The Brazos Place auction is big news: residents are outraged, bargain hunters are taking note, and the media is marking the first downtown condo auction with glee. The big story is that opening bids start at less than half of original listing price for most units. The real question should be: what will the units likely sell for? This answer is most relevant to Brazos Place residents and potential buyers alike.
On the assumption that this is not the first condo auction that Beverly Hills-based Kennedy Wilson has conducted, we’ve done some research.
Last December, 300 people packed the underground basement of a Hyatt in Seattle to bid on 15 units from the Capital Hill Press Condos (shown below) in a similar auction run by the same firm. The auction drew a youngish crowd of potential buyers, in particular people who previously felt priced out of Seattle’s downtown condo market. As in Austin, the units were listed at about 50% of their previous listing price.
So what happened? All 15 units sold during the auction. The teaser opening bids worked: the auction was packed and competitive and the units sold for an average of 80% of the listing price. While 20% is still a good discount, it’s a lot less than the 50% lowest bid that lures many people to look at the property. When the developers consider mortgage interest, taxes, real estate commissions, marketing costs, and the price of maintaining model units, sales staff, and a sales center, it’s easy to see why these auctions are becoming more common around the country.
In Los Angeles, a similar Kennedy Wilson auction drew similar crowds with minimum bids set at nearly 50% off the last asking price. As a result, more than 1,500 shoppers toured the models and about 4,000 requested auction catalogues. On auction day, 387 registered bidders showed up. One again, all units sold during the auction with an average price that was more than 50% above the minimum bid. According to the LA Times: “Even successful bidders said they offered more than they planned on bidding.”
While these auctions provided similar results, every building and every market is different. If anything, these comparable auctions show why the developers may have chosen this path. Supposedly, Kennedy Wilson auctioned more than 1,000 condos and houses last year alone. The Brazos Place Auction, it’s turnout and activity, will provide a more vivd picture of demand for downtown Austin and for units in converted buildings in particular.
Units at Capital Hill Press Condos in Seattle Were Auctioned in December