As the average cost of buying a first home in the United Kingdom continues to rise, many hopeful buyers are looking for less-traveled roads to homeownership. Desirable listings in even some of the country's sleepier markets may garner a number of offers in their first days of availability, meaning that prices for homes bought through U.K. estate agents are unlikely to drop or even slow their rate of appreciation soon. On the other hand, a variety of other options may well provide the opportunities that savvy, patient buyers are looking for.

The Palmer Snell guide to real estate, for example, focuses on one of these. Although individual sellers continue to make heavy use of the country's existing network of estate agents, institutional property holders often look for other ways of getting rid of excess inventory. One of the most common means for such sellers to quickly and simply dispose of their assets is through auctions.

In many cases, these auctions are mostly attended by professional investors and others who accumulate relatively large stores of residential property. Individuals and families, however, who pay attention to home auction news in the country can just as well participate, and many who do so are finding that there are bargains to be enjoyed.

Compared to the process of working with an agent, though, this route can require a more proactive stance. Agents acquire their bread and butter by guiding hopeful buyers through every step of the process of buying homes, while auctions are more suited to those who are comfortable with a more independent approach to acquiring property.

In most cases, however, a little bit of research will suffice to equip even first-time buyers with all that they need to become homeowners. Finding out when and where auctions are scheduled, in fact, is one often one of the chief hurdles to be cleared, but this presents little trouble once the appropriate outlets have been identified. Beyond that responsibility, those who hope to buy their own homes through auctions will need to take on the task of doing all of the necessary research on properties themselves, but this is again generally a fairly straightforward matter.