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112 Prince Street, #2FL (Serhant) 112 Prince Street, #2FL (Serhant)
“Going once, going twice, SOLD!" aren't words typically uttered when people close on a home, but in exceptional cases, homes are auctioned off, even in New York City. While most are distressed properties that have gone into foreclosure, luxury properties are also occasionally auctioned off. This article outlines the three most common ways to buy a property at an auction and explores the pros and cons of doing so.

Types of Property Auctions

Foreclosure Auctions

The vast majority of auctioned-off homes are auctioned off due to foreclosure. In many cases, these are also distressed properties. In New York City, details about upcoming property auctions can be on the NYC Department of Finance site.

Government Surplus Auctions

Regional, state, and federal authorities occasionally also hold auctions to sell off surplus items. In most cases, auctioned items are limited to old office furniture. For example, NYC’s Citywide Administrative Services is currently auctioning off several old lamps, printers, and even a few boxes of lightbulbs. From time to time, however, homes also come up for auction. While auctioned-off homes are rare in New York City, vacant lots do occasionally get auctioned off by local authorities. At the state level, home auctions are somewhat more common. Visit the state's Surplus Real Estate Auctions site to learn about upcoming opportunities.

Luxury Auctions

While rare, luxury homes are also auctioned off from time to time. Harcourts Auction, for example, is currently auctioning off several homes in New York City, including a stunning Soho loft. With bids starting at $3.6 million, this auction isn't targeting people looking for a bargain but rather people interested in purchasing a unique, artist-designed home. The home was designed by photographer and conceptual artist Michael Somoroff and architect Stephen Wanta (read more about 112 Prince Street on 6sqft).

If you can’t start bidding at $3.6 million, Harcourts is also currently auctioning off a more affordable two-bedroom home on East 57th Street, with bids starting at just over $1 million.

The Advantages of Buying an Auctioned Home

Sometimes, auctions offer access to unique homes, such as 112 Prince Street. In some cases, auctioned homes can also be acquired under market value, but this isn't necessarily true. If a bidding war gets highly competitive, there is even a risk that you’ll end up paying more than market value. That said, sometimes, auctions can offer buyers access to homes at a great price, especially if the property is a foreclosure or has gone on the market due to a tax lien. This is also why anyone bidding on an auctioned home must proceed cautiously.

The Dangers of Buying an Auctioned Property

There are many potential dangers associated with bidding on auctioned properties, especially if you don’t already have an extensive background in real estate.

Limited Access to View or Inspect the Property

In contrast to a traditional sale, you may not be able to walk through the property in advance, which can put you at risk as a buyer. Likewise, you may or may not be able to carry out an inspection before putting in a bid and closing on the property.

Additional Research

When bidding on a property, the onus is on you and your legal representative to find out what is going on behind the scenes. As always, hire a title search company to find out if there are any liens on the property, including contractor liens. Also, be certain to determine if their property is still financed and whether a second mortgage has ever been taken out on the property.

Higher Closing Cost

Since researching the property is bound to take more time, expect your attorney fees to be higher than average. You may also have to pay outstanding loans or taxes at closing. Finally, to protect yourself at closing, you will likely need to purchase title insurance during the Escrow or soon after to protect yourself if your initial title search failed to discover a lien against the property.

Legal Complications

Just because a property is being auctioned off doesn't mean the former owner is on board. In rare cases, the former owner or a tenant may still be living in the home, which evidently creates complications fewer bidders are likely to welcome.

Limited Financing Options

Depending on the property, finding a lender may be more difficult if you’re pursuing an auctioned property. This partly reflects the fact that these properties often come with unique risks and unknowns.
Given the potential dangers of bidding on auctioned properties, one might wonder if it is ever a good idea. In fact, if you're interested in a property being auctioned off and you do your due diligence, bidding on an auctioned home can be a great way to purchase a unique or undervalued property. Still, as a rule of thumb, always go in with your eyes wide open since bidding on auctioned properties shares little in common with the typical home buying experience.

Auctioned Homes in NYC
303-West-66th-Street-01 Lincoln Guild, #1GE (City Connections)
From the Listing:Luxury Live Auction! Bidding to start from $800,000.00! Harcourts Auctions Certified & Transparent Non-Distressed Auction Platform! Luxury Live Auction! Bidding to start from $800,000.00! Live Auction Thursday, August 4th, 2022. No Buyer Premium. All Property, Seller Reports/Disclosures completed. All offers are encouraged. Submit an offer to stop the auction -- loan or cash. Easy process to register to bid.

Bring your whole family to this terrific and quiet first floor home that features a spacious living room, a pass-through kitchen, a separate windowed dining nook, two large bedrooms, and a full bathroom. Ample closets throughout the apartment and great eastern views with lots of lights. Monthly maintenance includes gas and electricity.
See floor plan and full details here.

411-East-57th-Street-01 411 East 57th Street, #2A (Corcoran)
411-East-57th-Street
From the Listing: Harcourts Luxury Live Auction - this is not a foreclosure- rather a way to cast a wide net to buyers interested in a Manhattan apartment. Bidding to start from $1,099,000 - Auction Date: 3:00pm August 18th, 2022. Seller has nominated a reserve that must be met in order for the sale to take place. All buyers and financing options welcome. Contingencies and variations to terms considered. No buyer premium or additional fees. All disclosures and reports available. Submit pre-emptive offer to stop auction. Contact for further information.

Invite your favorite people over for an afternoon of grilling, complemented with the spices from your very own garden. Host a playdate with a day in the sprinklers. Your pet will love basking in the summer sunlight. Inside this space, it is so quiet you can hear a pin drop with CitiQuiet soundproof windows in every room. Enjoy a spacious living room with a designated dining area. This windowed kitchen has all the counter space and cabinets you need. Sleeping in the primary suite is comfortable for a king-sized bed and features a custom walk-in closet.
See floor plan and full details here.

258-Stuyvesant-Avenue-01 258 Stuyvesant Avenue, #TH (Nest Seekers LLC)
258-Stuyvesant-Avenue
From the Listing:This home is exclusively listed through Nestseekers International and will also be offered to the public through Harcourts Auctions. Harcourts Luxury Live Auction - Bidding to start from $2,800,000 Auction Date: 3:00pm July 21, 2022. Seller has nominated a reserve that must be met in order for the sale to take place. All buyers and financing options welcome. Contingencies and variations to terms considered. No buyer premium or additional fees. All disclosures and reports available at https://liveauction.link/258Stuyvesant. Submit pre-emptive offer to stop auction. Contact for further information.

This three-family home has been lovingly restored by the sellers who have painstakingly brought this grand old lady, into the 21st century. The home consists of a triplex owner’s unit with 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms and 2 half bathrooms and a home office. On the garden level, the tenants enter through a private gate to find 2 junior one-bedroom/1-bath apartments (about 400 square feet each).
See floor plan and full details here.

112-Prince-Street 112 Prince Street, #2FL (Serhant)
112-Prince-Street
112-Prince-Street
From the Listing:Luxury Live Auction! Bidding to start from $3,600,000.00! Harcourts Auctions Certified & Transparent Non-Distressed Auction Platform! Luxury Live Auction! Bidding to start from $3,600,000.00! Live Auction Thursday, June 23rd, 2022. No Buyer Premium. All Property, Seller Reports/Disclosures completed. Download at https://liveauction.link/112Prince All offers encouraged. Submit offer to stop auction — loan or cash. Easy process to register to bid.

Available for the first time in 25 years, this work of art is one of the most singularly unique properties, not only in Soho, but in all of NYC. Situated on the corner of Prince and Greene Streets, this floor through keyed elevator loft overlooks the classic architecture that defines the Cast Iron district and boasts an abundance of irreplaceable authentic details including restored wooden-beam ceilings, cast iron columns, wooden framed windows and 13 foot ceilings heights. Sitting at an impressive 36’ feet wide, the landmarked Cast Iron building lends itself perfectly to house this conceptual loft, expressing the tale of two distinct design periods. Upon entering the home you are greeted with dramatic sculptural volumes and and expansive great room showcasing 6 oversized wooden framed windows bathing the loft in all day light.
See floor plan and full details here.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.