Reserve Prices Explained: Why They Shouldn’t Deter Sydney Buyers

The Sydney property market, renowned for its vibrant and dynamic nature, often leaves potential buyers with numerous questions. Among these, the concept of reserve prices is a frequently misunderstood aspect. Reserve prices can seem daunting, but they shouldn’t deter buyers from pursuing their dream property in this competitive market. This blog post will demystify reserve prices and explain why they should not discourage prospective buyers in Sydney.


Reserve prices are an essential element in property auctions, especially in a bustling real estate market like Sydney’s. They represent the minimum amount a seller is willing to accept for their property. Understanding reserve prices is crucial for buyers, as it helps them navigate the auction process more effectively and make informed decisions. This blog aims to elucidate the concept of reserve prices, dispel common misconceptions, and provide insights into why they should not deter buyers from participating in Sydney’s property market.

Read More: How to Buy at Auction or Auction Tips for Buyers

Quick Points to Understand Reserve Prices

  1. Definition: A reserve price is the minimum price a seller will accept for their property at auction.
  2. Confidentiality: The reserve price is usually confidential and known only to the seller and the auctioneer.
  3. Flexibility: Sellers can adjust the reserve price during the auction, depending on the level of interest and bidding activity.
  4. No Sale Below Reserve: If bids do not reach the reserve price, the property will not be sold at the auction.
  5. Not the Final Price: The reserve price is not necessarily indicative of the final sale price, which can be higher depending on the competition among bidders.

Understanding Reserve Prices

What is a Reserve Price?

A reserve price is essentially a safety net for sellers. It ensures that their property will not be sold for less than they are willing to accept. This price is typically set after careful consideration of various factors, including the property’s market value, recent sales in the area, and the seller’s financial needs and goals.

Why Reserve Prices Shouldn’t Deter Buyers

1. Reserve Prices Are Not Set in Stone

One of the most important things to understand about reserve prices is their flexibility. Sellers can and often do adjust the reserve price during the auction, based on the level of interest and the bidding activity. This means that if there is strong competition and bids are close to the reserve price, the seller may decide to lower the reserve to facilitate a sale.

2. Auctions Can End with Negotiations

Even if the bids do not reach the reserve price, the property is not automatically taken off the market. Often, the highest bidder is given the opportunity to negotiate with the seller after the auction. This means that even if you do not reach the reserve price during the auction, you still have a chance to secure the property through post-auction negotiations.

3. Reserve Prices Provide Transparency

While the reserve price itself is confidential, the auction process offers transparency regarding the level of interest in the property. As a buyer, you can gauge how many people are interested and how aggressively they are bidding. This information can be valuable in shaping your bidding strategy and setting realistic expectations.

4. It Reflects the Market Sentiment

Reserve prices are often aligned with the current market conditions. In a buoyant market, reserve prices may be higher, reflecting strong demand and rising property values. Conversely, in a softer market, reserve prices may be lower. Understanding this can help buyers align their expectations and bidding strategies with the market reality.

5. Opportunity for Bargains

In some cases, properties may not meet their reserve price at auction, leading to a passed-in auction. This scenario can present an excellent opportunity for buyers to negotiate directly with the seller, potentially securing the property at a price lower than expected.

How to Approach Reserve Prices as a Buyer

Do Your Research

Before attending an auction, it’s crucial to research the property thoroughly. Understand its market value by comparing it with recent sales of similar properties in the area. This will give you a realistic idea of what to expect and help you determine a sensible bidding limit.

Set a Budget

Establish a clear budget and stick to it. Auctions can be exciting, and it’s easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. By setting a firm budget beforehand, you can avoid the risk of overbidding and ensure that you stay within your financial comfort zone.

Attend Multiple Auctions

Attending multiple auctions as an observer can provide valuable insights into how reserve prices influence the bidding process. You’ll gain a better understanding of how much properties are selling for compared to their reserve prices and develop a more informed bidding strategy.

Work with a Real Estate Agent

A knowledgeable real estate agent can be an invaluable asset when navigating the auction process. They can provide insights into reserve prices, advise on bidding strategies, and represent your interests during post-auction negotiations if necessary.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

If the property you’re interested in does not sell at auction, be ready to engage in negotiations with the seller. Often, sellers are motivated to sell quickly and may be willing to accept a reasonable offer close to the highest bid received during the auction.


1. What happens if the reserve price is not met at an auction?

If the reserve price is not met, the property is considered “passed in,” and the highest bidder is usually given the opportunity to negotiate with the seller directly.

2. Can the reserve price be changed during the auction?

Yes, the reserve price can be adjusted by the seller during the auction, depending on the level of interest and bidding activity.

3. Is the reserve price the same as the starting bid?

No, the starting bid is the initial bid requested by the auctioneer to kick off the auction, whereas the reserve price is the minimum amount the seller is willing to accept for the property.

4. How can I find out the reserve price for a property?

The reserve price is typically confidential and not disclosed to buyers. However, you can get an idea of the expected price range by researching comparable property sales and consulting with real estate agents.

5. Should I bid if the reserve price seems high?

Yes, you should still bid if you’re interested in the property. The reserve price is flexible, and there may be opportunities for post-auction negotiations even if the reserve price is not met during the auction.


Reserve prices play a crucial role in property auctions, offering security for sellers and a benchmark for buyers. Understanding how reserve prices work and their implications can empower buyers to approach auctions with confidence. Remember, reserve prices are not barriers but rather guideposts in the dynamic landscape of Sydney’s property market. With thorough research, strategic planning, and a willingness to negotiate, buyers can navigate the auction process effectively and secure their desired property.



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