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NEW YORK CITY-Auctions have come back into vogue as a popular format for selling off distressed assets, as they were two decades ago. However, in the view of Keith Yang, there’s a misconception that auctions—whether online or oral outcry—are “a measure of last resort.” He predicts that they’ll soon come to be seen as a first resort, due to their efficiency.

Founder and president of AuctionPoint, Yang was one of a panel of experts convened for Thursday’s GlobeSt.com Webinar, “Reaping the Benefits of Auctions.” CEO John Cuticelli of Racebrook Capital Advisors/Sheldon Good summed up those benefits in his opening remarks: “Auctions are a beneficial tool when you’re in a market where values are not immediately apparent.”

We’re in such a market now, as we were in the days of the Resolution Trust Corp. A key differentiator between then and now is the increasing prominence of technology: Yang noted that the Internet was not mature enough to be a viable medium in the RTC era, while Kev Rivkin, EVP and managing director of REDC Commercial, observed that more of his firm’s auctions lately are being conducted on the Web.

Another then-and-now difference, panelists agreed, was the widespread use of brokers with local market expertise to conduct today’s auctions. Yang called broker-run auctions “the new model,” while Cuticelli said the industry should be concerned about sales run by marketing event planners rather than brokers.

Russ Miller, resolutions and closings manager for the ORE department of the FDIC, division of resolution and receiverships, walked the online audience through the FDIC’s auction process. “It’s our primary goal to achieve the highest market value at the lowest possible costs to our insurance fund,” said Miller.

Danielle Douglas, managing editor of Real Estate Forum and editor of the monthly Distressed Assets Investor online newsletter, moderated the hour-long discussion. Replays of the May 20 event are available on demand until August 19.

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