Keller Williams NYC forms new group to auction luxury homes

May.May 08, 2012 06:00 PM

Keller Williams NYC has opened an auction division in conjunction with national real estate auction house Supreme Auctions to sell high-end properties in the style of art and antiquities, the company told The Real Deal today. The newly-formed Keller Williams Luxury Auction Team announced that its first auction, for a 4.7-acre estate in Middletown, N.J., will be held on June 12 today.

The new team, which has already commenced operations, has just named its head — Tuvia Sablosky, who will work out of Keller Williams NYC’s recently opened 425 Park Avenue office and will focus on properties above $10 million, said Keller Williams NYC COO Zhann Jochinke. He will hold the title of managing director.

The division will serve the tri-state area and is already in talks with more than one Manhattan apartment seller, according to Jochinke.

“[Auctions are] the type of thing that’s geared to getting a lot of men with a lot of money in a room together to prove just how much they’re worth,” Jochinke said. “A lot like what they do in the art world.”

But Supreme does more than facilitate auctions. They will market the properties on auction to buyers — both domestic and foreign — and identify off-market properties that sellers might be interested in auctioning.

“There is a misconception about auctions — that they are a fire sale,” said Maverick Commins, president of Supreme. But in reality, he added, they can facilitate better pricing by creating a competitive environment, and bringing together buyers and sellers who are serious about closing transactions. They are also a great way for buyers to gauge smaller markets, he said. “For a unique property, it can be hard to price,” Commins said.

Supreme, which Commins called “the Christie’s or Sotheby’s of real estate,” recently sold a £17.4 million ($28.13 million) home in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood in a private sale, after the home had languished on the market, lowering its listing price to as little as £14 million ($22.63 million) before deciding to opt for an auction, Commins said. “We know there are two markets: the Arabs and the Russians… so we sent out a blast [of marketing materials] and we had some Arabs who got into a bidding war, and it closed in about 10 days.” Commins noted that about half of all properties that are slated to be auctioned are actually sold before they hit the block, as the marketing effort has already stirred up enough interest to prompt buyers to pull the trigger.

“[Supreme] spends a significant amount of time marketing,” Jochinke said. “They are taking a part of the broker’s job onto their plates.”

Jochinke said he anticipates the newly formed auction expects to hold “three or so” auctions in Manhattan before the end of the year, and more in the rest of the tri-state area.

The new division joins other Keller Williams offices in Scottsdale, Seattle and Austin that already offer an auction division. The parent company will be opening additional auction divisions in Los Angeles and San Diego in the coming months, Commins said.

Sablosky, the New York City office’s new head, joined Keller Williams NYC in February of this year. He met Commins at the Keller Williams annual Family Reunion event in Orlando, Fla., and the two began talking about opening an auction division in the northeast, Sablosky said. After just two weeks the pair was solidifying plans for the new division.

Sablosky has worked in commercial real estate in the past, and was most recently the vice president of business development at Integrity Research, which provides information on equity markets.

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