December 7, 2011

Patterson Park auction: $41,000 per home

The 103 rowhomes in the Patterson Park area that went up for auction together on Tuesday brought a high bid of $4.2 million -- almost $41,000 per property, or $43,000 if you include the buyer's premium. But that's not necessarily the final word.

It was an auction "with reserve," giving owner Grady Management 10 days to accept or reject. In the meantime, Grady could get another offer. Greater Baltimore AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing provider, is interested.

And, of course, no deal is done until it's gone to closing. Auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co. says that generally happens in 30 days.

Continue reading "Patterson Park auction: $41,000 per home" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Auctions

October 31, 2011

Up for auction: 103 rowhouses in Patterson Park


Photo courtesy of Sheldon Good & Co.


A major property owner in the Patterson Park area is seeking to auction off its 103 rowhomes in the Baltimore neighborhood.

Silver Spring-based Grady Management wants to sell its Harbor House portfolio in bulk rather than in pieces, according to the auctioneer. Mark Troen, chief operating officer of Sheldon Good & Co., said the suggested opening bid is $3,750,000 -- just over $36,000 per house.

He called that a "compelling opportunity," saying the average price for investor properties in the area is about $100,000. A buyer might want to continue renting all the units out or sell some, he said. The vacancy rate is 12 percent.

Continue reading "Up for auction: 103 rowhouses in Patterson Park" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Auctions

August 5, 2011

Stemmer House under contract, but you'll have to wait for details


Photo of the Stemmer House, seen through a garden arch, by Sun photographer Barbara Haddock Taylor


If you read the weekend piece about the 260-year-old Stemmer House and its lush grounds going up for auction Wednesday, you might have been curious to hear the rest of the story -- what happened.

The auction was canceled because a buyer got the Baltimore County property under contract the night before. But at the buyer's specific request, that's all the auction house can say.

"I can't divulge, unfortunately, the price or the person at this point," said Jared Block, a real estate auction specialist at Alex Cooper Auctioneers.

The extremely curious among you will have to wait for the deal to close and pop up in the public records, assuming of course that you don't have an inside source.

UPDATE: Alex Cooper's Paul Cooper says he can reveal that the family buying the property is looking forward to restoring the house and maintaining the gardens. "It's not their intent to develop the land,"  he said.

Colleague Susan Reimer, who wrote the weekend story, notes that owner Barbara Holdridge had the property on the market earlier and could not sell. The auction was set to begin at $1.4 million, "far below her original asking price," Reimer writes.

"I assume it is because of the economy," Holdridge told her. "You know, I have had generous offers over the years, and I just scoffed at them. I always thought I would die here."

Here's a photo gallery of the house and gardens to satisfy the lookyloo in us all. (Check out the aerial view via Alex Cooper.) And here's a letter from a reader who hopes the property will at some point be preserved.

The main house, a Georgian mansion, is 6,300 square feet. It sits on more than 27 acres.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Auctions, For sale

July 27, 2011

Four condos left after GrandView auction

Bidders snapped up 21 condos at a second auction at GrandView at Annapolis Towne Centre, leaving four in the 150-unit project unsold, the auctioneer reports. 

Mark Troen, chief operating officer of auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co., told me in June he was confident that everything at the high-end project would sell. Yesterday he said the builder could have auctioned the few remaining units at the Sunday event but decided a traditional transaction for the rest would bring an equal or higher price.

"We always promised that at least 10 would sell," Troen said. "We actually got to 21, so I think that's a pretty good result."

The winning bids ranged from $337,600 to $810,000 on units that Sheldon Good said were originally priced at $514,000 to $937,900.

About 200 people attended the Sunday auction, including 55 who registered to bid, Troen said.

It was a take-two auction for the complex, built by Sturbridge Homes. Bidders picked up 33 units in November, three more than Sheldon Good announced would be put up for sale.

Buyers also bought units between the two auctions. All those efforts combined explains how the GrandView went from largely empty to almost done with sales in just over half a year (though obviously some under-contract condos haven't closed yet). The earlier auction was held a year and a half after the first units changed hands.

"We sold a tremendous amount of inventory in the last seven months," Troen said.

Seen any interesting auctions lately?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Auctions

June 20, 2011

Q&A: Purchasing foreclosures

Buying a home is complicated. When it's a foreclosure, though, the questions really multiply -- whether you're trying to purchase an REO (real-estate owned) property from a bank or you're thinking of bidding at a foreclosure auction.

Two settlement attorneys teamed up to answer common questions, including ones several of you submitted. Lee M. Snyder and Eric Oberer are colleagues at Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services. Lee has been practicing real estate law since 1969 and Eric -- a former city prosecutor -- joined Mid-Atlantic in 2005.

Take it away, Lee and Eric:



Question: Is there any way for a buyer to tell before getting under contract on an REO whether the institution already has the legal ability to go to settlement?

Answer: The land records of the county/city where the property is located are the best source of information as to who is in title. It is also possible to go onto the website for the state Department of Assessments and Taxation to determine who is in title according to their records. However, both of these sources can be as much as 60-90 days behind in indexing and therefore may not show that title has recently changed. Many times, the selling REO bank has seen the foreclosure procedure completed, sale ratified, etc., and the deed from the trustees to it has not yet been recorded or indexed but the bank lists the property for sale anyway.

Q: What issues do you see crop up on a regular basis with REO transactions – delays, etc. – that buyers should be aware of?

Continue reading "Q&A: Purchasing foreclosures" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Auctions, Distress sales, Guest post, The foreclosure mess

June 17, 2011

One last auction planned for GrandView condos in Annapolis

The builder of a high-end condo project in Annapolis that used an auction to jump-start sales in November is planning another one to move what's left into the hands of buyers.

Sturbridge Homes, the builder, has scheduled the GrandView at Annapolis Towne Centre auction for July 24. Auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co. said the idea is to close out the project by selling everything that's not already under contract by the event -- around 25 units, give or take.

When the first auction was announced, two-thirds of the project was empty -- only 50 of the 150 condos had changed hands over the previous year and a half. Buyers purchased 33 units at the November event and then 30 more after that, counting both active contracts and settlements, said Mark Troen, chief operating officer of Sheldon Good.

(Wondering why the math isn't working out? Because more condos could sell between now and July 24, there's wiggle room between the number currently up for the sale and the 25-unit figure being advertised.)

Continue reading "One last auction planned for GrandView condos in Annapolis" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Auctions

May 19, 2011

In Hampden, an auction for land that wasn't actually a park



Sometimes the way you discover that land in your neighborhood isn't publicly owned open space is when it changes hands -- or gets built on. Colleague Justine Maki got to watch the former in action yesterday in her neighborhood.

Here's her story:



I've walked by the empty lots in Hampden many times with my dog, and I thought they were part of Hickory Park, so called because across the street, a metal trash can is painted with the name.

But public auction signs sprouted in the grass a few weeks ago, and pretty soon, Alex Cooper had a detailed listing for the land on its website.

My curiosity about the land is how I came to be standing in the rain on a sidewalk circling the uneven field of grass and weeds.

I arrived about 15 or 20 minutes before the auction's 1 p.m. start time, and there were a couple men in suits from Alex Cooper, a man who owns a house adjacent to the lot and another who turned out to be a bidder. The homeowner, Jeremy Kargon, is also an architect. "I came because I'm a interested party, but also in case anybody wants an architect," he said with a laugh.

Continue reading "In Hampden, an auction for land that wasn't actually a park" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Auctions, Guest post

May 13, 2011

Up for auction: Undeveloped land in Baltimore area

In the market for an entire subdivision or three?

A trio of sites in the Baltimore region -- already named, but not yet to the point of construction -- are scheduled for auction next week as part of the bankruptcy liquidation proceedings of a local builder:

o Rose Hill Estates in Rosedale, which is about 6.7 acres of land at 7800 Philadelphia Road and has a "suggested opening bid" of $200,000. There are already three single-family homes on the land.

o Arbor Ridge in Arbutus, nearly 35 acres at 5301 Keech Road that now has one house and three barns. Suggested opening bid: $350,000.

o Shadowbrook in Elkridge, a 23-acre site next to Patapsco Valley State Park in the 6400 block of Elibank Drive. Suggested opening bid: $400,000.

Continue reading "Up for auction: Undeveloped land in Baltimore area" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Auctions

April 18, 2011

Rachel Rabinowitz: How to buy real estate at auction




This week's guest writer is Rachel Rabinowitz, a residential auction specialist with Tranzon Fox.

A local, she graduated from The Park School of Baltimore, The George Washington University and Sotheby's Institute of Art London. She's a member of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors and the National Auctioneers Association.

Take it away, Rachel:






For the uninitiated, the prospect of purchasing real estate at auction can be daunting. So you’ve seen an advertised auction property and you’d like to take a closer look? Here are some best practices for pursuing real estate at auction.

Continue reading "Rachel Rabinowitz: How to buy real estate at auction" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Auctions, Guest post

November 16, 2010

33 condos sell in GrandView auction

Quick update on the GrandView at Annapolis Towne Centre auction:

Organizers report that 33 condos were sold on Sunday, more than the 30 they had planned to put on the block. Prices ranged from $275,000 to $610,000, not including the 5.5 percent commission.

That's well below the original listing prices of $415,000 to $995,000, but it's above the minimum bids of $148,500 to $308,000. 

More than 400 people showed up for the event, organizers say.

About 50 of the tower's 150 units had changed hands when the auction was announced in October.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Auctions

October 11, 2010

Annapolis condo auction



Add condos at the GrandView at Annapolis Towne Centre to the list of high-end units hitting the auction block.

Sturbridge Homes, the builder, plans to auction off as many as 30 units Nov. 14. Open houses for the event began last weekend.

Minimum bids are about 60 to 70 percent off the most recent asking prices, according to auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co. (which supplied the photograph above). It says the minimum bid is $308,000 for a condo last priced at $995,000, the highest of the lot, with the lowest minimum bid at $148,500 for a condo last priced at $415,000.

Continue reading "Annapolis condo auction" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Auctions

June 28, 2010

Up to $1 million off at Pier Homes auction

The much-anticipated Pier Homes at HarborView auction produced 18 sales, all for hundreds of thousands of dollars off the last asking prices. The biggest drop from ask to auction: about $1 million.

Read more here.

I'd say more, but I'm exhausted. Good night, all.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:28 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Auctions

April 15, 2010

Anne Arundel mansion auctioned off


Photo of Tulip Hill supplied by Concierge Auctions


What's a pre-Revolutionary War mansion on 52 acres worth? More than $2,375,000, according to the retired senior military official who bought it at an auction last weekend.

But auctioneer Concierge Auctions isn't saying just how much more the winning bidder paid -- or who the buyer is, for that matter. Unlike most auctions around here, this one was closed to the public.

The property, known as Tulip Hill, is a Georgian plantation house in Harwood that dates back to 1755. It has seven bedrooms, six-and-a-half bathrooms and a pier on the water.

It was also a distress sale. Citibank took it back from the owners as a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure last year. 

Before that, it was on the market with an asking price as high as $7.5 million at one point. But the auctioneers note that the property had more land associated with it then.

Though the buyer was local, the 16 other registered bidders hailed from as far away as England and Dubai.

"Many of the bidders were qualified to do the historic renovation that that type of property deserves," said George Graham, chief executive of Concierge Auctions, which sells luxury digs. "A property like that has very significant requirements and restrictions ... to renovate the property, given its historical significance. ... That's not the type of thing that a person that's just looking to buy a large home is necessarily prepared or qualified to do."

Selling a large house is tricky enough in a rough market, but an older large house has particular challenges. For every person who oohs and aahs over historic touches, three others will say, "Feh, this kitchen is small." Beautiful, spacious kitchens were not generally a priority back in the days when the lord and lady of the manor had a staff to whip up brunch.

Another historic home -- Cliffeholme in Baltimore County -- also ended up in the hands of its lender recently after the owner failed to sell it. That home -- a 14,000-square-foot English Revival mansion on 9 acres -- had been owned by businessman Steve Geppi.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Auctions, Unusual homes

March 6, 2010

Results of the dueling Ocean City auctions

It's not every day that condos in the same complex are sold off at two simultaneous auctions, so some of you naturally wondered what came of the dueling events for the Bahia Vista condos in Ocean City.

All sold, the auctioneers report. Eleven of the new condos went on the block at the Grand Hotel in Ocean City, handled by Marshall Auctions, and nine others were auctioned off at the Loews Annapolis Hotel by Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co.

Max Spann reports that its units went for $396,000 to $561,000. Marshall says its units went for $315,000 to $445,000 -- noting, in a bit of after-auction ribbing, that its buyers paid no premium on top of that. (As is typical at auctions, Max Spann added a 10 percent "buyer's premium" to the sales price.)

Why two auctions? Because the partnership that developed the condos split up. One of the partners went with Marshall. The rest, with Max Spann.

"That has never come up in our four generations of auctioning," Max Spann Jr. said when I asked if he'd ever seen anything like it. "I was actually out at a winter symposium for the National Auctioneers Association, lecturing, and no one had ever heard of it. So it's a new one on me." 

Spiro Buas, who signed on with Marshall Auctions, said he decided it was the way to go after he saw another Ocean City property auctioned off. He suspects his ex-partners got the same idea at the same time, since they were there, too. They went that route without discussing it with him, he said.

"I said, 'Well, that's my opportunity. They've got their date set, they've got their time set, they've got their venue set. The fairest thing for me to do is have an auction at the same day, same time,'" Buas said. "I think I produced ... super terms for the buyers to try to persuade them to come to my auction."

Continue reading "Results of the dueling Ocean City auctions" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Auctions

February 27, 2010

Patterson Park auction

An interesting thing happened when the Patterson Park Community Development Corp.'s headquarters went on the auction block Friday. Several interesting things, actually.

1) Some neighbors organized to bid as a group -- that's not something you see every day.

2) They won the bidding war.

3) But they didn't get the building.

Why? Because the lender was owed more than $790,000 and didn't want to accept $298,000 -- a haircut in excess of 60 percent. So the renovated property, which sits at the corner of Baltimore Street and Linwood Avenue, will be auctioned off again at a later date.

More about the auction, the bidders' goals and the Patterson Park CDC in today's story

For those who enjoy auction scenes, here's how this one went:

About two dozen people gathered on the ground floor, which used to be the restaurant Three... and still looked like it was ready to serve lunch. "Handcrafted cocktails," promised a sign on the wall. Plates and bowls were stacked neatly in the kitchen. Through the windows, you could see the northeastern corner of the park the Baltimore neighborhood is named after.

Alex Cooper Auctioneers' Paul Cooper, standing near the empty bar, declared: "Ladies and gentlemen, an excellent opportunity, very well-located building."

He set the starting bid at $250,000, and then the competitors were off -- at a fairly sedate pace, full of pauses and whispered consultations. When it got up to $297,000 and Cooper could see the bidders were flagging, he called a "momentary break" and went off to talk to the lender.

Continue reading "Patterson Park auction" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Auctions

February 19, 2010

'Dueling' real estate auctions in Ocean City

If you're thinking of buying one of the still-unsold Bahia Vista condos in Ocean City, you've got two real estate auctions to choose from. At exactly the same time.

At 1 p.m. Feb. 27, 11 of the new condos are going on the auction block at the Grand Hotel in Ocean City. Nine others are set for auction at the Loews Annapolis Hotel.

Marshall Auctions -- which is handling the 11-condo event -- dubbed it an "auction war" in a press release.

A variety of Eastern Shore vacation-home builders have turned to auctioneers to move their unsold inventory in the last year, since the housing slump has been particularly rough for anyone selling "discretionary" real estate. But this is the first project I've seen that was split between two auction companies.

One of the auction firms offered this explanation:
Marshall Auctions will offer 11 condominiums owned by Spiro Buas, a partner in the development of Bahia Vista. Buas retained ownership of the units after the initial partnership grew contentious and eventually dissolved.

Buas arranged a February 27 auction in Ocean City of his unsold units, but only after his former partners had begun to market a separate auction.

Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co., which is handling the nine-condo auction, says the partners it's representing will let at least four of the units go for a minimum bid of $95,000. Previous asking prices ranged from $680,000 to $790,000, the auctioneer says.

Marshall Auctions -- in a one-upmanship move -- says Buas is offering no minimum bid on at least four of his condos, plus no buyer premium.

Continue reading "'Dueling' real estate auctions in Ocean City" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Auctions

August 28, 2009

Patterson Park auctions: bellwether?

A dozen rowhomes were auctioned off Thursday in and around the Patterson Park neighborhood. That's particularly noteworthy because they belonged to the Patterson Park Community Development Corp., a nonprofit group that was the driving force in that neighborhood's revitalization but fell victim to the housing slump. It filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

More about that in today's story. But the auctions -- held back-to-back from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- are worth paying attention to even if you're not interested in Patterson Park. They're a sign of change, and not only since the bubble days.

The average price was $70,000. I thought "ouch," because they'd been refinanced for $110,000 on average in early 2007. But auctioneer Daniel Billig with A.J. Billig & Co. said it was about 30 percent more than his company had been expecting.

Nine months ago, he said, investors "weren't even coming to the auctions. I had some really great properties that I either didn't sell or I had a very tough time. I would say since the beginning of May, we've gotten progressively better. Better results, better turnout."

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:51 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Auctions

August 4, 2009

Auctions (and what to know before you go)

Max Spann Jr. calls auctions "a little stock market of real estate." I watched one of his company's little stock markets in action over the weekend.

You can read about it here, but the upshot was 19 Dewey Beach condos with original asking prices of $399,000 to $850,000 selling for $240,000 to $585,000.

The New Jersey-based Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. ran the event differently than auctions I've seen before, where something goes on the auction block and people bid specifically on that something. In this case, the format was "bidder's choice" -- the condos were offered up in batches and the winning bidder picked the one he or she wanted. Then people bid on the remaining condos in the batch, and the next winner opted for his or her favorite of the ones left over, and so on.

As it happened, the condo with the most expensive asking price in the Marina View complex in Dewey Beach was not the one that got the highest bid.

Continue reading "Auctions (and what to know before you go)" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Auctions
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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