'TAMPA - Scores of gamblers gathered at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday, but the name of the game was real estate, not roulette.
Alan Westfall was betting he could break even on a six-bedroom home he invested in right before the local market went south last year.'
He bought last year and is hoping to break even? Sorry brother, but if you bought at the peak of the market, you've got until 2016 (or later) before prices will get back to that level. Believe it.
'He hadn't counted on a swarm of bidders betting on a fire sale.
Of the first 10 properties on the auction block, Westfall said his two properties drew the highest bids - $215,000 for a 3,000-square-foot home in the golf course community of Heritage Isles; another $215,000 for 56 acres in Riverview.
"That doesn't make us feel any better," he said. Not when the mortgage on the Heritage Isles place is $150,000 more than that. Not when he was looking for $2.5 million on the parcel in Riverview.
Westfall, like many other hopeful sellers at the mass auction, didn't accept the offers. Each invested $2,500 per property toward advertising costs.'
As predicted, the reserve prices and the winning bid prices were far and few between. Though a few sellers did price aggressively and made a sale.
Now, let's do a quick calc: 46 properties x $2,500 per listing = $115,000. Granted, a lot of work and a bit of overhead went into it, but certainly not a bad way to make money. Some hype from the auctioneer now.
'In the end, it paid off for many of them, auctioneer Jay Bailey said.
"It was weird and wonderful," he said of the event, where 46 properties went on the auction block.
At first, Bailey was disappointed - both with the crowd, which he said numbered less than 300, and with the bids.
The auction ended at 2:30 p.m., a couple of hours before the scheduled 5 p.m. close of bidding.
Then something strange happened, Bailey said. People started cutting deals.
"It's like they were trying to learn how to bid first. I think they reverted back to conventional real estate buying," he said.
Bailey, of Bailey's Real Estate and Estate Auctions, said he doesn't have a tally on Saturday's transactions. Several properties sold. The largest, a 453-acre tract in Levy County, sold for $5,000 per acre in an online bid - $4,000 more than the reserve, or minimum required by the seller.
Other contracts were hammered out after the auction. "We're in real negotiations now with 15 to 20 others," he said.'
In the end - the question is asked again: was this just another marketing gimmick to push overpriced real estate, or a sign of desperation (with more to come)?