We know that our Maple Avenue-based Heritage Auctions is the undisputed leader in the online luxury auction business — the best place to buy art, jewelry, furnishings, handbags, books, manuscripts, wine … just about anything. They now have offices all over the world, and I do believe they have even surpassed Sotheby’s. Heritage Auctions is the largest collectibles auctioneer, the third largest auction house in the world, and the largest auction house founded in the US.
And it all started right here in Dallas in 1976.
We know, too, that Heritage is in the real estate auction business and, in fact, successfully sold off the O’Neil Ford-designed Penson estate on Armstrong Parkway last year for $4.950M. Honda honcho Lute Riley bought the house and then tore it all down. They sold former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s Park City ski house for $4.2M, among many others.
Now comes a new division within Heritage Real Estate Auctions: The Executive Platform. The EP program will focus on moving middle priced properties, from $500,000 up to $2 million, with speed, transparency, and vetting.
“Our objective is, frankly, to disrupt the market in this active price range,” says Nate Schar, Heritage’s category director “Real Estate agents will be fully engaged and compensated. I think they are going to love the bandwidth we are able to provide for these properties given our vast database.”
Here’s the brilliant part: Heritage will make these “lower priced” properties available to their huge online audiences and offer open, on-line bidding, as they do with other Heritage products. Sales will be 100 percent digitally based, and launch by the end of November.
“We have more activity on our website than the other three auction companies combined,” says Nate. “There are more than 40,000 daily visitors (nearly 15 million annually) to HA.com.”
All we ask, says Nate, is a pre-approval letter from a mortgage company or a bank letter of guarantee, to qualify. This is in contrast to the $100,000 cash escrow typically required for bidders for their Platinum $2 million plus properties.
After the Executive Platform Auction, the winning bidder will make a 5 percent down payment on the deal. Nate says Heritage will be highly selective on the properties they represent to ensure quality consignments with attainable selling prices.
“I want our buyers to have complete transparency that these properties have been vetted, just as we won’t sell a fake or unauthenticated artist or collectible,” he says.
The other great component to the EP platform: it is giving people with significant wealth the same experience as multi-millionaires. Previously, selling a house at auction had significant upfront fees; therefore properties have to surpass the $2 million price tag to cover costs.
But the internet bidding brings so much within grasp: like the Ebay model, there is a countdown clock. Buyers can submit all paperwork electronically through the website. Buyers don’t really have to talk to a salesperson or auctioneer. You can do your shopping at home by the computer, drinking your own fine vintage.
“Besides, with properties listed below $2 million, there is a larger pool of buyers, and those buyers are more likely to do their own homework and digging,” says Nate.
A significant web presence is part of the deal. Heritage creates a dedicated property website, marketing materials, and an online due diligence package for buyers.
“We advertise on line through our targeted ad process the same way we promote and market all our high luxury items,” says Nate. “We reach the same folks who spend $20,000 on a handbag, $200,000 on art, or $50,000 on wine. They will know about each and every property we have.”
Nate adds that having access to this database is a luxury no other auction house currently has.
“Anyone can build a data base of realtors and real estate voyeurs, ” he says, “or buy a list, but these are actually engaged, buying Heritage customers.”
Starting prices will undoubtedly be lower, which makes the program a good fit for the seller frustrated with the market timing. For example, the upcoming sale of a Turtle Creek property last listed for $900,000. It has an opening bid of $400,000.
“This is a client who is mentally ready to move on,” says Nate. “She wants the property sold by the end of 2017. She recently inherited another property and she does not want the upkeep of two homes.
And it doesn’t matter where the bidding starts, says Nate, what matters is where it finishes.