Some questions about how to play a game of Monopoly are not answered in the official rulebook that comes with the board game (not surprisingly). For example, under the header of Building Shortages...

When the Bank has no houses to sell, players wishing to build must wait for some player to return or sell his/her houses to the Bank before building. 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.

Several questions come to mind...

  1. Suppose multiple houses are available that two players wish to buy. Is there a single auction for all houses in contention (i.e., with bids like "$100 per house"), or is each house auctioned one at a time?

  2. If houses and hotels are in contention, the result of one auction may influence player decisions in another, or if hotels are auctioned first, even make auctioning houses unnecessary as more return to the Bank. Who decides the order of auctioning between houses and hotels?

  3. Is there a specific order that actions between turns are executed? For example, suppose Player A wishes to buy the last house in the Bank and has enough money on hand to purchase it for at least one of their properties they could put it on, and Player B wishes to buy the house but would have to mortgage or trade with another player to acquire the cash to purchase it for any of their properties they could put it on. Presumably, Player B cannot immediately force the house to go to auction, since they could not legally buy the house normally, but can Player B perform other between-turn actions, such as mortgaging or trading with another player, before Player A has a chance to purchase the house? How is priority to act between turns managed?

Broadly, I am interested in how these types of questions should be answered as objectively as possible. I know there are official Monopoly tournaments, so presumably answers to these types of questions have been worked out. Is there a more advanced rulebook or other official rule source that teaches how to play Monopoly in more detail?

1 Answer 1


I have found this Monopoly World Championship rulebook and accompanying FAQ. I am unclear on whether or not this was written or endorsed by Hasbro, but these rules seem as good as any until a more definitive source can be found (I'm pretty sure such sources do exist).

To answer the questions according to these resources (replace "houses" with "hotels" as appropriate):

  1. The FAQ states that each player declares in advance how many houses they wish to buy. The houses are auctioned one by one, and once a player has acquired as many buildings as they declared, they are not entitled to bid on other houses. Curiously, the FAQ states that trading with other players is not allowed during this type of auction.

  2. The rulebook and FAQ are silent on this. But I'll note that buying hotels adds houses back to the bank, so the players might agree to resolve the hotel shortage first. But if a player wants to buy hotels but needs to buy more houses first, then they might prefer the shortage of houses be resolved first so they can have a chance at a hotel. So if the players cannot agree on which to resolve first, I think—this is just my opinion—the most sensible course of action is to resolve the situation that came up first. If it started with "I want to build a hotel" (and the player didn't need more houses first), then resolve the hotels first; if they said "I want to buy a house" (or "I want to buy a hotel", but they needed houses), then resolve houses first. For whatever it's worth, the old NES and SNES versions had buying houses and buying hotels in completely separate rounds; you could not try to buy a hotel while other players were declaring their intent to buy houses or vice versa, and you couldn't try to buy a hotel until you already had 4 houses on each property of the color group.

  3. The rulebook and FAQ do not discuss this exact situation, but the aforementioned rule that players may not trade during housing shortage auctions suggests that the intent is that players may not conduct any kind of trading operations during a housing shortage, including mortgaging property. Still, this is only a guess.

  • 1
    I'll go ahead and accept this answer to bring finality to the question. I actually considered deleting this question, as I have since discovered that there are many additional rule sources for Monopoly varying in how official they are, which include some mutually contradictory policies. I think the most helpful project in this vein would be to write an expanded version of the official rulebook that incorporates all information from additional sources with citations, and simply acknowledges the contradictions where they exist. Maybe I'll try to compile such a resources in the future.
    – user10478
    Nov 11, 2022 at 19:47

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