True confessions of an auction addict

Skier in Vail, Colo.

Aside from the fact that many readers like to keep up with auction news, I once had an experience that seems to have hooked me on the subject.

When I was a writer for Money magazine in the early 80s, real estate auctions were rare enough that I was assigned to cover one.  The auction in question was for unsold units near Vail, Colo.

In the course of preparing to head there, I had several conversations with a woman who worked for the auction company. She seemed smart and knowledgeable.  And when I arrived at the auction site, we met for the first time.  I liked her.

Well, let me tell you about auction fever.

Yup, she and I decided on the spot to become business partners for one of the condos, which we intended to rent for weeks or months to skiers.  Bidding, we got a good price–my defenses have blotted out the memory of how much.

Lenders were there offering loans on the spot with only $5,000 down with a hefty balloon years later.  How could we lose?

One way we could lose was that the place was only between two skis areas, and the shuttle bus option obviously was unacceptable to prospective vacationers.  We hardly ever rented the place, which we had to furnish, until we found a long-term tenant whose monthly payments did not, alas, cover our nut.

That was bad enough, but then my partner stopped paying her share.  Frying pan to fire is a metaphor that works all too well in this instance.

Finally, my father helped me by buying out that partner, and in time–a long time–we unloaded the place at, of course, a loss.

I learned my lesson, but I do still enjoy attending auctions, using the education that I received from the school of hard knocks.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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