Real estate auctions were once considered to be the last resort to unload unwanted junk properties onto an unsuspecting public. With the addition of broader portfolios and better marketing, however, the use of auctions is now gathering momentum in as an effective sales tool in the real estate community.
One recent Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara, Calif., Maria Hagan of Dividend Development Corp. sold $8.2 million worth of real estate in less than two hours. But there were no real estate brokers, for sale signs or multiple listings–and the only fast talking was done by an auctioneer.
The Santa Clara-based development firm put 50 townhouses of the 103-unit San Tomas Court project on the block. Homes in the development had been selling for $169,500 to $215,000 through conventional real estate brokers for the last year. There was no minimum bid for the auction, which attracted 1,000 people, including 450 registered bidders.
Real estate auctions in are becoming an increasingly popular way to sell real estated. One reason is that foreclosure ratesthe traditional reason for real estate auctions–are on the rise. But there also is a new breed of auction–offering new, often high-priced properties–that is gaining favor among developers and consumers alike.
The new breed of auction begins with weeks of advertisement on television and radio and in newspapers. Glossy brochures and fliers are part of the sell, and the day itself has a party atmosphere, replete with catered buffets and live music.
Though real estate auctions are more common in the Midwest, the new style of auctions is a phenomenon. The public really likes buying at auctions. There’s a certain equity that comes from selling in an open forum–you feel good about what you just bought because you know there’s someone else out there who was ready to buy it for just $1,000 less than you.
Although buyers do have a chance to purchase property for far below asking price, experts say that, on average, the price paid for real estate at an auction is usually market value.
The reason is that auctions bring together everyone who’s interested in a property. The effect of potential buyer bidding against potential buyer ultimately sets a fair-market price.
In the Midwest, it’s common to auction individual houses. But rarely do it–except for homes in the million-dollar estate category.
Developers are attracted to auctions because they represent a quick way to liquidate remaining units in a large project after the initial sales momentum has worn off.
During real estate auctions, bidders are usually pre-qualified: They tour models, inspect partially completed dwellings and assess how much they are qualified to borrow.
While banks and other institutions with foreclosed property on their hands and developers looking for a quick turnover are the usual source for auction property, individual home sellers can put their homes up for bidding. This can be done by contracting an auctioneer to sell the house as part of a larger auction, or by auctioning the house by itself.
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