you understand the basics and benefits of a real estate auction. Learn about different auction types, how you can get involved, find online training, locate an auctioneer and more.


NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.

The Basics

Buying a Foreclosure Home at Auction: The Basics (Auction.com, Aug. 4, 2020)

What are the Stages of the Foreclosure Process? (The Balance, Jul. 2, 2020)

Should you Buy a House at Auction? (Investopedia, Jun. 1, 2020)

Going Once, Going Twice…Sold! (Aspen Daily News, Aug. 5, 2019)

What Your Lawyer Wishes You Knew About Real Estate Auctions (Boston Agent, Aug. 5, 2019)

The Changing Role of Auctions in Real Estate Sales (Boston Agent, Aug. 1, 2019)

Buying Real Estate at an Online Auction (The Balance, Jan. 28, 2019)

Types of Auctions (National Association of REALTORS®)

Auction Glossary (National Association of REALTORS®)

The Auction Market

Coronavirus Thwarts Bidding for Costa Hollywood Beach Resort’s Unsold Units (Globe St., Aug. 20, 2020)

Moratoriums Keep Foreclosures Nearly Nonexistent (REALTOR® Magazine, Aug. 14, 2020)

J.C. Penney Gets Bankruptcy Court Approval to Auction Surplus Real Estate (CoStar, Aug. 12, 2020)

Auctions Tick Up for Luxury Homes and Acreage (The Business Journal, Aug. 12, 2019)

Run-down and Vacant Homes in Detroit are Being Auctioned Off for as Little as $1,000. All Homeowners Have to Do is Get Them into Livable Condition in 6 Months (Business Insider, Jul. 28, 2019)

Transparent Real Estate Auctions Are Catching On (Globe Newswire, Jul. 26, 2019)

More Texas Ranch Owners See Benefits of Selling Land by Auction and by the Piece (PR Newswire, Jul. 23, 2019)

Sotheby’s Brings its Business Under One Roof (REALTOR® Magazine, Mar. 6, 2019)

Auction Resources &​ Education

Real Estate Auction (National Association of REALTORS®)

Federal Real Estate Auctions (U.S. Government Services Administration)

On the Govsales.gov website, search for a variety of government surplus and seized property—including real estate. In the left navigation bar, mouse over Real Estate and make a selection, such as houses, buildings and land, farms, or international real estate.

National Auctioneers Association

Auctioneer State Licensing Boards (Alabama State Board of Auctioneers)

Seized Real Property Public Auctions: General Terms of Sale (U.S. Dept. of the Treasury)

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Auctions (Kindle, eBook)

The All-New Real Estate Foreclosure, Short-Selling, Underwater, Property Auction, Postive Cash Flow Book (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

Buying and Selling Property at Auction (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

Buying Bargains at Property Auctions (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

Future Shop: How the New Auction Culture Will Revolutionize the Way We Buy, Sell, and Get the Things We Really Want (Audiobook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. Up to three hard copy books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Besner Auction and Realty Policy and Procedure Manual (Acme, MI: Besner Auction, 2004) HF 5438 B46

Buying Bargains at Property Auctions 2010, Howard Gooddie

The All-New Real Estate Foreclosure, Short-selling, Underwater, Property Auction, Positive Cash Flow Book (Wiley, 2009)

The Pre-Foreclosure Property Investor’s Kit: How to Make Money Buying Distressed Real Estate – Before the Public Auction (Hoboken, NJ, Wiley, 2005)

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The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.