Athletes are Opening Their Homes to the Highest Bidder

October 24th, 2013 by Ori Klein

Image Source Concierge Auctions


It’s no secret that celebrities seem to acquire excessively elaborate homes, where features such as a bowling alley and indoor swimming pool are almost a necessity. Famous athletes are fond of these sprawling mansions as well, though it seems that many can forget to tabulate the cost of maintenance when purchasing such an enclave. And although the housing market is slowly starting to improve, today’s home buyers are seeking more economical living spaces rather than overblown McMansions that carry astronomical monthly upkeep. Hence, many top athletes have recently been going the auction route to sell their homes – sometimes by choice, sometimes not.

NBA legend Michael Jordan recently lowered the price of his massive estate just north of Chicago to a mere $21 million. When the reduction didn’t stir any interest, Jordan decided to try the auction block. Concierge Auctions will be conducting the sale of the 56,000 square-foot mansion that includes 9 bedrooms, a pool pavilion, 3-bedroom guest wing, 2-story living room, floor-to-ceiling windows, built-in aquarium and, of course, a full-size regulation basketball court.

Jordan is confident in the accelerated marketing process and specific time frame auctions have to offer, saying, “Many of the world’s most desirable items are sold at auction… By working with them [Concierge Auctions] I know that on November 22nd, the day of the auction, my house will have been seen by a worldwide audience, and I’ll have a sale with a closing in 30 days.” Laura Brady, President of Concierge Auctions, concurs on this being a prime sales opportunity. “Mr. Jordan hired us because he understands the benefits of the auction process for selling incomparable assets,” Brady comments. “While there is no pre-set minimum or reserve, buyers will have the ability to submit opening bids with their registrations. The ultimate selling price will simply be determined by the bidders on auction day.”

Jordan is far from the only professional athlete getting in on the auction action. Last year, Miami Heat forward Mike Miller decided to auction his almost 13,000 square-foot home in Pompano Beach rather than let it languish on the traditional market. Originally listed at $8.995 million, this luxury oceanfront property had been purchased by Miller for $5.4 million. Despite rich amenities including a private boat dock, butler’s quarters, media room and game parlor, Miller took a loss with the final auction sale closing in early December at $3.355 million according to Broward County Public Records.

The auction method of sale is attracting athletes outside the NBA arena as well. In 2012, Alabama football coach Nick Saban chose to go the auction route with his multi-million dollar home on Lake Burton, and last summer NASCAR champ Joe Nemechek sought the expedited process that auctions offer for his 139-acre luxury equestrian property known as “Finncastle” in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Not all auctions are by choice. Many professional athletes have fallen into bankruptcy after retirement, thus losing their homes to foreclosure. Five-time world heavyweight champion boxer Evander Holyfield lost his infamous “Villa Vittoriosa” estate last year to foreclosure. The largest single-family residence in Georgia, this palatial dwelling boasts a plethora of over-the-top luxuries including a baseball field with a lighted scoreboard, 21 bathrooms, dining room with 100-person capacity, indoor swimming pool and a 350,000-gallon outdoor swimming pool. According to Curbed.com, Holyfield still owed $14 million on the home when he lost it to foreclosure. The mega property is to be auctioned next month by Auction.com.

Holyfield isn’t alone. Last year ex-NFL star Warren Sapp lost his 15,000-square-foot, custom-designed Tuscan mansion in Florida when it was auctioned after declaring bankruptcy. Ex-NBA headliner Allen Iverson’s nearly 10,000 square-foot estate in Atlanta was sold via foreclosure auction this past February.

Still, the promise of a definitive period of time along with an intensive marketing plan continues to draw sellers looking to liquidate assets at fair market value. “Auctions give control back to sellers by allowing them to name all the terms of the sale other than the price — timing, no contingencies, as-is, etc.,” Laura Brady says. “I believe the number of luxury properties sold via auction will continue to increase for the near future and will remain constant even after market stabilization. When the market reaches a constant absorption rate, the process will continue as a stronghold for savvy sellers of unique, one-of-a-kind properties who understand that the auction platform is the best way to maximize value for incomparable assets.”


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