How these two houses fare at this week’s auction may paint a picture of the market.
By Robert Plunket
Well, it’s auction time again. On Friday SKY Sotheby’s will conduct their latest auction of luxury properties at the Longboat Key Club, and after all the confusion of the last auction in November, the whole town will be watching very carefully.
This auction is smaller than the last, with 49 properties and a total value of $100 million (SKY Sotheby’s estimate). In general, they lack the glitz of the previous group, and some (like the Casey Key estate) are back for a second try—apparently the check for $15 million bounced. Oh, well.
Let’s track two of the houses going up for bids. Maybe that way we can get a picture of where the market is at the moment. I have a feeling its not going to be a pretty picture.
2958 Bay St.
The first house is perhaps the cheapest in the lot, and hardly typical. It’s at 2958 Bay St., a 1950s tract house near Paver Park (just east of downtown). It’s a good, solid, 1,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bath home, with a remodeled kitchen. In its favor: It’s a nice family home in a middle-class neighborhood with a great location. Drawbacks: The rooms are a little small and it still needs some cosmetic work.
The Bay Street home's remodeled, brightly-colored kitchen.
The original price, according to SKY Sotheby’s, was $329,000. I wonder what they were smoking when they came up with that. I can think of two other houses a block or so away, the same model and in better shape, that are currently listed at around $250,000. When you tack on the 10 percent commission you have to pay to the auctioneer, this house will have to go for well under $200,000 to be a deal. The big problem is that it’s competing with so many other bargains at the moment. But still, if you can get it for $175,000, everything included, you’re getting a real good buy in the current market.
Next is 1644 Dolphin Lane in Laurel Park. This is a brand-new town house in the fancy (though eclectic) part of downtown. It is top-of-the-line everything – 3,400 square feet, four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, two-car garage, caged pool, elevator, great custom woodwork. Original list price was $1,495,000. It is one of the top two or three houses for sale in Laurel Park at the moment and is competing with a lot of other new construction, ranging all the way down to $500,000.
Living room of 1644 Dolphin Lane.
Dolphin Lane is being sold absolute, meaning they have to accept the highest bid no matter how low – although I guess that if it was pitifully low the auctioneer could feign a heart attack. But here is a chance to get something real special. I would gladly pay up to $800,000 for this one.
The Herald Tribune did a terrible job of reporting the results of the last auction. Let’s hope they dig a little deeper this time. Meanwhile, get your cashier’s check for $10,000 (you’ll need it to bid) and check out the Web site: www.luxuryportfolioauctions.com.
See you Friday.