June 23, 2002

Susan Brickman, CNC Real Estate Editor
As seen in The Metro West Daily News
 Going once! Going twice! Sold!

Auctions are a part of the American culture.

It's a perfectly accepted means of selling items. Just look at all the publicly held auctions five and on the Internet.

But when it comes to the auction of a home or property, there is some stigma, perhaps. Sometimes, an owner is unable to make the appointed payments on a home and a bank or lender will auction a home or property, usually at a foreclosure. Or, the property may have been obtained by ill-gotten means and the government is selling it by auction. Or, some might be led to believe that there is something so awful about the home, no one will buy it the traditional way.

Yet DeWolfe New England doesn't see it that way at all. The company has began a pilot program, a Premier Property Auction Service, to allow its sellers and agents to auction properties rather than simply market and sell them traditionally.

This Thursday at 6 p.m., DeWolfe, in conjunction with its new auction partner, Jerome J. Manning & Co., Inc., a longtime auction business based in Yarmouthport, will attempt to sell a four bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath colonial at 102 Belcher Drive in Sudbury.

"It's just another method of sale," said Rick Loughlin president of DeWolfe Real Estate, one of the DeWolfe companies. "I think the stigma always exists with the word auction, but the issue is we want to take properties, that haven't always been on the market, but may have been, and sell them through a different method. These are not distressed properties," Loughlin replied when queried if potential buyers may think that way. This will be the fifth auction held by DeWolfe through its new program, Loughlin said, and although no homes were sold at the previous four auctions, he said he and his company believe ifs a program that can work. "The auction method has been successful in other parts of the country, so we thought we would beta test it," he said. The program is being promoted for now in the MetroWest area, he said, in towns such as Sudbury, Concord, Weston, Wellesley and Needham. One of the homes in a previous auction had been on the market prior to the auction. The other three all were new construction, he said. He said he believes one of the new homes sold after the auction. There is a minimum bid for all or these properties.

Several or the homes were in Wellesley and had 50 to 60 people attend, with five or six bidders, Loughlin said, "There were very strong bids, but we were not able to consummate the transactions on any of them. We will continue to bring it to the attention of agents and make it an available service to them. We will be rolling it out in other market areas in New England. This is a test site to see what we could learn from our agents and the marketplace and we will continue to use it as one of our marketing tools."

"The first reason consumers opt to auction is for speed," said auctioneer Jerry Manning who will be the lead man in the upcoming auction. "Another reason is to determine a property's value."
The property at 102 Belcher had been on the market for several months, listed traditionally with DeWolfe broker Anne Kirkpatrick at a price above $710,000. The price has since been reduced to $699,000. The minimum bid is $475,000. The home is on beautiful grounds in a lovely, quiet section of Sudbury. The home, however it is sold, whether by auction or traditional sale, comes ,with a 13-month DeWolfe warranty that includes coverage on certain systems, no matter their age, but does not include any "pre-existing conditions," according to Loughlin.
A report included with the auction package indicates the home in Sudbury has settled to a degree and may continue to do so. That report also indicates there are methods to halt the settling. Potential buyers/bidders at
an Open house last weekend did ask about the settling. Loughlin said he has not seen the property nor the auction details and could not comment on whether that might influence the bidding.

Despite any faults, Manning said he believes the buyer at the auction - or after - will be an "end-user," a consumer who wants to live in the house rather than a builder who might have other ideas for the property. "Certainly, a builder is a consumer who could be a Potential bidder at an auction," DeWolfe's Loughlin said. "We would welcome any and all buyers, first-time buyers, to certainly come and bid at the auction. It's an open bidding process. Our ultimate goal is to sell the property."