Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Price of History in Today's Real Estate Market

My sister Martha, who attended St. Mike's and Powers in Flint, is taking a somewhat unusual approach to selling her house in Tacoma, Washington. She's auctioning it off herself. It's a huge place, but her children are grown and she and her husband really want something smaller. They've found that selling a massive historic residence isn't exactly easy in this market.

Kathleen Cooper of the Tacoma News Tribune reports:
These days, home auctions typically are associated with foreclosed or bank-owned homes. But home auctions were increasing even before the real estate market busted. The National Auctioneers Association, based in Kansas, tracked homes sold by auction between 2003 and 2008, and saw a 7 percent to 8 percent increase each year.

“Auctions work in good times and bad,” association spokesman Chris Longly said Thursday. Auctions offer the certainty of a time and date of sale. They also are a way for more unusual properties, like historic homes, to find out what price the market will bear.

Gary Gestson, a Realtor with Maryland-based, said Thursday that owners crafting their own auction is somewhat unusual, because the pool of buyers for historic homes is small.

“Maybe six out of a thousand qualified buyers will be interested in your home,” he said. “Marketing is the key. If you market to Tyvek and particle board people, you’ll be frustrated.”

Martha's experience has left me wondering what a house like this would be worth in Flint or San Francisco.

Read more here:


  1. I'm guessing millions in Frisco. And who knows if Flint. I checked out the auction website and that place is damn nice, but if it were in the middle of Carriage Town I'd guess $35K? Off Miller Road $250K? On the east side...someone would torch it. Too big of a target.

  2. As the most impressive house and grounds that I know of in Woodcroft Estates is shown on Zillow to be worth around $300,000, I would say that Martha's house wouldn't go for much more than $150,000 at best in Woodcroft Estates, at least according to Zillow. The (un)comparable I'm comparing it to had a full 100% taxable value (2 X SEV) of $1,000,000 just a few years ago.

  3. I like how you found a creative way to plug this house even though it isn't in Flint. That's what a Journalism major is for.

  4. Ha, that was very subtle, wasn't it? Come on, she's from Flint...isn't that good enough? They trained us well at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

  5. I checked out the auction website and that place is damn nice, but if it were in the middle of Carriage Town I'd guess $35K? HOMEiA


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at