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Bids, please: Property auction yields slim sales

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

Going. Going. But not quite gone.

A real estate auction to liquidate a large portion of a developer’s inventory of unsold houses and lots yielded dismal results at the Georgia Mountains Center on Wednesday.

"This is just a reflection of the market," said Frank Coker of J.L. Todd Auction Co. "The market is not what it’s supposed to be, and is probably going to get worse before it gets better."

Only three of more than three dozen properties reached a price accepted by the seller.

Coker said the auction, which drew a crowd of more than 200 spectators, was attended by people who had unrealistic expectations in terms of low prices.

"Plus, the investors are a bit hesitant to buy, because they don’t know when the market is going to correct itself," Coker said.

Chris Cooley, whose company, Cooley Custom Homes, was the principal seller, was disappointed, but displayed some optimism after the auction.

"We expected some higher bids," Cooley said. "But we think we still have a chance on possibly moving these properties to some folks here in the future. We’re going to keep trying and are even willing to work out some owner financing for people."

Jeff Lawson, a real estate appraiser, had his bid of $212,000 rejected for a 16-lot subdivision off Gaines Mill Road.

"I think there’s some great bargains, if the seller takes the bid," Lawson said. He shrugged off the rejection of what had been the high bid on the property.

Mark Musselwhite, a real estate investor, said bargain hunters wanted too much in terms of price concessions.

"A lot of folks are looking for bottom fishing prices," Musselwhite said. "If a subdivision sells at $13,000 a lot, it becomes a comparative price for other real estate sales transactions, and that would not be good for the economy here in Hall County."

Coker, whose company has three more builder liquidation auctions, said each auction is different, and said the outcome at future sales could be much different.



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