Michael Jordan's Home Auction: Best Shot for a High-End Property?



Michael Jordan's suburban Chicago mansion is up on the auction block -- not because of foreclosure or bankruptcy, but perhaps because selling a home via auction seems to be an emerging trend in the luxury real estate market. "Instead of being at the mercy of the market and waiting for buyers to make offers, the sellers are able to name the date of their sale and the format, and they don't have to deal with any negotiations," Laura Brady, president of Concierge Auctions, which is handling the basketball star's home sale, told AOL Real Estate.

Although many may think auctions are for collectibles, fine art, and distressed or bank-owned properties -- such as the former Versace mansion that sold at auction last month for $41.5 million -- home auctions actually have been a growing choice for those selling real estate, especially sellers of unique, high-end properties who want to take control of the sale process, say leaders in the auction industry. Among the advantages: Properties can be sold "as-is," and with no financing contingency, no post-auction inspection period, etc.

There's no minimum opening bid for Jordan's 56,000-square-foot compound in Highland Park, Ill., but potential buyers of the former NBA superstar's estate, which is being sold furnished, do have to put down a deposit of at least $250,000 just to qualify to participate in the home auction. The mansion, pictured above and in slideshow below, features nine bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and a regulation basketball court. The 7.39-acre property currently appears on the Multiple Listing Service priced at $21 million, down from last year's list price of $29 million.

Concierge Auctions, which has set Nov. 22 as the live auction date of Jordan's "Legend Point" property, is one of a few companies operating in the luxury real estate auction space. It and competitors such as Grand Estates Auction Company prefer to hold auctions on-site because, they say, it creates a sense of urgency for potential buyers, as well as being expedient and transparent. Participants bid in person, with paddles, as one might at an antique-collectibles auction. Sometimes, however, buyers will bid over the phone.

Grand Estates -- which focuses exclusively on those properties -- started in 1999 by auctioning off homes valued at $1.9 million and greater. Today the minimum value of a home has to be $2 million. A sister company, Interluxe, deals with lower-priced (but still high-end) homes. As AOL Real Estate has reported, there are even companies that help sellers of for-sale-by-owner properties auction off their homes.

"We were the first to enter the luxury real estate business," says Grand Estates President Stacy Kirk Reich, who co-founded the company with her mother after one of their own properties sat on the traditional market a bit longer than they would have liked. Concierge began in 2005.

"When the market was on fire in 2005, 2006, 2007, sellers were using the auction because they thought they could exceed appraised values, and that was true in that market period," Reich told AOL Real Estate in a phone interview. "Then from 2008 forward, when buyers were reluctant to act [under the traditional sales model] because they feared paying too much, auctions continued to surge ahead and do very well because there were sellers who wanted intensive marketing efforts that created an urgency for the buyers to act now."

At the same time, says Reich, buyers were assured that they weren't paying too much because they knew what the next closest offer was. The live, in-person auction process provides a layer of transparency that one does not find in closed bidding, in which each potential buyer puts in an offer above the reserve or list price, and they have no idea what the other buyers are willing to pay.

Between 2005 and 2008, said Reich, sellers were able to put reserves on the property that buyers were easily able to meet and exceed. Then as the market trended downward, the "absolute" market strategy became more popular because buyers wanted greater buying opportunities. (The "absolute" auction is when there is no minimum bid. With a reserve, the opening bid has to at least match the minimum amount at which the seller is willing to sell.)

Now in 2013, said Reich, "in many marketplaces where there have been double-digit appreciation -- such as parts of Florida, like Naples, Miami and Palm Beach -- sellers once again can set a reserve which buyers will bypass because of the rate of appreciation."

Michael Jordan's home has no reserve. "I have so many amazing, happy memories of my life in the house over the years," Jordan, who helped lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, said in a statement issued through the auction house. "It's where my kids grew up. It's where I lived during my championship years. But my kids are grown now and I don't need a large house there anymore."

Jordan still has business interests in Chicago, including his restaurants. "Chicago will always have a piece of my heart," said the basketball legend, who now lives in his home state of North Carolina.

MICHAEL JORDAN'S 'LEGEND POINT' MANSION:

More about home and real estate auctions:
Neighbors Dig Deep in Bidding War Over Narrow Strip of Real Estate
Luxury Homes on Auction Block in Bid to Buy Some Buzz
Kenny Rogers' Estate on Auction Block

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