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Housing Bulletin: A Big Auction of City and Suburban Homes

On four days in late June, 134 single-family homes, townhouses, and condos in six developments scattered around Chicago and the suburbs will go up for auction. These are not foreclosures but developer closeouts—meaning that the developers have unsold units they want to move…

On four days in late June, 134 single-family homes, townhouses, and condos in six developments scattered around Chicago and the suburbs will go up for auction. These are not foreclosures but developer closeouts—meaning that the developers have unsold units they want to move.

None of the developers is in foreclosure, says Rick Levin, the auctioneer whose company will sell off the properties. That means the developers should be around to complete any finishes and, Levin says, potentially build out any uncompleted plans for the developments.

Open houses start this Sunday at all the developments named below. If you are interested in buying a home at auction, be sure to study up not only on the properties that are being sold, but also on how to buy at auction. You can get this information both at the auctioneer’s site and elsewhere.

At the auctions, which will be conducted by Rick Levin & Associates from June 23rd to June 27th at various locations, about a fourth of the properties are guaranteed to be sold “absolute,” or at whatever price the auction establishes. That means there will be no minimum and no chance that the seller will reject the deal.

While there is no preordained relationship between original prices and auction prices—you can’t anticipate whether properties at auction will go for, say, 60 percent of the original price—it is very likely that buyers will walk away from these sales with deep discounts. The developers originally set their prices in a rising market; now, in this housing downturn, they are acknowledging that they have to let these properties go for considerably less.

The properties at auction include 46 homes at the Enclave at Galewood Crossings, which is situated in North Austin on Chicago’s Far West Side. Built on a rare large tract of undeveloped land within city limits (the site was once a rail yard), the development is like a little self-contained suburban bubble of houses, two-flats, and condos surrounded by an urban neighborhood dominated by old homes and industrial buildings. Single-family homes there were originally selling for around $600,000; the suggested opening bid at auction is $185,000—but keep in mind, that’s only suggested.Auctioneers will put six houses on the block, two of them at absolute auction. Back in 2006, the developers had planned to build 57 houses. Because the two-flats and single-family homes look alike, I couldn’t tell how many houses were actually built (and Rick Levin wouldn’t say).

Other Enclave properties up for auction include 17 townhouses and 23 condos (respectively, four and six at absolute auction). The townhouses were originally priced up to $399,000, and the condos up to $359,900. There were 76 townhouses planned and 54 condos.

Also up for auction are homes at Fountain Square in Lombard, Village Station in Grayslake, Victoria Park in Libertyville, The Emerson in Mount Prospect, and Metro Place in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood on Chicago’s Near West Side. A few foreclosed properties will also be auctioned: four condos in Schiller Park, a vacant home site in Lincolnshire, and a piece of commercial land in the city.

If you plan to attend and bid on a home for yourself (not as an investment), let me know. I’d like to come along and see how you make out.

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