Changing Commercial Real Estate Auctions With Technology

eBay and other online services have increased the visibility of all auctions, including how they are perceived and conducted. Online real estate auctions, when combined with live open outcry real estate auctions, are taking on more prominence; however, if not implemented properly these events can prove to be unsuccessful.

While many products can be sold easily in online auctions, real estate by its nature is unique and individual. No two parcels of land, buildings, or locations are exactly the same; each has its own particular characteristics. Thus, due diligence is an extremely important part of the auction process. Technology programs, such as the CCIM member service STDBonline, are very helpful in preparing due diligence materials.

Most importantly, auctioneers rely on new technology today to publicize auctions and target potential bidders. In the past the most effective means of advertising auctions to buyers was local newspapers, the Wall Street Journal, and direct mail. However, with the lower circulation of print media and increased postal mailing costs, electronic media is now more effective. Useful formats to reach potential buyers include commercial information exchanges such as LoopNet, CoStar, and CCIMNet; targeted e-mail blast services; Web sites; banner ads; targeted cable services; and radio. In addition, potential buyers can access detailed due diligence materials on password-protected Web sites. At the auction event, Web simulcasts of live auctions bring buyers from anywhere in the world into the active bidding.

In a marketplace where value is uncertain and sales are slow, auctions demonstrate where market equilibrium should settle. The high bidder gets his purchase price reinforced by the fact that other buyers are willing to pay just $10,000 or $25,000 less than the winning bid. Auctions provide the full transparency certain situations require, such as in probate or trust sales. Bankruptcies and corporate portfolio sales can be accomplished more effectively in auctions than in traditional negotiated sales. Auctions may be the best valid forum to find today’s true market value for many properties.

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