Williams & Williams, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate auction firms, said today that a number of recent online moves have helped the firm double its sales volume in the past year, as real estate auctions gain momentum with U.S. consumers as a viable sales alternative. The venerable real estate auction company, boasting more than 100 years in the business, recently launched a new consumer-focused web site for its U.S. auctions. Through partnerships with online giants including Google, RealtyTrac.com and Zillow.com, the auctioneer provides integrated mapping, online valuation and even online bidding. 2006 U.S.-based sales at the auctioneer topped over 5,000 individual real estate assets, the company said. In the fourth quarter alone, over 2,000 properties were sold, with values ranging from as low as $25,000 to over $5 million. 2007 U.S. sales are on pace to double again, according to company officials, reaching over 10,000 properties being sold through the firm’s live auctions. â€œReal estate auctions can dramatically improve the efficiency of the sales process and provide real estate investors a way to quickly and efficiently purchase properties that they’re interested in,â€? said Rick Sharga, vice president of marketing for RealtyTrac, which publishes the largest national database of foreclosure and bank-owned properties. â€œBy partnering with an industry leader like Williams & Williams, we’ve been able to expose bank-owned homes, default properties and more traditional real estate to our subscribers, who are all looking for immediate investment opportunities.â€? Zillow vice president of partner relations, Jorrit Van der Meulen, said, â€œInvestors now have an option to purchase real estate through an auction, accessible through the Williams & Williams Web site. Our Zestimates are a great starting point for buyers to research a home’s value.â€?
Dean Williams, CEO of the auction company that bears his family name and tradition, says that his goal is to drive transparency into real estate sales. “We feel strongly that rather than trying to steer pricing or limit consumer access to information, it’s more valuable to empower end users to make their selling and buying decisions directly and with more transparency,â€? he said. “Auction has historically been the transaction model for opening up markets to everyone regardless of their relationship to a middleman. Allowing buyers and sellers to achieve market value transactions competitively and with time certainty also drastically lowers the transaction costs incurred.” While auctions for real property have been growing for some time in many other parts of the world, Williams see auctions as a relatively new trend for the U.S. buyers. â€œTraditionally in the U.S., buyers and sellers have had to do a fairly complicated and somewhat expensive dance around an agent centered â€˜asking price’ model,” he said. “As with many other industries, transparent pricing through auctions unleashes a lot of opportunities and value for actual buyers and sellers, and radically simplifies the process.â€? Residential real estate is the fastest growing sector in the auction industry. According to the National Auctioneers Association (NAA), auction industry revenue grew to $257.2 billion in 2006 â€“ an increase of $7.1 billion from the previous year. Real estate auctions grew 12.5 percent in 2006, with more than $16 billion in revenue. For more information, visit http://www.williamsauction.com.