Dueling Auctions Set For Resort Condos

OCEAN CITY – Perhaps a sign of growing frustration with the slow recovery of the real estate market in the resort area, two competing groups are hosting buyer incentive-laden auctions of several units in a largely vacant luxury bayfront condominium building next Saturday.

Dozens of units in the upscale Bahia Vista development along the bay between 10th and 11th streets will go up for auction in different locations on the same day next week in a rare split between two ownership groups. In what has been characterized by one of the competing groups as an “auction war,” Marshall Auctions will offer 11 condominiums owned by Spiro Buas, a partner in the development of Bahia Vista, while nine different units will be auctioned by Max Spann Auctioneers on behalf of a different group, Atlantic Planning and Development, Inc.

The two groups parted ways over a year ago and are now in the process of trying to move the unsold inventory at the luxury bayfront development. That both are holding auctions on the same day at different locations is not merely a coincidence, according to Buas.

“The timing of this auction war was driven exclusively by my former partners,” he said. “The situation also pushed our team to develop favorable terms, like the removal of minimum prices on some of the units and the waived buyer premium, to make this auction more financially viable to buyers.”

Meanwhile, Atlantic Planning and Development this week downplayed the significance of the conflicting auctions for high-end units in the same development on the same day.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as an auction war,” said Atlantic Planning and Development partner Jeff Thaler this week. “He’s having his auction and we’re having ours. It just happens to be on the same day. It’s not really a competition thing, that’s just how it worked out.”

The clear winners in the perceived competition could be the potential buyers. Buas’ group is offering at least four of the units, once listed at around $800,000, at no minimum price, no buyer premium, a reduced deposit amount of only $10,000 and guaranteed financing. That auction will take place at the Grand Hotel in Ocean City at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic Planning and Development group is offering nine bayfront units in the development as a “builder’s close-out” with minimum bids of just $95,000 on units that once listed for $790,000. That auction will also be held next Saturday, although it will be held in a hotel in Annapolis with prospective bidders touring the units this weekend.

Thaler said the auction reflects a change in the resort area real estate market and downplayed the significance of a perceived bidding war for the vacant units.

“It’s no secret it has been difficult to sell some of the higher end units in this economy,” he said. “We’re just trying to move some inventory. This is not a forced sale and the bank has been paid. We sold just two of the units in the last year and this presents an opportunity to move some of them.”