A Different Kind of Auction

Posted by Dave Fratello on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 5:25am.

Just over a year ago, MBC carried news of an extraordinary auction coming up in MB. Five spec homes (2 in MB west of Sepulveda) that had failed to sell on the regular open market were going to the highest bidder. (See "Name Your Price?")

Those auctions were a wipeout – 0 for 5, though the properties all eventually found new owners. (See "Forget 'Qualified' – Auctions Failed.")

Now there's another auction around the corner, and we're going to go out on a limb here and say it won't fail.


1801 Elm is being offered to the general public in an auction on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 4:45pm.

It's a probate auction, subject to court confirmation. No need to shuttle down to the courthouse in Norwalk or someplace like that – just come to the property. (More auction details below.)

The new listing has generated a little buzz because it's priced at $399k. That's called a teaser, and in this case, it worked. If you're even remotely engaged in the local market, you probably placed and received calls (or emails) on the property on Wednesday.

Here's a second prediction: The property won't sell for $399k at the auction. (Boy, the blog author's really sticking his neck out this time!)

Right next door, 1733 Elm sold (short) for $801k in May. (Click address for more pics & details.) That was a "fixer" because it had been gutted, mid-remodel, and needed work before a family could move in.

What can we say about 1801 Elm? The listing description says only: "Fixer Upper!!!!"

And that's probably an understatement regarding this early-50s cottage. It's not sweet but gutted like 1733, it's just plain hurting. Also, with a probate sale, a first question should always be: how, when and where did the owner pass? The answer could affect the value here, and whether someone might wish to fix it up or raze the house.

There will be an open house in a couple of weeks (Sat. Nov. 28, yes, Thanksgiving weekend), so we'll wait till then to see the full range of opinions on the home. We'll call a pricing poll on this one, too, in the days leading up to the auction to see what readers guess it might go for.

For more on the auction itself, see the website of the company repping the property. Within that page is this list of FAQs about their auctions.

Based on their general rules, there's no need to register in advance to bid at the auction – you would do that on site. You don't need an agent.

You'll need $5,000 (cashier's check) to be allowed to bid, and must pony up 10% in the form of a personal check if you win the bidding.

Those requirements are much, much easier to meet for regular folks than the demands made at foreclosure auctions. That's got us thinking there'll be plenty of looky-loos with $5k cashier's checks wondering if they might just get lucky.

There will be sharks out that day, though, the foreclosure/probate-flipper pros. Do regular Joes stand any chance?
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