Homes fly at high-speed auction

Business,Kaitlin Schluter

Attending your first foreclosure auction can be a bit of a culture shock when you are competing against experienced investors.
“It goes so fast,” said Lisa Rudder, a first-time homebuyer from Lanham, Md. “I got lost. I was like, ‘Is it over?’ ”
Rudder and her husband, Michael, were eager to bid on a house at the REDC lender foreclosure home auction Saturday at the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel. Unfortunately, they weren’t fast enough. Another buyer outbid them on their first choice — but the couple were not dissuaded.
“The backup plan is just to keep coming to the auctions,” Michael said. “You never know when you can get lucky. You just got to keep trying.”
REDC offered 46 homes located in Greater Baltimore, Northern Virginia, Prince George’s County and southern Pennsylvania. Roughly 70 buyers filled the auction hall, steeled for the morning paddle-off with lattes and homebuyers guides.

The first house sold in less than a minute.
The D.C. sale was just one of three recent events, featuring more than 80 homes in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas. REDC held another auction last month in D.C. but with a larger group of residences. Bob Michaelis, vice president of online sales with REDC, said the percentage of area homeowners losing their property is irregular but foreclosed homes are “still out there.”
“In D.C., it pretty much is following the national trends,” Michaelis said, adding that forecasters have not come to a consensus on where the market is headed. “There’s talk there’s a big jump in foreclosures, and some people say there isn’t an upturn.”
Michaelis advised buyers to do their due diligence — housing lingo for “homework” — before attending a foreclosure auction. It is important for buyers to visit the house and even consult a crew of contractors before deciding on a price. Buying a house one has never visited “can be really scary,” said Brent Sykes, an investor with Re/Max Allegiance.
Sykes has attended at least five auctions and purchased one to three houses each time. He researches the properties and was flipping through a marked-up packet of buyer information Saturday as he advised first-time homebuyers to set a goal price and stick with it.
“I went $5,000 over on one house and I almost got it, but someone went up $2,500,” Sykes said. “I was excited and relieved at the same time.”
Buyers came from all over, with some bidding from Canada as auction audio streamed online. Despite the number of miles you put in, Virginia resident Chuck Welch said, it’s worth it if you get the right house at the right price. Welch sold his house and attended his first auction with hopes of leaving with a new home in Northern Virginia.
“If I walk out and you see me smiling, then you’ll know,” Welch said.

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