by Dan Krell
When you think of a real estate auction, what may come to mind is a foreclosure sale. The foreclosure sale has been popular for many years with investors and home buyers looking for a good deal. However, auctioneers have been auctioning all types of real estate (such as commercial, residential, and land) for many years.
Real estate auctions have increased so much over the last few years, such that the National Association of Auctioneers reports that residential real estate auctions have increased 8.4% from 2004 to 2005 (auctioneers.org). The growing trend is national as well as local.
Is an auction the right tool for everyone? According to Fernando Palacios, the local representative of Tranzon, LLC (a national auction company), a real estate auction would not benefit everyone. Typically, real estate auctions have been used by investors and builders to sell their inventory quickly. However, in the present real estate market more home owners have been taking advantage of the “fast track” process so as sell their home quickly. He explains that the auction process is right for you if you want a quick sale and you can set your reserve price about 10% below the market.
Why the discounted price? Mr. Palacios explained that although the goal is to get a full retail price or higher, the reserve price is set below market value to help create a “buzz.” The buzz attracts potential home buyers to the auction.
There is a lot of activity the day of the auction as the excitement builds. Sometimes several bidders bid against each other in an effort to get the winning bid, resulting in a higher than market price. According to Mr. Palacios, this happens more often in moderately priced homes.
Mr. Palacios described the benefits of an auction as having a set sale date, maintaining privacy, selling “as-is,” and receiving a “cash” offer. Having a specific date for the sale can be helpful in planning as well as being, as Mr. Palacios states, “emotionally freeing” for the home owner. The auction has one date for prospective home buyers to present their “offers” to you via the bidding process.
He continues to explain that if sell your home through a Realtor, you must maintain your home in “showing” condition and be prepared for home buyers to come by at any time. Many times, home buyers will come when it is inconvenient such as dinner time and your kid’s bed time. The auction process helps you maintain your privacy until the date of the auction, when all registered participants can preview your home.
Another benefit of the auction process is that the home is sold “as-is;” the home buyer purchases the home without a home inspection. The home owner does not have to worry about a home inspection killing the deal, or about making repairs to the home.
Getting a “cash” offer is a basic part of the auction process, which means there are no contingencies and you can count on closing in thirty days. This is to the home owner’s advantage as the home buyer has no way out of the contract.
For more information on real estate auctions and to see if it right for you, visit the National Auctioneers Association (auctioneers.org) and the Auctioneers Association of Maryland (mdauctioneers.org).
This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of May 7, 2007. Copyright © 2007 Dan Krell.