Inside Prized Luxury Listings from Chicago’s AuctionWorks

Known more for understatement than the screeching ostentation of Los Angeles or San Francisco or $100 million trophy homes in New York (the tawdry, the tacky and the multimillion dollar mistake all dwell here, but they’re the exception to the tastefully-wealthy rule), Chicago has a surprisingly robust luxury market, and with good reason.  In those glittery coastal locales you actually have fewer choices.

“We have a very expansive downtown and Lincoln Park with luxury residences throughout. Some of the western suburbs have very luxurious properties, like Willowbrook-Hinsdale,” where AuctionWorks is auctioning a  7-bedroom, 14,000-square-foot property on 2.3 acres, slated to begin Aug. 25, with an opening bid just under $3 million. In the North Shore, they have a Sept. 22 auction on a  5-bedroom in Riverwoods. Suggested opening bid: $900,000. “I think we just have more available. They have scarcity; we don’t. “

The AuctionWorks business model has a savvy tech edge. Not only do they target advertising for each property with a campaign reach including the  Wall Street Journal or Chicago’s Crain’s, they e-blast brokers and subscribers of real estate journals such as Midwest Real Estate News and the  Illinois Real Estate Journal. “We’ll send out an e-blast to 32,000 people at a time for a property in an upcoming auction,” all at their own expense.

“We spend a lot of effort and our own money promoting the properties.  So a lot of our clients come to us because they’re reading about a property that we’re advertising for auction. They see that it’s a luxury property. And they see that it’s sold and we achieved a great price, because we publicize all of that as well.  We quite frequently get contacted by people who have just read about us.” In any given auction they might be touching three or four hundred thousandpeople with these e-blasts.  That’s a long electronic arm that goes viral making AuctionWorks’ marketing reach comprehensive, strategic and formidable.

Though most of their auctions are held online, they do call for pre-auction bids. And if the property is priced just right, “we will actually pull it from the auction and move forward with the high bidder in the pre-auction period.” That generally happens about a week to ten days before the auction is scheduled to run online. In this scenario, a property can sell very quickly.

“For example, we sold a Lincoln Park house in our past auction that had a suggested opening bid — so that’s not publishing the reserve — of $1.250 million,” she says, letting the number sink in. “And the client had told us that his reserve was $1.325 million. We ended up achieving $1.425 million in the pre-auctioning bidding.” A profit you shake hands with. (Buyer’s pay a 5 percent buyer’s premium.)

“It’s one of the reasons people come to us with their luxury dwellings: They want a fast result.” Perhaps Michael Jordan’s people should have called Peterson — first.

Before you jump in, learn more about  AuctionWorks and view their current listings at their website.