Vail Daily column: Should I auction off my multi-million dollar property?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

I own a high end property that has been on the market for three years, with no serious interest — i.e. no offers. We have lowered the price three times and changed brokers twice. I have had an appraisal done, so I feel comfortable with the value. A friend of mine suggested that I engage an auction company that does luxury auctions. What do you think of an auction for a multi-million dollar property? That makes me a little nervous.

Dear Auction Candidate,

Until I learned about some good reputable auction companies, I would have agreed with you about being nervous. I have experienced and investigated some marginal companies that have questionable bidders and make a profit whether or not the property sells. Through an affiliation with my company, I have come to discover there are reputable, hard-working and extremely successful ​​auction companies that are all above board and only take a fee when your property sells.

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As to the question of whether or not you should try it (with the right real estate broker and right auction company), I think the best way to answer is to have you take a bird’s-eye view of the world. You will see that the most expensive commodities in the world are usually sold at auction, to maximize the price. I am not suggesting that this works on every luxury real estate property, as circumstances are different for each seller. However, it is good to look at the advantages a well-run, luxury auction can provide. I am speaking of an “absolute auction,” where there is no reserve and so there is certainty the property will sell. Once again, to do an “absolute auction,” you need to trust the marketing that the auction company (and your broker) will do locally, nationally and internationally. You need to know their database of luxury auction buyers and thoroughly understand how the auction works and their success ratios. When you are satisfied with the process, you can see the benefits the auction can provide:

• You will know your exact sale date (unless the accelerated marketing brings in a great offer prior to the auction — and then it would be sooner!).

• You will not have to deal with contingencies, financing or inspections, since that is all taken care of prior to the bid date.

• You will know that your property has been marketed to the max, locally, nationally and internationally, and that the buyers all have a sense of urgency since there is a set, published sale date.

• You can make plans for your future feeling secure that this asset/liability will be taken care of.

Make a few phone calls to the​ local​ real estate companies to find brokers who are​ knowledgeable and know of high-end auction companies and/or call a couple of ​reputable luxury auction companies who will suggest a real estate broker in your area​. At luxury auctions for real estate, the seller must have a listing agent and the buyers will either have a broker or will eventually be assigned one. I don’t know your particular situation, but this option for selling your property is definitely worth investigating. It might be just the answer for your particular property and situation.​ Good luck!

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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