Going, going, but not all gone at Hamptons auction

TRD New York /
Jun.June 29, 2009 03:32 PM

Thirty-six bidders virtually raised their hands this weekend at an online auction for two Hamptons properties, with very different results. One property saw a “spirited” bidding war, with a final sale price more than $100,000 over the opening bid, said Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Enzo Morabito, who ran the auction. The other property’s bidders failed to meet the auction’s reserve price.

Auctions have become increasingly popular in New York real estate over the last several months. Auction providers claim that auctions get things moving in a stalled market. But others argue that auctions merely hurt local property values.

Morabito is of the former school of thought. “This kind of stuff usually starts something,” he said. “Anything that spotlights anything is better than silence. Hope is not a good marketing plan.”

This weekend’s auction successfully spotlighted a half-acre property in Hampton Bays. The minimum bid for the property, a bankruptcy sale of two lots, was $249,000. The property went for $351,000 in an auction that was extended an extra 15 minutes “because it was just so furious,” Morabito said. He could not give any information about the auction winner, but the bankruptcy court, which owns the property, will decide whether or not to accept the highest bid.

The second lot on the auction block last weekend, a 6.5-acre estate sale property south of the highway in Wainscott, failed to sell despite several bids. The minimum price for the property was $890,000 and the final bid was $990,000. Morabito would not reveal the auction’s reserve but said the bidders “weren’t close enough to it to make a deal.” He said the property will now most likely go on the market for a standard sale, and the property’s current neighbors have expressed interest in it.

The auction on a third property, originally scheduled for last weekend, an East Hampton home with a minimum bid of $999,999, was postponed to next weekend.

Like the second home auctioned last weekend, a number of properties in an earlier Hamptons auction run by Morabito, which included 16 properties, failed to sell. But Morabito still maintains that the auction in late March brought more traffic through the homes and sped up the properties’ eventual sales. During the open houses for that auction, one property had over 200 showings, up from one per month prior to the auction, he said. That property is now going through the short sale process with multiple interested buyers, he said.

Morabito said he also is discussing a partnership with Cablevision to bring online property auctions to Nassau and Suffolk counties. Charlstie Laytin, director of media relations for Cablevision, declined to comment.

“There would be absolutely nothing” moving in the market without the auction, Morabito said. “We would be out at sea.”

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