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Can't Sell Your Condo? Try an Auction.

Midtown, Manhattan

Real estate auctions, condo apartments, condo boards, real estate market.

A one-bedroom condo apartment in the iconic Plaza Hotel sold at auction in 10 minutes.

Jan. 9, 2024

Long the domain of art and antiques, auctions are slowly becoming a mainstream option for selling real estate in New York, prized for their speed and transparency.

Case in point: a low-floor, one-bedroom condo apartment in the iconic Plaza Hotel sold for $2.5 million at auction last week, Crain's reports. The buyer, an anonymous Floridian who bid online, must pay a $250,000 fee to the auction house, Kiko Auctions, and the seller has to pay the broker's commission. The payback was speed. After about 60 tours by interested buyers and 500 pre-auction bids, the condo apartment in the Plaza traded after a 10-minute auction.

And in New York real estate, as in most things, time is money. The longer an apartment lingers on the market, the more carrying costs pile up. It took nearly three months on average to sell a home at the end of last year, a 4% increase since 2022, according to Douglas Elliman, which found that luxury homes are lingering even longer, at about four months, before finding a taker.

“We’re pleased,” says Tim Smucker, the seller of the Plaza unit. “This is really the most efficient way to sell an apartment.”

For years the practice of auctioning real estate suffered from negative associations because home auctions traditionally have involved foreclosures and other court-ordered transactions. Properties put on the block can carry a whiff of desperation. But advocates for auctions say they are becoming more common with non-distressed real estate and especially luxury properties, as the Plaza deal suggests.

“The landscape has completely changed,” says Misha Haghani, founder of 15-year-old Paramount Realty USA, which teamed up last year with the brokerage Compass. “People are contacting us now for auctions, which shows that there’s been a major shift in consumer sentiment.”

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