Williams & Williams CEO Plans National Auction, Sees Room for Growth
Williams & Williams, one of the larger auctioneers in the foreclosed real estate space, said Tuesday morning that it will coordinate a nationwide auction of 565 properties during the third week of May. The nationwide auction event is largely being driven by the foreclosure fallout, the company said in a press statement. "Just as foreclosures have sharply increased, the number of auctions is on the rise," said Dean Williams, the company's chairman and CEO. "Both those hoping to avoid foreclosure and those wanting to dispose of vacant and non-earning real estate are looking to a system that is more time-definite, transparent and efficient than the traditional means." Williams has long been an advocate for greater transparency in real estate transactions, something he says the auction process can deliver both for sellers and for buyers. On May 13, Williams & Williams auctioneers in 26 states will start the bidding and continue for 72 hours, ending a three-day, nationwide auction blitz on May 15. Live auctions will be held online and on the lawn in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, while properties in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas will be sold exclusively online via the company's Web site. "Foreclosures are nothing new. My family has been auctioning off foreclosed property since the mid-1800s," said Williams. "What's unfortunate is that auction -- a process we feel is the best way to determine a property's real value -- is primarily being used as a last resort right now." Williams said he would like to see more investors and servicers turn to auction as a first option for disposition instead. "There's no reason for someone to sell their stocks through an auction-based exchange and then go into foreclosure on their home just because the list-and-wait approach didn't work." Williams said the way houses are bought and sold currently simply isn't as efficient as it could be, and pointed to the sellers' control over the final list price of their home. "They have the most emotional commitment to the property and usually the least experience. Not exactly a winning combination," he said. With the market conditions as they are, Williams said he fears the continued speculative practice of listing properties in what sees as a closed market will lead to more foreclosures. "Selling a property at auction before foreclosure is imminent might just be answer to this mortgage crisis," Williams suggested. Last year, the company rolled out an auction platform designed to offer loss mitigators an option in the short sale process. Despite the explosive growth in auctions as the foreclosure mess has grown, there is clearly still room for further growth. Currently, auctions represent only a sliver of the overall housing sales market: just less than 1 percent of the $1.74 trillion in existing home sales in 2006. For more information, visit http://www.williamsauction.com.