Few Sales in Charleston Real Estate Auction


Lots of real estate, but few buyers

March 29, 2008

By Katy Stech
The Post and Courier

Real estate broker and cable TV personality Richard C. Davis’ much-promoted real estate auction at the Francis Marion Hotel started out on a high note.

For a mere $7,500, a buyer snatched up a lot on Daufuskie Island that sits on the 10th fairway of the Haig Point golf course.

But the owners of the following 48 properties weren’t so lucky. Despite heavily discounted sale prices, none found buyers during the auction, dubbed the “Liquidation Sensation.”

While the final results were not available late Friday, only five of the first 100 properties sold during the event.

No one bid on eight condominiums in the Sable on the Marsh subdivision near Folly Beach, even after the opening bid for the first unit was lowered steadily to $250,000 from $300,000. A stately Newberry home listed on the National Register of Historic Places failed to secure a low bid at $100,000. And a wet slip at Ripley Light Marina on the Ashley River got no takers at $25,000.

But despite the lack of bids, Davis said he was satisfied.

The auction sales didn’t count what his real estate company, Trademark Properties, sold before the event, he said. And it doesn’t include any deals his agents might work out in the next few days, as some sellers decide to lower their prices even more or as investors regret not bidding, he said.

“We’re still putting the buyers and sellers together,” he said. “We might not get a bid in 38 seconds, but you plant a seed in 38 seconds.”

Real estate auctions are supposed to help move properties during a slow market because they link desperate sellers, who willingly discount their price below its current listing, with qualified buyers and investors, who know a good real estate opportunity when they see one.

Davis, host of “The Real Deal” on the TLC network, said his auction helped generate interest in South Carolina real estate and create some much-needed momentum.

Still, he likened the scene inside the hotel’s ballroom to a school dance, where youngsters on either side of the room want to kick up their heels but no one is gutsy enough to make the first move.

The three dozen auction attendees sparsely filled the neat rows of tables, though more prospective buyers watched the event online. Each paid about $500 to attend.

Most of the properties up for auction in Charleston were unoccupied luxury homes on or near the water. Properties located inland ranged from industrial-zoned lots to highway convenience stores to modest starter homes.

The silence in the ballroom during the first batch of bids was palpable.

By Lot 25, the auctioneer tried offering every property at $5,000 and working his way up. The first few times that tactic produced bids, but the audience never escalated the price up to the minimum threshold, and most sales were called off.

The price for a two-story home near downtown Summerville, which was built by the property’s listing agent, started at $210,000. With no bids forthcoming, bid caller John Davis, brother of Richard Davis, went to $200,000, then $195,000, then $185,000.

Organizers stopped the bidding to pull up a picture of the property.

“They really want to sell it, guys,” John Davis said to the audience.

At $165,000, it didn’t sell, and he moved on to the next property.

Randy Wallace, a Myrtle Beach investor, left two hours into the bidding after several of his properties failed to stir interest among the buyers. He and his partners had tried to sell their extra inventory — two wooded lots on Murrells Inlet, a custom-built home in Conway and 29 home sites in suburban Myrtle Beach — at an earlier auction, so he said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the Trademark auction.

“I came here with no expectations,” Wallace said.

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