Auction.com Makes the Record Books with SoCal Deal
- Aug 05, 2015
By Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor
Auction.com has made the largest transaction in the firm’s eight-year history and secured a record for the largest online real estate transaction with the sale of Manhattan Towers, a two-building office property in Manhattan Beach, Calif., for $96.1 million.
The 309,734-square-foot office property owned by CWCapital and brokered by Eastdil Secured was sold in a custom auction to an unidentified Canadian investment group, Auction.com Executive Vice President Rick Sharga told Commercial Property Executive. The custom auction concluded July 22 and was the biggest transaction in a week that saw more than $300 million in commercial real estate assets successfully auctioned online through Auction.com, the nation’s leading online real estate marketplace. Previously, the Irvine, Calif.-based firm’s largest property sale was a portfolio of age-restricted multi-family properties in Las Vegas that closed for $74.5 million in January, 2014.
“We believe the $96.075 million auction of Manhattan Towers may represent the largest single e-commerce transaction ever, besting the $40 million purchase of a Gulfstream V private jet by Mark Cuban in 1999, which Guinness World Records currently lists as No. 1,” Sharga said in a prepared statement. “This is certainly the largest single property sale we’ve ever executed. It really shows the power of our online platform, and certainly suggests that the market is ready for online real estate transactions to become more and more common in the years to come.”
In an interview with CPE, Sharga explained that there had been initial hesitancy on the part of sellers and brokers to use an online platform like Auction.com. He said the practice has become more acceptable, especially now that more than half of Auction.com’s sales are for Class A, non-distressed assets. Sharga also told CPE that the company is actively courting brokers and are getting higher-priced properties onto the platform. He added that sellers and brokers are realizing that the online process “exponentially broadens your buyers’ base.” Sharga said 60 percent of the assets auctioned off on the site are bought by people outside the state where the asset is located.
Pointing to the sale of Manhattan Towers to a Canadian entity, he also noted that with the “influx of international capital, having a global platform is an advantage.”
Sharga told CPE that 81 bidders began the process for the custom auction of Manhattan Towers, a 30-year-old complex at 1230 and 1240 Rosecrans Ave. in Manhattan Beach outside Los Angeles.
Auction.com has been conducting custom auctions since June 2013, Gordon Smith, general manager, commercial real estate division, previously told CPE. The custom auctions are single-property/portfolio events for high-value properties. Once the short list is selected, qualified buyers are given about four weeks to perform due diligence before the online auction begins.
“We had a lot of interest in the property. We ended up with somewhere between 15 and 20 who registered and were approved to bid. In that case, they need to show proof of funds to qualify for bidding. We ended up with 13,” Sharga said of the Manhattan Towers custom auction.
Sharga noted that the goal was to come in with a winning bid between $88 million and $100 million.
“It came in toward the higher end of that,” he said. “We’re certainly happy with that.”
The other assets sold the same week as Manhattan Towers included a multi-family portfolio consisting of two properties in Reno, Nev., that sold a total of $71.5 million and an apartment complex in Orlando, Fla., that sold for $50.1 million. Five full-service hotels formerly owned by Orlando-based Alena Hospitality were sold to different buyers for a combined total of nearly $87 million.
Sharga told CPE 42 registered to start the process for Reno properties and they eventually had five active bidders. He said there were also similar levels of interest on the hotel properties.
“Hotels and retail facilities have been surprisingly active this year,” he added in the interview. “The hotel market is very healthy and some owners may feel it is time to cash out. I think we’re going to see more large deals in the marketplace overall and we do expect to get our fair share of those.”