Clients of regional Mid-Atlantic brokerage Long & Foster Real Estate now have the option to sell their homes via an online or live auction.
The new partnership between Long & Foster’s parent company and Williams & Williams Worldwide Real Estate Auction opens up the growing world of real estate auctions to the Chantilly, Virginia-based brokerage, which has more than 11,000 agents in 200 offices spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
Oklahoma-based Williams & Williams, which has been in the real estate auction business for over 100 years and operates throughout the U.S. and across the world, has auctioneers experienced in selling a broad swath of real estate including residential homes, bank-owned properties, land and commercial properties. The firm, which claims to have sold $7.5 billion worth of real estate in the last five years, also operates an online auction platform.
Long & Foster clients interested in selling their homes at auction will work with their agents and Williams & Williams reps to market and advertise their properties.
“At Long & Foster, our real estate agents are dedicated to helping their buyers and sellers through a successful real estate transaction, and the addition of Williams & Williams auction services provides our team with one more way to support our clients and help them achieve their real estate goals,” said Larry Foster and Gary Scott, presidents of Long & Foster Real Estate, in a statement.
With big investments and new players, auctions are having a moment in U.S. residential real estate.
In March, Google’s investment wing invested $50 million in real estate auction site Auction.com. The largest online real estate dealer in the U.S., Auction.com has broadened its audience by forming a referral partnership with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, as well as creating an online community designed to bring real estate agents and potential buyers together.
Altisource Portfolio Solutions, the owner of the online real estate auction platform Hubzu, bought Owners.com in December for $2o million plus up to $7 million in earnouts over the next two years. The acquisition of the flat-fee MLS listing service opened up the possibility for the firm to offer sellers the option of auctioning their homes in addition to listing them in the MLS.
HomeSearch.com is another real estate portal with a large auction component that has big growth plans. Its operator, Real Estate Digital, plans to build the portal into a national listing site that rivals Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com. The site allows consumers to both bid on short-sale and bank-owned properties and search for MLS-listed homes.
A 4-year-old franchisor with auction roots, United Real Estate has also come onto the scene with plans to integrate its sister company’s long-standing real estate auction operation with its residential real estate network.
That doesn’t mean that agents won’t be involved. United Real Estate CEO Dan Duffy sees agents as an integral part of ushering buyers and sellers through the auction process.
Rick Sharga, executive vice president and spokesman for Auction.com, says that over 90 percent of transactions handled by the platform involve an agent or broker on one or both sides of the deal.
“Usually the listing agent is assigned to the property by the lender, who also sets the terms for agent compensation,” Sharga said.
Auction.com numbers indicate that auctions are on the rise. In 2014, Auction.com facilitated the sale of approximately 50,000 homes through auction, representing a 43 percent jump from the year before.
Sharga estimates that auctions accounted for about 3 percent of all home sales in 2014. Given the influx of new players and Auction.com’s own growth, he thinks that the share of homes sold at auction is bound to rise.