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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

JACKSONVILLE, FL-Atlanta-based Wood Partners will return to the auction block May 17 with 38 multifamily condominium units going up for bid at its Esplanade at Town Center development. The auction, which is being promoted as the largest of its kind in Jacksonville, offers one- and two-bedroom condo units starting at $95,000 each, less than half their original asking price.

“It’s a way for the market to tell us what they’re worth,” Charles Barrus, director of Wood Partners’ regional office in Orlando, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s an auction by choice, instead of a workout, and it’s also being done as a marketing tool.”

Esplanade is located near the St. John’s Town Center retail complex between Downtown Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach, while the auction itself will be held at the Embassy Suites Jacksonville-Baymeadows hotel. The 258-unit development originally offered one-bedroom condos with just under 1,000 sf at $209,900, while two-bedroom condos with up to 1,200 sf had asking prices of $239,900.

The Esplanade auction will follow roughly two and a half months after a similar auction March 1 at the Solaire at the Plaza condo tower in Downtown Orlando, where at least 30 units were sold. Accelerated Marketing Partners of Boston conducted the Orlando auction and will wield the gavel again for the one in Jacksonville.

“This auction will serve as an indicator of the state of the local real estate market,” says Jon Gollinger, co-founder and East Coast CEO of AMP. The company specializes in the development and implementation of both accelerated and conventional marketing and sales programs.

Condo auctions are becoming increasingly common in Florida as developers attempt to relieve themselves of remaining inventory on completed or converted projects. Barrus believes auctions are more effective in scenarios where units are sold in dozens of units, rather than hundreds.

“It allows you to sell smaller numbers of units, but may not work as well in cases where two-thirds of a building hasn’t sold,” he says. “It seems to be a good answer for projects like Esplanade or Solaire, where we’ve paid off the bank and the equity partner and we’re just trying to sell those remaining units that represent the developer’s profit so we can move on to the next project.”

Barrus adds that condo buyers respond better to auctions because they can let the market decide pricing, rather than putting their faith in developers. “When people get into an environment where they can determine the price, they feel more confident,” he says.

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