by William F. Galvin
Cape Cod Chronicle
HARWICH – It is not often you can participate in a real estate auction where the owner has previously signed the purchase and sales agreement and bidders can name their price. It is even more rare when that real estate is in the upscale neighborhood to the west of Allen Harbor.
Realtor Thomas H. Peterson said he sold a home this past year along near by Dunes Road for $3.5 million and another property across the street from the home auctioned off Friday on Mirasol Lane a year and a half ago for $1.1 million. That was the second home in the immediate neighborhood sold for more than $1 million over the past couple of years.
But that was then and this is now, and for property owner John Quincy, Jr. of 16 Mirasol Ln., the then and now are miles apart. The Quincy property went on the market the beginning of this year with an asking price of $1.3 million, said Peterson.
“The real estate market was so slow and I have to move into another house, it was awful, I had to drop the price three times,” Quincy told The Chronicle Friday.
Still there were no buyers. So Quincy made a decision to auction the real estate, but did so with no safety net.
“It’s an absolute auction,” explained Daniel P. McLaughlin of the auctioneer and appraisal company of the same name. “There is no minimum bid required and the seller is obligated to take the high bid regardless of the price.”
It takes courage for the seller to do this,” Peterson said. McLaughlin agreed, pointing out in the more than 20 years he has been in business, he has auctioned off more than 13,000 properties, but only on about five occasions has he done a “name your price” auction.
The property is located off Lower County Road, less than a couple of hundred yards from Allen Harbor and under a quarter of a mile from Nantucket Sound. It is part of a 110-lot subdivision created in the 1920s by Ben Whitehouse, who later donated Whitehouse Field to the town -- the location where the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League play their home games.
The Quincy house was the model home developed for that subdivision, Peterson said on Friday. It’s a four-bedroom Cape with two bathrooms, wide pine floors, living/dining area and fireplace. It has dual enclosed porches, irrigation system, security system and an in-ground pool. The structure is situated on .38 acre. The home is well kept. Its assessed value is $664,300.
“He’s a frustrated seller, he has no mortgage, and he’ll take what he can get,” Peterson said the day before the auction. “It’s a nice elegant old house.”
The homeowner stood in the shadow of the two-car garage as bidders and curiosity seekers washed over the property on Friday morning. The bidders came with a $25,000 deposit check and an understanding there would be a five percent buyer’s premium added to the purchase price.
The sign on the front lawn defined the terms of the auction, including the balance due in 30 days. But it was the bottom of the sign that caught the attention of the crowd: “AbsoluteAuction – No Minimum Bid. This property will be sold regardless of price.”
“It’s a rare opportunity,” McLaughlin told the assembled group. “You don’t get the opportunity often to have an absolute auction, especially in this neighborhood. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”
The auctioneer went on to stress the purchase is “as is, where is.” The only condition ensures a septic system certificate will be provided assuring compliance when the closing takes place.
“We’ll start where you want,” McLaughlin said as 14 registered bidders stood anxiously at the ready.
But no one responded to the auctioneer; so McLaughlin started at $250,000 and in five instances bidders acknowledged an increase of $50,000. Once at $500,000 and with interested parties narrowed to two participants, a bid for $525,000 was made.
“Who will bid $550,000?” inquired McLaughlin –silence. He asked again --silence. Going once, going twice.Astall, then Kim Khazei, an anchor for WHDH, Channel 7 news in Boston, offered $530,000. “$540,000, who will offer $540,000?” called out McLaughlin. Silence again. Then Ed Acton, a local resident, signaled his winning bid.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Khazei said of the property slipping out of reach. As second highest bidder she would still have a chance to purchase the property should Acton not meet the conditions of the sale.
Acton said the absolute bid is a different and interesting marketing tool for a selling a property. He stated his intention to upgrade the home, but said little more.
“It’s better than I expected,” Quincy said of the final bid price.