Friday, August 13, 2010

High-profile property to go up for auction

Main Street, 1-acre site offered with no minimum bid

Express Staff Writer

This parcel at the corner of Main and River streets in Ketchum is one of three, totaling 1.04 acres, to be auctioned on site come Sept. 13 at noon. And “absolutely” no minimum bid is required for the bank-owned property, according to auction company Corbett Bottles Real Estate Auctions. Photo by David N. Seelig

A high-profile Main Street Ketchum property will be auctioned Sept. 13 and sold no matter how low the winning bid, and with no reserve.

Kent Corbett of Corbett Bottles Real Estate Auctions said the words "no reserve and no minimum bid" aren't a ploy.

The property owner, Idaho Banking Co., has signed a contract with auctioneer Corbett that holds the bank to its sell-regardless-of-price promise for the 1.04 acres, consisting of three parcels and three commercial buildings. The auction will happen on site. The land is located at the southwest corner of Main and River streets, kitty-corner to Best Western Kentwood Lodge at the southern entrance into Ketchum.

Corbett said the company has auctioned more than 150 properties across the state this year, many of which also had no reserve or minimum bid.

In fact, Corbett bought a house on a short sale—which is when sale proceeds fall short of the balance owed on a mortgage, but the lender allows it, deciding that selling the property at a moderate loss is better than foreclosing. Corbett then sold the home in an auction of no minimum bid or reserve. Friends asked Corbett, after his home's auction, if the risk scared him.

"Well, at the end of the day, I'm going to sell and to a person who's going to pay more than anyone in the crowd," he said.

He said it's a quick, but still competitive process. The risk is obviously still present. And banks traditionally aren't willing to take this risk, evident in the fact that his company—in its 20th year—never auctioned one bank-owned property until three years ago.

"And the last three years have really ramped up," he said. "We've been selling a lot for banks lately."

Bank-owned-property auctions have actually increased so much that they account for 50 percent of Corbett's auctions.

He said banks are flooded with properties they've learned they can't sell by simply listing them with real estate agents.

"They need to sell quickly," Corbett said, "but this [auction] makes it also competitive."

The Idaho Mountain Express contacted Idaho Banking Co. on Thursday to ask about the bank's motivation for turning to a no-minimum-bid auction, but the call hadn't been returned as of press time.

"The risk is actually reduced by letting all potential buyers know that the seller is ready and able to sell," Corbett said, adding that this Ketchum property has a clear title.

He admitted that the real-estate market is in a slump.

"But there's money and buyers for everything out there at the right price," he said.

He said empty lots have sold for $1,000 or $2,000. On the other hand, developed properties have sold for $3 million. Corbett, who often serves as the auctioneer, said auctions have been over in a mere five minutes. And others have rolled on for more than half an hour in a bidding war.

"It's the thrill of the deal," he said. "When you have a live auction, it's an exciting, live competitive process."

Being an auctioneer, Corbett said he can see by looking into someone's eyes when to leave them alone. And he can also see when they're willing to spend more.

Trevon Milliard:

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