Contradicting our initial report on the Bel Air auction, it now looks as if the real auction results differ substantially from initial published reports.
In a very unusual auction development, updated reports on the Bel Air condos suggest that while bids were placed for all of the units, only 2 of the bids have actually been accepted by the developers. Despite a large crowd of more than 300 attendees and “winning” bidders for each of the 25 or so remaining units, small print in the auction rules requires acceptance by the developers.
According to Jude at the Downtown Austin blog, the lowest winning bids were in the 60% of original list price range, far lower than the typical 25% – 30% discount typically seen for closeout sales and auctions. To add insult to injury, it sounds as if the bank is now negotiating with some of the “winners” to try to get their bids raised to meet the minimum selling price.
No matter how you look at it, these seem like bad results for everyone involved. Bidders were misled by artificially and unrealistically high minimum sales prices, the developers will likely have many unsold units that are clearly being offered at above market rates, and the current residents will have a new lower market price AND unsold units to contend with if they try to sell.
There is no transparency at this point so it will be very difficult to get a clear picture of how many units actually sold or what the final sales price was for each unit. We’re not even sure of the sizes of the units as the official numbers include garage and roof deck space which should not be counted. The best estimates suggest that the size range is 1,100 to 1,500 square feet.
As we have said, the Bel Air results are only marginally relevant to downtown Austin residents and condo buyers. The Bel Air is a low-rise town house project in far south Austin (South of Ben White). While Green and designed to meet the needs of a more urban buyer, the location limits the price premium. It is entirely possible that the economics don’t work: that the developers will not be able to recoup their costs while selling the remaining units.
We’ll see how this one falls out . . . the biggest casualty may be the Austin auction seen as the most likely bidders may avoid future auctions fearing similarly opaque processes and results.
Bel Air Interior