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Here's a hypothetical situation:

There are 12 houses left in the bank. Alice states she wishes to buy 6 of them for her red property group for $900. Bob owns the light blues with 3 hotels, and states that he wants to sell his hotels down to 4 houses each to get $75 cash.

What happens? These actions would require 18 houses and there are only 12 in the bank, so the rules state there is an auction for those houses, but how does it work?

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Does this answer your question: Housing shortage in Monopoly? Or are you asking about some sort of conflict between two players both wanting to use the house pool at the same time? –  ire_and_curses Dec 10 '12 at 17:51
    
    
This seems to be a different (although related) question. This one has to do especially with timing of purchases and the meaning of an auction if you are getting the houses through selling, not buying. –  sitnaltax Dec 19 '12 at 13:43
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2 Answers 2

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There is something about this scenario that seems unusual. Instinctively, I would say that Alice should have priority because Bob has to first sell his hotels before buying the houses. She should get her 6 houses and then Bob can downgrade his hotels to acquire the remaining.

A poster on this Board Game Geeks thread refers to The Monopoly Companion's description of a tournament rule (created after the 1983 U.S. Championships) that enforces this restriction.

While a Building Shortage exists, players desiring to buy the houses remaining in the bank have priority over those wishing to break down hotels.

I recommend that thread because they go into other examples that are pretty interesting.

I believe that Bob triggers the building shortage rules once he states his intention and Alice responds. However, if Bob were to simply state that he is selling his hotels, then it may delay the building shortage and allow for a procedure more similar to the one mentioned by @ghoppe.

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An interesting ruling. Means you pretty much NEVER want to buy hotels on the light blues or dark purples -- build up to 4 houses and stay there. –  Chris Dodd Dec 17 '12 at 22:19
    
@ChrisDodd - in general, 3 houses is the optimum –  warren Dec 18 '12 at 16:53
    
@warren: only if you have other things to invest your cash in. Otherwise, a 4th house will at worst cost you $25 if you're forced to sell it. Buying hotels may end up costing you $375 and leaving you unable to get back to the 3 house level, even if you only need $1 –  Chris Dodd Dec 18 '12 at 19:46
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The rules for Deluxe Monopoly state:

If there are a limited number of houses and hotels available and two or more players wish to buy more than the Bank has, the houses or hotels must be sold at auction to the highest bidder.

Here's how I understand the situation:

  • Alice wants 6 houses.
  • Bob wants 18 houses.
  • Bank has 12 houses.

Logically, here's what should happen:

  1. Bob sells all his hotels, collects $375 (or auction occurs before the hotels are broken down, if Bob has sufficient funds to bid and wants to save money by just selling one house on each property…)
  2. Alice wants 6 houses, Bob wants them all 12 (presumably) so 6 houses are put up for bid.
  3. Bank has 6 houses left. If she lost the first auction, Alice still wants 6 houses. So does Bob. So those 6 houses should also be put up for bid. If Alice won the first auction Bob can buy the remaining 6 houses at standard prices and put 2 each on his light blue properties.

Perhaps Alice has bid Bob up enough that she can buy the six in the second auction, or perhaps Bob has a warchest big enough to buy all 12. Most likely Alice will bid enough to make Bob's sale of his hotels a net-loss if he bids. (It would likely be a bargain for her, considering Bob's properties are light blue!) But I think that's the way it should go down.

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selling his 3 hotels (just to go to 4 houses each, as required per boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/925/180) eliminates the houses from the bank (since there are only 12) –  warren Dec 18 '12 at 16:55
    
@warren According to that linked answer's interpretation of the rules (which I agree with), if there are not enough houses available all hotels on one color-group may be sold at once. Do you suggest that someone who wants to break down three hotels into 12 houses should get priority over someone who wants to buy the houses? Alternatively I suppose the auction for the houses could occur first if Bob has sufficient funds… –  ghoppe Dec 18 '12 at 17:05
    
based on the order given in this question, sounds like the purchase demand was made prior to the sell offer - which would, if we were operating in the world of millisecond-trading, mean that the buyer-only gets preference over the seller-buyer –  warren Dec 18 '12 at 17:18
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