tampabay.com

Homes hit the auction block

An unusual auction draws bidders to the Seminole Hard Rock.

By EMILY NIPPS
Published February 25, 2007


TAMPA - Inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, thousands of slot machines jingled loudly over the blare of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer.

Straight-faced men and women sat hunched over hands of Texas Hold 'Em. Cigar smoke drifted around patrons at the center bar.

It seemed like an odd place to shop for a home. Yet about 250 curious guests gathered in the casino ballroom Saturday and had the chance to bid on an array of Florida properties while sipping free cocktails and eating hors d' oeuvres. Some watched online.

Within a few hours, the "All In Mega Auction" was over, and 26 of the 46 properties had winning offers. Judging by some of the offers, it appeared that the festive casino setting and large turnout didn't do much to offset the current buyer's market.

The winning bid on a three-bedroom Sarasota home? $50,000.

An 1,800-square-foot Bradenton home with a pool? $100,000.

A two-bedroom house in West Palm Beach's historic Flamingo Park? $115,000.

"The deals here are surreal; it's so hard to believe it," said Joey Anderson, a 22-year-old Tampa man who recently began investing in real estate.

It was Anderson's first time at a property auction, and he took his chance: a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage home on Clearwater's Coronet Lane. After competing with a few others in the ballroom, he won with an offer of $195,000.

It was unclear Saturday how many sellers would accept the offers, since none were obligated to do so.

Angelina Lochridge, who hoped to sell her parents' home in Valrico and watched the live bidding online, was disappointed with the top offer of $235,000. The home was originally listed at $324,000.

"I think we'll look into doing a lease option or renting," she said. "We're not going to sell at a loss. I seriously don't think a lot of those homeowners are going to sell at those prices."

Yet winning bidders like Steve Ward were optimistic. The Land O'Lakes real estate broker came to the auction with no intention of buying. Then he saw a six-bedroom New Tampa home flash across the large projector screen and found himself in a bidding war. He won at $215,000.

"I could sell that all day for $375,000," he said, though he knew it wasn't a sale yet. "I'll be more excited when it closes."

The event was the brainchild of Jay Bailey, who owns Bailey's Realty & Estate Auctions and served as the auctioneer. Before Saturday, he said he expected 400 people or more and a frenzy of bidding. He also predicted that such "mega-auctions" will be the wave of the future.

Although the event might have fallen short of those expectations, some sellers did get reasonable offers that might result in sales.

A three-bedroom home in Sarasota received a winning bid of $410,000. A Tampa couple looking to buy a 758-square-foot house near a canal in Hudson thought their $105,000 offer was fair and waited around the casino for the seller's answer.

"We're hoping," Jackie Henderson said. She felt like some of the other offers were ridiculous.

"There's no way the sellers are going to accept some of those."

Emily Nipps can be reached at 813 269-5313 or nipps@sptimes.com.

AUCTION FACTS

Bids below prices

Here are some of the homes up for sale in Saturday's All In Mega Auction, along with their most recent sales prices and highest bid offers.

TAMPA

10540 Lucaya Drive: In New Tampa's Heritage Isles, the two-story home has six bedrooms, three bathrooms and is on a cul-de-sac.

Sales price in October 2005: $365,700

High bid: $215,000

VALRICO

4106 Robin Way: Brick home has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage, about 2,300 square feet.

Sales price in May 2006: $270,000

High bid: $235,000

NEW PORT RICHEY

6151 Seaside Drive: Waterfront home in Gulf Harbor, has a boat lift, heated pool and spa, a fireplace and a security system with four cameras.

Sales price in August 2003: $135,000 (Listing says property was recently appraised at $840,000.)

High bid: $405,000