Monopoly Auction Rules Explained: Avoid These Common Mistakes!

Not sure how the Monopoly auction rules work and what the best way is to approach an auction?

Auctions are a very important part of the game. Despite that, a lot of people get this rule completely wrong, which makes games last way longer than they should.

In general, you’ll have auctions whenever a player lands on an unowned property and doesn’t opt to buy it, when a player goes bankrupt, when there aren’t enough houses or hotels left, and some other situations.

In this post, we’ll explain everything that you need to know about the auction rules in Monopoly, including key details such as starting amounts and optimal strategies.

Here’s everything that you’ll learn:

  • How the Monopoly auction rules work
  • When auctions happen in Monopoly
  • How to run an auction
  • The Monopoly auction starting price
  • Monopoly auction rules for two players
  • Auction rules for houses and hotels

What Is a Monopoly Auction?

A Monopoly auction works just like an auction in real life. You’ll typically auction properties, including railroads and utilities, but you might also have situations where you need to auction houses or hotels.

Once the auction starts, each player in the Monopoly game takes turns bidding on the “item”. Once it’s the player’s turn, they can opt to increase the bid or not make a bid.

Once no one wants to make a new bid, the player with the highest bid price “wins” the property and pays the amount of their bid to the bank.

When Do Monopoly Auctions Happen?

TL;DR: You should start a Monopoly auction whenever a person lands on a property and doesn’t actually buy that property.

This is the part of the rule that a lot of people get completely wrong.

There are several situations in which you should start an auction.

Here are the criteria for starting an auction in the official Monopoly game:

  1. Player lands on unowned property and doesn’t buy it– this is the most common time to start an auction. Whenever you land on an unowned property, you have the option to buy it or not. If you do not buy it, the property goes up for auction and other players can bid on it. Playing this rule properly will greatly speed up the time of your Monopoly game.
  2. Player lands on unowned property and can’t afford it – this is a variation of the situation above. You might want to buy the property but be unable to afford it. In this case, the property would still go up for auction and you could potentially buy it for less than list price.
  3. A player goes bankrupt to the bank – if a player goes bankrupt because they owe money to the bank, their properties are auctioned off to other players (assuming there are multiple players left).
  4. Not enough houses or hotels – if the Bank runs out of hotels or houses but multiple players still want to buy new houses or hotels, they will be auctioned off.

You also might have other reasons to start a Monopoly auction depending on the Monopoly edition that you’re playing or any house rules that you’re using.

For example, if you use the “Forced Auction” house rule, then every unowned property is auctioned off when a player lands on it. The player does not have the option to buy it outright like in the original rules.

What Is the Monopoly Auction Starting Price?

There are no official Monopoly auction rules for the starting price, so the first player to bid can start the bidding at any amount greater than ($0).

There are also no rules about the minimum bid increase, so you could technically outbid another player by as little as $1. However, to keep your games moving, you might want to set a house rule for a minimum bid increase.

For example, you could say that each player must outbid the other player by at least $10-$20.

This opens up some interesting Monopoly auction strategy approaches as you can potentially get properties for much cheaper than their list price. 

Alternatively, you could bid up the price above list value for a property that another player needs to complete their set.

I’ll talk about these strategies a little later on.

Who Starts the Bidding in a Monopoly Auction?

The player whose turn it is next gets to start the bidding in a Monopoly auction.

Here’s an example. Let’s say there’s “Player A” and “Player B”. In normal turns, Player B rolls the dice after Player A.

Now, let’s say that Player A lands on an unowned property and declines to buy it. That would then start an auction.

In this example, Player B would be the first to bid.

How to Auction Property in Monopoly

To put everything together, here’s a real example of how an auction might work in your Monopoly game.

  1. Player A lands on an unowned property, including railroads and utilities.
  2. Player A declines to buy the property, either because they don’t want it or they can’t afford it.
  3. The “Bank” initiates an auction for the property.
  4. Player B starts the bidding at any value above $0.
  5. Players go turn-by-turn, with an option to increase the bid each time.
  6. When no player wants to outbid the current high bid, the auction is over.
  7. The winning player pays the amount of their bid to the bank and receives the property.

Can You Mortgage Property to Pay for an Auction in Monopoly?

No – if you’re paying a strict game of Monopoly you cannot mortgage a property to pay for your bid in an auction.

This essentially means that, if you bid more than the cash you have, you would be bankrupt (to the bank) no matter what.

For this reason, I don’t recommend bidding more than the amount of cash you have on hand.

Monopoly Auction Strategy

There are a lot of different strategy dynamics to Monopoly auctions.

Let’s go through some of the most common Monopoly auction strategies…

Start an Auction for a Property That You Want So That You Can Get a Cheaper Price

If the other players are low on cash, you might be able to grab a property that you want for cheaper than list price.

Instead of buying the property outright when you land on it, you could decline to buy it and start an auction.

Of course, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your opponents’ cash because this strategy can also backfire, which leads me to the next strategy.

Bid Up Auctions for Properties That Other Players Want to Make Them Pay More

Monopoly is a ruthless game and an auction opens up some nice opportunities for you to be ruthless.

If you see that your opponent really wants a property, you can bid up the price just to make them pay more.

For example, maybe they already own two of the orange properties and they’re trying to win the third in an auction. You could still let them win, but bid up the price artificially high just to make them pay more.

Of course, you’ll need to be careful – if you bid too high you might end up paying a fortune for a property that you don’t want if the other player decides to just give up.

Always Bid At Least the Mortgage Amount of the Property

Even if you have no interest in a property, I still recommend always bidding at least the amount of that property’s mortgage value (or maybe $10 less than the mortgage value).

This is because you always have the option of winning the auction and then mortgaging the property right away.

For example, let’s say that you’re auctioning off Atlantic Avenue, one of the yellow properties.

It has a list price of $260 and a mortgage value of $130. If you were to buy it at auction for $120, you could then mortgage it right away and profit $10. Not only would you make the $10 profit, but you would also prevent other players from owning that property and always have the option of un-mortgaging it in the future.

Monopoly Auction Rules for 2 Players

The Monopoly auction rules for two players are exactly the same as the rules for games with more players.

When you bid on a property, you’ll essentially be just going back-and-forth in bidding. There’s no difference in the rules, though the auction dynamics might work a little differently because you only have to worry about one other player outbidding you.

❔ Monopoly Auction Rules FAQs ❔

To finish things out, let’s go over some rapid-fire questions that you might have about the auction rules in Monopoly.

What happens if nobody bids in a Monopoly auction?

Technically, the property would be returned to the bank. However, in the real world this will pretty much never happen because you can always bid just $1.

Do you have to bid in a Monopoly auction?

No, you aren’t forced to place a bid in an auction. You’re always free to skip. However, I generally recommend bidding at least near the mortgage value of the property if you can afford it.

Can you auction in jail in Monopoly?

Yes you can still participate in an auction even if you’re in jail. 

There’s no difference in the Monopoly auction rules whether you’re in jail or not.

Start Auctioning in Monopoly the Right Way

Monopoly auctions are something that a lot of players get wrong about the game.

I know that, when I was growing up, we never started an auction if a person declined to buy an unowned property that they landed on. This led to the games taking a lot longer than they should have.

If you follow the Monopoly auction rules as they’re written, you’ll not only add an exciting new dynamic to the game, but your Monopoly games will also go a lot faster.

To learn about some other important rules, check out my guides to mortgage rules, jail rules, and trading rules.

And to learn about the rules in general, you can check out my full Monopoly rules guide.

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