I was playing with my brother and after a few turns, my brother had 0$ due to tax.

Now it was my turn, and because I was in jail, I paid $50 to get out, which was all of my money. Then I rolled and landed on a property no one owned.

The rules just say that the bank would sell the property to the highest bidder, which doesn't help.

But you're also not allowed to do nothing, you must auction the property if you don't want to or can't pay for it.

  1. Is someone allowed to get the property for free, e.g.: "auction" for 0$?

  2. If so, who gets the property in a tie?

  • 3
    Everyone had no money and no ability to mortgage property to get some?
    – Joe W
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 0:43
  • 5
    @JoeW Improbable, but not impossible. But it doesn't really matter; because the real question is about nobody wanting to buy the property. Whether they could afford to or not doesn't change the answer.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 3:36
  • 3
    @Gendolkari It really does matter. Any player with cash on hand should be willing to bid any amount less than the mortgage value of the property, as they can immediately mortgage the property and get free money as well as control of the property. The question would be stronger if it focused on the situation where no player has any money.
    – Zags
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 21:44
  • If nobody has any money or ability to generate money, hasn't the game already ended? Are you playing with house-rules that draw out the length of the game?
    – nick012000
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 13:56
  • 1
    @Zags, In an interesting exchange of comments, member Joshua states:"... worthless properties... their expected loss on income tax exceeded their expected gains on rent." and member Nuclear Wang counters with an argument comparing mortgage value and expected loss on the IncomeTax square. boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/6857/… Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 14:56

4 Answers 4


Philip Orbanes is the renowned master of all things Monopoly. He is the author of 3 books on Monopoly :

  1. The Monopoly Companion: The Players' Guide
  2. The World’s Most Famous Game--and How It Got That Way
  3. Monopoly, Money and You: How to Profit from the Game's Secrets of Success.

Kevin Tostado is Director of the movie Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story, a documentary about the Monopoly national and world championships that are held around the world every four years; the movie won 4 Emmy Awards, including that for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary. Reference : http://www.monopolydocumentary.com/

Kevin Tostado answered the following question :

How do you properly hold an auction in Monopoly?

Reference : https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-properly-hold-an-auction-in-Monopoly

"The answer can differ depending on how you interpret the rules, since it's not clearly defined within the rules that Charles Darrow wrote when he first published MONOPOLY. But I'll describe how chief judge Phil Orbanes ran auctions at the 2009 US & World Championships.

When a player lands on an unowned property and decides that he or she does not want to purchase it at face value (either because they can't afford it, don't want it, or think they might be able to get it at a lower price), then that property immediately goes up for auction.

The banker conducts the auction and puts the property up for bid starting at $1, regardless of the original face value of the property. Any player, including the one who landed on it and declined to purchase it originally, can bid on the property. Any player can name a price, and there is no sequential order to how bids are offered. The auction continues until the banker concludes the auction with the highest bidder."

So, the chief judge, Philip Orbanes, at the Monopoly US & World Championship says bidding starts at $1.

  • 5
    This doesn't answer what you do if no player has any money
    – Zags
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 21:46
  • 3
    @Zags At any moment in Monopoly, there is always someone who has at least a dollar (or pound, or euro...) or at least one property that can be mortgaged to raise cash. However, if nobody wants the property, you're playing with such low-calibre players that I would expect that the rules are least of their problems... Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 14:27
  • 2
    Not necessarily. Players could have all of their un-mortgaged properties be developed and therefore non-mortgageable.
    – Zags
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 18:01
  • 1
    Then I would expect the property to become an unowned property that can be bought or auctioned the next time a player lands on it. Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 3:34
  • 1
    On the one hand, real auctions that start at a certain dollar amount can and do decrease that amount if there are no bidders at the starting amount. On the other hand, no auction would ever allow a $0 bid price.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 21:11

A player is allowed to bid $0 for the property, and thus buy it for $0 if no one outbids him.

The rules say:

Any player, including the one who declined the option to buy it at the printed price, may bid. Bidding may start at any price.

However, the rules do not gives any details on the specific way that the auction should be run. In most standard auctions, once someone has bid $0, any other player who wishes to bid must bid more than $0. Thus, the property would go to whoever bids first. But what player this is will depend on how you have been running auctions in the game in general.

Disclaimer: this is only a partial answer because I don't believe the rules actually answer the question.

  • 2
    This does rely on whether you interpret $0 to be a "price". (I do, but folks often get rather exclusionary about handling zeros.) Nonetheless, this is probably the most pragmatic / fun answer for casual play. If you manage to land on a property while literally no one has liquid assets, it may as well be given to someone for free.
    – tdhsmith
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 23:40
  • If we are going to allow a $0 bid (something no real auction anywhere would allow) you have opened up a can of worms because now somebody is going to submit an opening bid that is negative.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 21:12
  • @Michael The difference is that the concept of a "negative price" is not well-defined within the game rules. Sure you could assume that it means that you take that much money instead of pay that much money, but that's just an assumption. a price of $0 requires no such assumption; there's no need to guess what it means to "pay $0".
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 22:31
  • @GendoIkari I'm not sure how else you could define it. It seems to me it's more math than game rules.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 22:33

Frame challenge: I don't believe it's plausible for this to happen in any game with sane players, and so there is no need for the rules to cover it.

  • Any property, once bought, can be instantly mortgaged for half its face value. It is therefore in every player's interest to buy a property in an auction for half its face value or lower.
  • If a player has no cash, then they can raise some by mortgaging another property or selling a house. These both have costs: it will either cost you 10% of the property mortgage value to unmortgage it afterwards, or cost you half a house's value to sell it and then re-buy it. Both of these costs should be far outweighed by the gain in buying an auction property for $1 and instantly mortgaging it.
  • There are theoretical situations in which it wouldn't make sense (e.g. mortgaging the most expensive property or a house on the most expensive side, in order to buy the cheapest property) but the chances of every player being in that situation are so remote that I suggest it has never happened: properties tend to go up for auction fairly early in the game (the chances of no-one having landed on a particular property decrease as the game goes on) when either players have plenty of cash or players have plenty of unmortgaged property (cheaper properties as well as more expensive ones) available.

No real rules seem to exist for this specific scenario, where neither player has any ability to buy the property. Hate to leave such a short answer, but it appears to come down to interpretation of the rules. Since, if you start the bidding at $0, neither of you could conceivably pay higher, so the bidding is an indeterminate tie, with no fair way to decide the winner sans luck options like rolling dice or coin flips, which seems like a poor decision. The best decision seems to be to simply leave the property with no owner in the event of an indeterminate tie.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .