A housing auction occurs when there is a housing shortage, and people want to buy more houses than there are houses available. Then houses are auctioned to the highest bidder.

My question occurs under the following scenario: Suppose you have the orange and navy blue monopolies (one cheap and one expensive). Normally, I would pay $100 a house for the ones I wanted to put on the oranges, and $200 a house for the one I would put on the navy blues.

But let's say we were short on houses so there was an auction whereby I bought the house for $300. Can I put it on New York Avenue, or must I put it on Boardwalk or Park Place, since $300 is closer to $200?

All other things being equal, I would put the house on the higher valued blue properties. But suppose Boardwalk/Park Place already had three houses each. Then the difference between the third and fourth house is $300 for Boardwalk. The oranges have only two houses each. The difference between two and thre houses is $380 for New York Ave. Would it then make sense to put the extra house on the "cheaper" property?

(In my question, I meant "can" in two different senses. The first one is "Is this allowed under any reasonable interpretation of the rules?" The second is, does this make sense under the scenario I have outlined?)


The rules are unclear on the exact procedure:

. Building Shortages

... 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.

My interpretation is that everyone entering the auction must announce, on entry, which Colour Group they are bidding for; and upon winning an auction must place the acquired house on that Colour Group.

Further, if an auction is being held for more than one house it is likely best that the players agree to hold separate auctions for each one. Some interesting game theoretic concepts might arise, in this circumstance, when an auction is being held for multiple houses at a single occurrence; and it would be a shame for these to not come to light.


To be clear, my proposal is:

  • A house auction begins when players have stated intention to buy more houses than there are houses available.

  • To have stated such intent, each player has, per force announced the Colour Group for which they are buying a house; and must have the capability of making such purchase from cash on hand (House Rule: and by mortgaging additional properties) but not by selling houses back to the bank. An invalid entry comprises Bankruptcy to the Bank - know your limits.

  • Auction price always begins at $1, regardless of what combination of Colour Groups have been announced by the auction Entrants for this House(s).

  • The number of houses at auction is the amount by which house demand exceeds supply. If there are 9 houses and four players announce intent to buy (for a maximum of 1 Colour Group each) 13 houses. than an auction begins for 13-9 = 4 houses.

  • A bid by a valid entrant (above) is final once made. If an Entrant bids an amount greater than they can immediately pay from cash and from mortgaging undeveloped properties on undeveloped Colour Groups that entrant is Bankrupt to the Bank and out of the game.

  • The Player winning each House Auction must place all houses won on any properties of the one Colour Group announced by that player as destination when entering the Auction; in accordance with the normal placement rules for houses on a Colour Group.

There are two deliberate strategic considerations explicitly available to the players here:

  1. The last Player(s) into an Auction have increased ability to control the size of that Auction.

  2. It is possible, and allowed, to attempt acquisition of houses more cheaply than normal through strategic auctions. The Players have an obligation to protect themselves against such activity by being in a position to compete in Auctions. this is no different from acquiring Properties cheaply in Property Auctions.

  • This makes logical sense to me as the auction price would have to start at the price for the lowest property being bought for. You wouldn't want someone winning an auction and placing it on a property where the house should cost more than was paid for. For example paying $150 for a house that goes on a property where it should cost $200. – Joe W Dec 24 '20 at 3:06
  • @JoeW: I never claimed or recommended that - but the other players know, and that adds the interesting additional game theoretic aspect in my mind. It's the responsibility of the other plyers to bid up the price of an auctioned house appropriately. – Forget I was ever here Dec 24 '20 at 4:05
  • I am not saying you made any claims but just pointing out that even at auction you would still have to at least pay the minimum amount for the color group you are wanting to purchase it for. – Joe W Dec 24 '20 at 4:52
  • @JoeW: It doesn't work that way, as i could enter bidding for the browns, as you enter for Matfair and pick up a house for $75 by outbidding me. Once an auction starts, each enrant must announce which colour group their purchase will be placed on. It can't be that only the firsts entrant is unable to get a house below the standard value. – Forget I was ever here Dec 24 '20 at 5:41
  • If there is a large number of houses up for auction, and you don't want to spend the next half hour of your life auctioning houses, everyone should secretly write down a list of prices. The first house goes to the highest price, and that price is crossed out. Then the next, and so on. You could also have it be that the house goes to the person with the next price, but the price they pay is always the next highest price after that one (see Vickrey auction). – Acccumulation Dec 24 '20 at 6:01

This is an interesting question. It is not explicitly mentioned in the rules. But there is nothing in the rules prohibiting an auction if players want houses for different tiers. And it must have been if that was the case. Besides, it is an auction so the bidders decide the value they want to pay.

There are some topics on BGG about house auctions and one person even asks the same question but it is never explicitly answered.


Question : If you buy a house at “auction,” can you put it on any property?

Short answer : No

According to the Monopoly 2020 World Championship rules https://www.2020monopolyworldchampionship.com/hk/MWC%20Rules%20(Eng).pdf

RUNNING OUT OF BUILDINGS If the banker has no houses left, you must wait for other players to return theirs before you can buy any.

If there is a limited number of houses or hotels left and two or more players wish to buy more than the banker has, the banker auctions them off individually to the highest bidder, starting at the lowest price shown on the relevant Title Deed card(s). Note: You can only join in the bidding if you have room for that house or hotel on one of your properties. You can never buy a house or hotel to use later.

Therefore, if there are left a limited number of houses or hotels, and at least two players want to buy some, then the bank auctions off the houses, or hotels, individually.

The bank will fix the starting price at the lowest price shown on the relevant title deed card. In other words, each bidding player must first reveal on which property the house or hotel will be legally built, if it is won.

Conclusion : A player can win a house or hotel for an price that is lower than the price indicated on the title deed.

  • Good find. This is pretty close to what I surmised as the likely rule interpolation most consistent with the spirit of the other rules. – Forget I was ever here Dec 26 '20 at 18:55
  • "Conclusion : A player can win a house or hotel for an price that is lower than the price indicated on the title deed." But this can happen only if another player with a cheaper monopoly tries to contest the house purchase. Otherwise, the first player will have to pay $200 for a house on Boardwalk, right? If that's the case, the person would the lesser monopoly might keep silent. A logical time for an auction might be if the last house was for sale, the Boardwalk holder wanted to pay $200 for it, and another person says, no, I"ll bid $250 for it, even for New York Ave. – Tom Au Dec 27 '20 at 4:21

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