AuctionWorks in the News

AuctionWorks Awarded Sale of Residential Youth Campus in Indiana

Upcoming online auction features Former Youth Treatment Residential Campus appraised for 3.6 million with opening bid of $1.75M

CHICAGO (February 7, 2019) – AuctionWorks has announced the firm will host an online auction February 27-March 1 that will include a former youth treatment center residential campus with 23 buildings and 85 beds set on approximately 101.28 acres in Wheatfield, Indiana. Buyers can bid online or submit pre-auction offers.

According to Diana Peterson, president of Northbrook based AuctionWorks, “this property is ideal for a behavioral treatment/rehabilitation residential campus (e.g. an eating disorder or drug rehabilitation or court ordered treatment and education center) or alternatively a kids camp, conference center or corporate retreat. A former school housing campus, it features numerous dormitories, administration/conference buildings, an equestrian center, expansive farm land for hiking and outdoor sports, an indoor athletic facility with a full sized basketball court, a commercial kitchen with cafeteria dining infrastructure,” Set in a very private and peaceful setting, this property is well located approximately 1.5 hours from Chicago, Illinois and 1.5 hours from Indianapolis, Indiana.

This former youth treatment residential campus specifically includes 18 structures totaling 61,155 square feet plus 5 utility and storage buildings (23 structures total). In addition to the utility and storage buildings, it includes 4 administrative and a primary 11,000 sf classroom building, 8 residential buildings (with 85 beds), and 6 support and maintenance buildings. The 101.28 acre site includes approximately 38 acres of tillable farm land. The property also features a fishing pond, nature walks with a ropes course and driveways extending to the buildings throughout.

The property has a suggested opening bid of only $1.75 million. It was previously valued at $3.6 million.

“Selling senior housing and other large housing assets like this former residential campus is an area of specialty where our team at AuctionWorks has a proven track record,” said Peterson. “Our recent sale of Hilltop Village, a 196 unit independent living community in Euclid, Ohio (located just outside of downtown Cleveland) is an example of another very substantial residential housing property we successfully sold this past year for $5,250,000. Using our proprietary marketing database and leveraging our nationwide platform, we quickly attracted offers from around the country from a qualified pool of serious and ready buyers. This enabled us to accelerate the sale of that property and achieve the highest possible price.”

Interested parties in the February 27-March 1 online auction should visit

About AuctionWorks
AuctionWorks is a majority woman-owned business and an independently owned and operated franchise of SVN. AuctionWorks offers a wide variety of commercial real estate for sale and/or auction (including senior housing, industrial, multi-family, office and retail) as well as specialty use properties (e.g. golf courses, shopping centers, hospitality, automotive) and all types of residential real estate. AuctionWorks has over 200 affiliate offices with 1800+ commercial real estate brokers to whom the firm successfully target markets its properties.

For more information about AuctionWorks, visit the firm’s website,

Chicagoland auction house on the leading edge of second home trend

Auctions are not just for distressed properties

Sperry Van Ness Auctionworks (SVN), a Chicago-based auction house, is doing a booming business in helping buyers find a perfect second home.

Sperry Van Ness Auctionworks (SVN), a Chicago-based auction house, is doing a booming business in helping buyers find a perfect second home. Diana Peterson, a licensed Realtor, attorney and president of the Chicago franchise, says that preconceived notions of auctions being just for distressed properties are no more.
“In the past,” she said, “auctions were often conducted for homes in Hawaii and places like Aspen, where people have their third, fourth or fifth home. The properties are extremely unique, and lend themselves to auction.”
And, the sellers usually wanted a level of privacy sometimes not found in the traditional sales process.

She added that that type of seller usually did not want to be bothered with the traditional real estate sales process, and instead wanted a quick sale. They also appreciate the global reach and marketing prowess of auction houses. But that trend has now migrated out to the Midwest, where Peterson’s firm has most of it’s listings. While not the “trophy properties” that are found in more exotic locales, there are many facets of the auction process that makes it attractive to a new set of sellers.

In 2015, Peterson’s firm saw a big uptick in the vacation market, a trend she expects to continue in 2016. The most prevalent type of buyers that she sees are people looking for a second home. In the Chicago area, many of those folks are looking for something that is close by where they work; most buyers, she said, are looking within a 90-mile radius of their primary residence.

They are not investment buyers. They want these homes for their own use. And, Peterson said, going through the traditional MLS might not get to the right target market.

Also, she added, these homes are usually of a much smaller scale than the mammoth properties out West. They are selling at all price points, but she says that they don’t see many that list for more than $2 million.

We just sold a second home property on a lake in Michigan for $375,000,” she explained. “These buyers live in Chicago, where they work, and just wanted something close by for getaway purposes.”

Sellers enjoy special benefits from selling at auction, Peterson said. “Sellers come to us for auction for a variety of reasons. We can offer a fast deal, no contingencies on financing or inspections, and less hassle from things such as last-minute requests for open houses. We also provide, at no additional cost to the buyer, a global marketing strategy that can better target the right buyer for the property.”

In fact, she adds, the house that was just sold to the Chicago buyer used a local Realtor on the deal, as part of an arrangement that is made for some properties. When neighbors in the same development found out how quickly the deal was concluded, they looked into listing some of their homes for sale by auction.

The auction house’s services are paid for by charging a buyer’s premium on transaction. A buyer’s premium is a percentage of the winning bid that is added to the winning bid to establish a total purchase price.

Even though distressed properties still make up a big portion of auction house inventory, many are beginning to see the auction process as a quick, convenient and inexpensive solution to traditional real estate transactions.

Sirk, Kimberly (2016, December 18). Inman. Retrieved from

Is the Thompson Center Worth Saving?

Speculation over the future of the Thompson Center has run high ever since Gov. Bruce Rauner announced plans to explore auctioning the building last week. Its architect, Helmut Jahn, said the building still has some life left. But three of the four experts BISNOW spoke with believe the Thompson Center is long past its useful life... (read more at

Where Gold is Standard: AuctionWorks Lists Tuscan-Style Home In Burr Ridge

December 15, 2014

Taylor Johnson client AuctionWorks continues to make strides in the luxury residential market. After closing on a recent sale of a five-bedroom home in Riverwoods, the firm is now auctioning off a 6,800-square-foot Tuscan-style home in Burr Ridge. Crain’s Chicago Business has the details on the listing in its “Luxury Home of the Week” feature. To see the full specs on the property, visit the AuctionWorks website.

Read Full Article

AuctionWorks is auctioning off a 6,800-square-foot Tuscan-style home in Burr Ridge in its upcoming February auction. Bidding starts at $1.25M.

A retirement plan industry executive by day, Phil Chiricotti is also a self-described “frustrated architect.” The Burr Ridge home he built and is putting up for auction pays homage to his Italian roots and the 1920s-era architect Addison Mizner, a favorite of the Palm Beach jet set.


The 6,800-square-foot Tuscan-style home, built in 2002, also echoes some of the sweeping resort-style elements seen in the Mizner-designed houses like the one Al Pacino's character graced in the movie “Scarface,” according to


The four-bedroom, five-bath property in Burr Ridge is loaded with such dramatic details as carved mahogany entry doors, coffered ceilings, floor-to-ceiling marbleized columns and a granite veranda that looks out over the backyard.


Colors and light are important to Chiricotti. The home's exterior is gold stucco, and golden stenciled designs accents many of the interior rooms' walls. Stenciled zodiac signs and lions add depth to the walls.


“My favorite time is at night when the lights are low,” Chiricotti said. “The color-washed gold walls glow.”


Chiricotti's home has been on and off the market for some time. He has opted to put it up for auction to create some buzz. He plans to retire and is thinking about living on a boat.


Originally listed for $2.6 million in 2009, the initial bid for the Feb. 20 auction is set at $1.25 million. He believes the home hasn't sold because buyers in the $1.5 million price range and higher want more space rather than architectural details.


Diana Peterson, president of Sperry Van Ness Auction Works, is selling the property for Chiricotti.


AuctionWorks to host its largest ever real estate auction

October 28, 2014  |  Staff Writer  |  PRINT ARTICLE  |  EMAIL THIS ARTICLE

AuctionWorks will host its largest online auction to date Nov. 24-26. Nearly half of the auction’s more than 90 listings are bank-owned properties, including 17 that will be sold absolute. The auction includes office, medical office, industrial, retail, mixed-use, single-family, multi-family, and vacant land. Buyers can bid online or submit pre-auction offers. Also included are entire portfolios of properties (apartments, homes, retail/office buildings, notes and lots) available for pre-auction bulk purchase.

“The sheer volume of properties in this online auction speaks to the firm’s success and demonstrates how many owners and brokers are now turning to AuctionWorks to sell their properties in an efficient and timely manner,” said Diana M. Peterson, president of Chicago-based AuctionWorks. “Banks especially have found our online auctions to be an ideal venue for selling their REOs.”

One large bank-owned property in the auction is an 182,000-square-foot industrial building on approximately 55 acres with 30 acres of surplus land in Watseka, Ill., about 20 minutes southeast of Kankakee. The minimum bid is $1.5 million.

“The Watseka property has most recently been used as a sheet metal fabrication facility,” Peterson said. “It has 11 loading docks and 15,000 square feet of office space.”

Another significant bank-owned property is 1600 E. Algonquin Road in Algonquin, Ill., a 30,454-square-foot building ideal for retail, office or warehouse use. Built in 2001, it contains a large showroom with a small warehouse area and two loading docks, and can be subdivided into eight units. The minimum bid is $1.43 million.

“Its corner location along heavily-trafficked Algonquin Road makes this an ideal retail location,” Peterson said.

A unique industrial redevelopment opportunity in La Porte, Ind. located at the base of the iconic La Porte water tower and only minutes from I-80/90 is also up for auction. This 8.1-acre site contains two multi-tenant manufacturing and warehouse buildings totaling approximately 280,000 square feet and onsite parking for 100 vehicles. It has a suggested opening bid of $725,000.

Majestic Theatre in the heart of downtown Kankakee, Ill., is also in the auction. The landmark, a hotspot for Vaudeville in the early 1900s, was recently restored and remodeled in art deco style. The renovation included the addition of new ADA elevators, HVAC systems and public restrooms. The venue currently hosts weddings, banquets, office events and musical entertainment. It features a full stage, a 16-foot screen, second- and third-floor balconies, lighting and sound systems. It also includes 19 office and restaurant spaces, all but one of which are currently leased.

On the retail front, the auction also offers a 6,100-square-foot strip center on Stony Island Avenue on Chicago’s South Side that contains five stores, four of which are leased. It has a suggested opening bid of $585,000. It also includes a free-standing, 10,000-square-foot building with restaurant and banquet spaces at 8020 South King Drive in Chicago. The minimum bid is $456,500.

Other commercial opportunities include a 13,578-square-foot, three-suite brick building in Arlington Heights ideal for owner/user, office or medical use; a 10,000-square-foot building on Chicago’s South Side; a fully-leased office/retail/light manufacturing building on Archer Avenue in Summit, Ill.; a 96,000-square-foot, bank-owned industrial warehouse at 13417 South Halsted in Riverdale, Ill.; a 22,000-square-foot industrial redevelopment opportunity at 5837 South Ashland Ave. in Chicago, with a minimum bid of $299,000; the bulk sale of 11 ground floor commercial spaces in a recently constructed condo high-rise near the Metra station in downtown Franklin Park, Ill.; a street-level storefront space on Wabash Avenue in Chicago’s South Loop; a bank-owned retail strip center in Lansing, Ill.; and two mixed-use buildings: one in Joliet, Ill., and the other on Chicago’s West Side.

The auction also includes three adjacent riverfront properties in downtown West Dundee, Ill. that present an excellent redevelopment opportunity ideal for retail and/or office use.

Numerous vacant commercial lots, most of which are bank-owned, are also up for auction including a fully-improved 1.22-acre land parcel in a retail area in Montgomery, Ill.; five acres in Shorewood, Ill. zoned for office and light industrial, as well as commercial lots in Mundelein, Ill., Port Barrington, Ill., Yorkville, Ill., Blue Island, Ill. and Crestwood, Ill.

Several bank-owned single-family homes will be available, including an investment opportunity in New Buffalo, Mich. for a cash-flowing beach house. The six-bed, four-bath house receives $40,000 a year in rental income. The suggested opening bid is $350,000. The auction also includes a two-bed, two-bath house in East Chicago, Ind. and a single-family redevelopment opportunity in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

More than 45 bank-owned residential lots will be available in either the note sale and/or the auction, including 28 platted and improved single-family lots on an 8.5-acre parcel in South Holland, Ill. as well as vacant residential lots located on the South and West Side of Chicago. Other finds include a 1.12-acre residential lot on a cul-de-sac in Flossmoor, Ill., that will be sold absolute, vacant land zoned R-1 in Downer’s Grove, Ill and an Orland Park, Ill., residential lot.

The auction includes 11 Chicago apartment buildings, ranging from two- to four-flats; and 12 single-family homes located throughout Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs. These properties, many of which are cash flowing, investment properties, are part of two privately held portfolios that are available for pre-auction bulk purchase.

All of AuctionWorks’ online bids are placed by actual prospective purchasers who are registered to bid, and the firm never bids on behalf of the seller. This process creates the most open and transparent online bidding experience, Peterson said.


Auction block for Majestic Centre?

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014 9:44 am

The nearly 23,000-square-foot Majestic Centre building in downtown Kankakee will go on the auction block next month, but that doesn't mean ownership will absolutely change.

Owners Tom and Jared Shamblin, of Bourbonnais, have listed the downtown Kankakee property with AuctionWorks, a Chicago-based auction firm, to see if they can sell the property.


Bidding is set to begin at $699,000.

Regardless of what the highest bid is during the auction held from 11 a.m. Nov. 24 to 11 a.m. Nov. 26 — even if it surpasses the $699,000 figure — Jared Shamblin said they are under no obligation to accept the offer. He said this is simply a different way of selling property.

He also noted the property is nearly entirely leased as well. He said he and his father are simply looking at scaling back the amount they have. His father is nearing retirement. By law, new owners must honor existing leases, Jared said.

"This is not going into foreclosure. Nothing bad has happened," he said. "We are putting it out there and if it meets our price, we could sell."

Among its many occupants, the building in the 100 block of North Schuyler Avenue is home to the Majestic Theatre banquet hall operated by Toni Hassett and Brenda Zuccollo, and Nana's 2 owned by Wanda Warman. Both have long-term leases.

The Shamblins have owned the property since 2009. When the building was appraised in May 2010, it was assigned a market value of $1.3 million.

"We are certainly not opposed to holding onto it. We're just weighing options. Everything is for sale at the right price," Jared Shamblin said.

There are 19 office/restaurant spaces within the building. Much of the building has been equipped within the past five years with new restrooms, elevators and heating and air conditioning systems.

The Short List: Diana Peterson’s Benefits for Engaging an Auction House



Diana Peterson is the president of AuctionWorks.


Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Diana Peterson, the president of AuctionWorks, about the benefits for engaging in an auction house.

Many residential real estate agents are unaware of the benefits that can come from non-traditional selling methods, such as using an auction. No longer just for distressed properties, auctions provide sellers and their real estate agents a number of perks that are not typically achieved in a traditional sale.

For agents considering engaging an auction house for an upcoming sale, here are the top three benefits to consider:

3. Cost savings for sellers. Auctions eliminate high seller carrying costs, because they take less time than other selling methods. Typically, the marketing and bidding process lasts only three to six weeks.

That substantially reduces the holding time of the property and its associated costs (e.g., property taxes, homeowners association dues, etc.). Once a bid is accepted, closing typically occurs in 30 days or less, reducing holding costs even more.

2. Non-negotiable sale. Sellers and their agents can rest easy knowing there will be no drawn-out negotiations on their sale. Unlike a traditional sale, which can entail weeks of haggling over inspection issues, price and other aspects of the purchase agreement, the auction method of sale involves no such negotiation, and the terms of the auction contract are non-negotiable.

Many traditional sale transactions never make it to the closing table, and often, the deal falls apart due to property condition issues uncovered during the inspection process and the consequent attempt by the buyer to re-negotiate the terms of the contract. While bidders have the opportunity to inspect an auction property before placing a bid, it is their obligation to base their bid on their own due diligence and inspection.

1. Convenience for sellers. Having a definite date of sale allows sellers to properly plan for their next move. By eliminating the uncertainty of a traditional selling period, sellers can be immediately proactive about their next purchase. Sellers also don’t have to worry about financing contingencies affecting their sale.

As is the case with most auctions, sellers will likely be working with all-cash buyers, ensuring an easy close. While a buyer is allowed to seek financing, auction contracts generally are not contingent upon the buyer getting financing, and the bidder must either perform (close) or forfeit all earnest money in escrow.

Of course, look for an auction house that provides market-rate commissions to participating agents. Low commissions have swayed agents away from auctions in the past, but today, savvy auction houses know that giving partner agents their market value is the best way to deliver a smooth transaction for all involved.

Diana Peterson is the president of AuctionWorks; she has more than 19 years of experience in law, real estate brokerage and auctions. Prior to founding AuctionWorks, Diana was executive vice president of Auctions by ATG. She serves on several non-profit boards, including The Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute of Chicago, PAWS Chicago, The Poetry Center of Chicago and The Young Leaders Fund of the Chicago Community Trust.

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Hot Market: A Chicago Auction House for the Luxury Buyer and Seller

Led by Diana Peterson, AuctionWorks is at the top of the luxury auction trend, where buyers bid live online for high-end, multimillion dollar properties in some of Chicago's prime neighborhoods.

Photo by: AuctionWorksOpening Bid: $2.395 Million. This 14,000-square-foot estate has multimillion dollar neighbors in the posh Hinsdale area of Willowbrook, about 23 miles from Chicago's Loop. Built in 2010, the imposing Ridgemoore Drive stone structure looms over 2.3 acres of impeccably manicured grounds. Stately, comes to mind. The dramatic interiors span seven bedrooms (the master suite has a private terrace and spa bath), seven-and-a-half baths, six indoor fireplaces, a gastropub-style bar (there's a wine cellar, too) and a two-story foyer in travertine tile. It's intelligent, equipped with Smart Home security tech. Private. Lush. Stately. Presented by AuctionWorks. Online bidding begins August 25, 2014 and ends August 27, 2014. See the listing for more details. 

Diana Peterson has a matter-of-fact tone and unflinching opinion about why last year’s high-octane rollout for the auction of Michael Jordan’s $29 million, 56,000-square-foot Highland Park manse fizzled like a bad sitcom pilot. Remember? How did the presumed Auction of the Year shape shift into the Property That Couldn’t Go Away? 

They priced it wrong, says the 46-year-old president of Chicago-based AuctionWorks, an outfit she launched last December, in partnership with Sperry Van Ness, to specialize in luxury scale residential auctions.  She was literally plucked from her gig at ATG, where she rose to executive vice president and established a very successful auction division, when Sperry Van Ness offered her a chance at 51 percent ownership of her own company under their corporate flag. “That was a very exciting opportunity for me. Sperry Van Ness has a national platform,” she says about closing the deal. 
The young company handles commercial and residential, but the majority of their residential property is luxury. “Luxury properties tend to be hard to value and they have some unique aspects to them, much like a piece of art. So they tend to do very well at auction," says Peterson.  Yes, even in Chicago. 

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. “

Photo courtesy of Taylor JohnsonDiana Peterson, president of Chicago-based AuctionWorks.

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 theirwebsite.


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How Online Auctions Move Real Estate in Chicago – WP Original

Posted July 11, 2014 11:16 am byWirePoints

By: Nancy Mathieson

Illinois has a long history of farm and equipment auctions to move no-longer-needed property. Technology has changed today’s real estate transactions; instead of buyers standing around an auctioneer, they now find and bid on commercial and residential properties through online auctions. From single property auctions to sales of 25 properties or more, online auctions move the high end, the low end and everything in between. According to MLS information from Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), there are 471 real estate auctions going on right now in the Chicago metro area.


The benefits of online auctions are many. “The auction process speeds up the transaction process,” said Diana Peterson, president of AuctionWorks in a recent telephone interview.   “It provides a sense of urgency that is not present in the traditional real estate market.” Online auctions also avoid the pitfalls of traditional sales that often fall through due to financing contingencies. Auction companies always require a non-refundable deposit from every winning bidder (as much as 5-10%) which creates a greater degree of certainty that the sale will go through.


While an auction sale on average takes 30-45 days to complete due to marketing time and necessary due diligence, the online auction itself may only last 1-3 days, creating an urgency that drives these sales. Each property is generally available a handful of days with limited time frames for open houses/on-site inspections. When all interested buyers are viewing the property at the same time, they realize they need to act right away. With some auction companies, like Auctionworks, pre-auction bids are encouraged and can be effortlessly made via e-mail.


According to Peterson every company is different; however AuctionWorks encourages pre-auction bids and most of their sales take place either during the pre-auction bidding period or after the online auction ends, when some buyers who learned about the auction after the fact will contact the company to make an offer.


Look for the number of online real estate auctions to increase, as buyers and sellers become more comfortable with the technology and the auction process.


Nancy Mathieson is Contributing Editor at WirePoints Illinois News

Empty 14,000-square-foot home in Willowbrook going to auction

This 17-room home in Willowbrook, which has never sold nor been occupied, is going up for auction in August.
This 17-room home in Willowbrook, which has never sold nor been occupied, is going up for auction in August.

A 17-room home built on a 2.3-acre site in Willowbrook four years ago, that was never sold nor occupied, is going up for auction in August.

The suggested opening bid is $2.4 million, said Diana Peterson, president of the auction firm Auction Works. That's 42 percent of the builder's original 2007 asking price of $5.7 million

Ted Bart of Ted's Builders Inc. built the six-bedroom, seven-bath home on Ridgemoor Drive and its 8,700-square-foot next door neighbor, according to the DuPage County Recorder of Deeds. The smaller house, which was listed at $4.9 million in 2008 and was taken off the market in April after the asking price had fallen to $2.0 million, is not part of the auction. Mr. Bart could not be reached for comment.

Online bidding on the home will be held Aug. 25-27, but potential buyers can also submit a bid in advance.

Ms. Peterson said the property is being sold with an unpublished reserve, meaning that if bids do not exceed the seller's confidential minimum price, no deal will be made.

(Editor's note: The name of Auction Works has been corrected in this updated story.)

Buyers, sellers seeing benefits of auction process

June 13, 2014|Mary Ellen Podmolik | The Homefront

Auctions are perhaps most identified with either the very low end of the housing market or its upper echelons.

Thousands of homes in the Chicago area have been the subject of foreclosure-related auctions that have taken place in courthouse lobbies or auction house meeting rooms. Most have resulted in properties repossessed by lenders.

The other end of the spectrum is the rarified air of multimillion-dollar homes that go on the auction block. Michael Jordan's compound in Highland Park failed to sell at auction last year and is listed for sale for $16 million. Two years before that, the auction of a Winnetka mansion, named Le Grand Reve, also did not produce a  bid.

But somewhere in between those two extremes, here and there, homes are getting sold at auction or even before the event. Several companies are planning residential property auctions involving distressed and nondistressed Chicago residential properties in the next few months, and a company's marketing blitz can be welcome to  and produce quick results. For sophisticated buyers, it can prove to be an unexpected path to ownership.

The online auction of a brick home on Dayton Street in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, one with a suggested opening bid of $1.25 million, wasn't supposed to take place until later this month, but that home is already off the auction sheet after a winning bid came in before the auction.

Despite its prime location, the property's owner decided to go the auction route after having sales contracts on another property fall through three times because of contingencies, according to Diana Peterson, president of AuctionWorks, the firm handling the auction of the Dayton Street home.

The owner wanted to limit the hassle of home showings and limit the negotiation. That's because unlike traditional home sales, there is no home inspection after a sales contract is finalized that can help lower a price. It's an as-is . There are no prolonged offer and counteroffers, and no financing contingencies. Earnest money can range from 5 to 10 percent, and most of the commission tied to an auction or pre-auction property is paid for by the buyer.

But the different route to a property purchase doesn't mean there isn't still a bit of give-and-take between the  and the buyer, negotiation that wouldn't have happened during an actual auction.

Before making a bid, even before seeing the property, the Dayton Street buyer did some due diligence like talking to the tenant in the home to get a sense of the utility bills, the water pressure and other potential problems with the home's systems and structure.

She also talked to the former longtime owner of the home to details of what remodeling had been done to the 1876 home, and even contacted a home inspector who wrote a report on the home a year ago.

Then, after seeing the property inside and out, she made a bid, and only a bit of negotiation ensued.

"At a certain point, the seller and the auction house are going to say no," Peterson said.

Peterson credits websites like for bringing more consumer attention to the home auction process, and not just for distressed properties. "This is such an easy process," she said. "There's a sense of urgency that an auction inspires. We that to bring the property to market."

Why we move. Some 36 million people 1 and older moved between 2012 and 2013, according to the Census Bureau, and some of the top reasons for those moves were job- or wallet-related.

In its first look in more than a decade at the rationale behind home moves, the Census Bureau found that 5 percent of people said the main reason they moved was to be closer to work or to have an easier commute to their jobs, and 8 percent wanted cheaper housing. Fifteen percent of recent movers wanted a new or better home, down from 21 percent when the bureau asked that same question in 1999.

The results also showed men were more likely to move for job-related reasons than women and that married people were the least likely to move for reasons related to the family.

Twitter @mepodmolik

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Brian J. Rogal
Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.Email

AuctionWorks to host online auction June 23-25 (from

May 27, 2014  |  Staff Writer  |  Print Article  |  Email this Article

Dayton1 BAuctionWorks will host an auction online June 23-25 that will include single-family, multi-family, mixed-use, office, industrial, retail and vacant land. The auction includes two luxury homes in Chicago’s Lincoln Park and Peterson Park neighborhoods. Also, six of the 27 properties currently offered are bank-owned and will be sold absolute to the highest bidder, regardless of price. Buyers can bid online or submit pre-auction offers.

“Auctions have become a popular choice for sellers of luxury properties who are seeking more control over the sale process in a time when traditional sale contracts often fall apart due to financing and other contingencies,” said Diana M. Peterson, president of Chicago-based AuctionWorks. “These sellers are often sophisticated and wealthy ̶ not in distress, foreclosure or bankrupt ̶ and are attracted to the auction process for myriad reasons.”

Some of the main features that attract sellers are the competitive bidding an auction inspires; the opportunity for a quick sale (30 days or less); less hassle (fewer showings and no negotiations); and no contingencies such as financing or inspection, added Peterson.


Brian J. Rogal
Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.Email

Lincoln Park, Peterson Park homes to go up for auction

 - This home goes up for auction next month. Photo by Dennis Rodkin

This home goes up for auction next month. Photo by Dennis Rodkin

A Lincoln Park home goes up for auction next month with a suggested opening bid of $1.25 million. The house is a 3,600-square-foot brick home built in 1876 on Dayton Street. The same firm will auction a five-bedroom home in Peterson Park. That house, on slightly more than a quarter-acre, has a suggested opening bid of $625,000. The auction is scheduled for June 23 to June 25, although because it's an online event, bidders are required to make their offers by June 18, said Diana Peterson, president of Auction Works, a partnership launched in December between her and Sperry Van Ness International Corp. Thefirm's site has instructions on how to bid.

Note: The deadline for bids has been corrected to June 18.

May 13, 2014 
Today's Featured News
AuctionWorks On WBBM's Noon Business Hour  
WBBM (move to 18:21 mark)

Diana Peterson

Yesterday, WBBM's Noon Business Hour called Taylor Johnson client Diana Peterson of AuctionWorks so Peterson could give the mid-day hosts a quick 101 course on real estate auctions and what potential buyers should know when entering the process. Click on the podcast link and move to the 18:21 mark to hear the entire interview.


 Listen to the podcast  

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Brian J. Rogal
Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.Email