Sold! Real Estate Auction Action

By: Rob Muller

Want to sell your $30 million dollar home in a day? Call up your local auction house and hang onto your hat. American auctioneers are doing a ripping real estate business right now with no sign of slowing down. In fact, the National Auctioneers Association says real estate auctions are the fastest growing auction type with annual sales rising at least $2.2 billion in the past year for a total of $58.5 billion in real estate sales in 2007. That's a lot of real estate.

Housing slump? That depends on how you look at it. Certainly the boom in housing sales at real estate auctions is directly tied to the rise in pre-foreclosures and trouble in the sub prime market, but it's a boom nonetheless. We've even been seeing high-end properties hitting the auction block. The most recent of these being the former home of publishing heir Randolph Hearst. The 52 room, 28 thousand square foot oceanfront mansion in south Florida was sinking under more than 40 million dollars worth of debt and went up for auction on Feb. 25th. Bidding started at $100 and heated up to a steep $22 million within 5 minutes. Papers for the 3.5 acre estate were eventually awarded to the bank holding the loans.

Sellers often choose auctions for the pre-determined sale day and quick turnaround time with zero haggling. Buyers are drawn to the promise of great deal. Most homes that show up in auction houses are in pre-foreclosure or in foreclosure and the homeowner or the bank is auctioning it off to pay the debt on the mortgage. What this usually means is that the property is being sold far below market value.

Of course, financial concerns aside, you may want to attend an auction strictly for the entertainment value of it. The rolling rhythm of the auctioneer's chant is a kind of siren song, the true melody of commerce with it's own built-in beat. Auction hounds will tell you it's worth witnessing even if you leave all your money at home. Once the bidding starts, the auctioneer's steady and rapid hoodoo has a way of revving up the crowd with it's fast paced repetition and climbing numbers based on the series of head nods, hat tips and waves from the crowd. There's no mistaking it, the atmosphere can be intense. Ask any auction rookie who's been locked in a bid-war and stuck with a hammer price they didn't intend. It's hard to keep your wits about you. But for the level-headed buyer, this kind of free market can be the perfect forum for a great deal.

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