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Owner of $1 million-plus Jupiter Yacht Club condo looks to Internet auction
- National Auctioneers Association

December 6, 2006 | By: Kit Bradshaw
Tom Hickey, owner of the seventh floor penthouse condominium at the Jupiter Yacht Club, looks out over the view from his property. Hickey chose to auction the property through DeFalco Auctions via the Internet, versus the traditional way of selling real estate.
    Linda Snyder, owner of Interiors by the Sea, talks with penthouse owner Tom Hickey, center, and Fred DeFalco Sr. of DeFalco Auctions, during a recent open house at the seventh floor condominium before it is auctioned over the Internet.  

Tom Hickey wants to use one of the fastest growing methods available for selling his penthouse condominium at the Jupiter Yacht Club. But with a twist.

His property, which he bought in 1999 for $1.4 million then added more than a $1 million worth of upgrades, is being auctioned. But this auction won't occur on the steps of the yacht club. It'll be on the Internet.

Bidding on the 4,425-square-foot, two-story penthouse overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway will end at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13. Then Hickey, a real estate investor, will decide which bid is most appealing.

"The property was bought as an investment, Hickey said, "although we lived in it for a year and half after we sold our home on Jupiter Island and waited to purchase another one there. I'm selling now, strictly for tax reasons.

"I will have to evaluate all of the offers, since it is time that is critical here. I want to have a closing by the end of the year, and I will probably take the best offer that can guarantee they can close by the end of the year," he said.

Hickey feels that auctions are "a fantastic way to sell a lot of things — witness eBay— and they are a great way to sell real estate."

According to a report by the National Auctioneers Association, the auction industry shows a 6 percent increase in the third quarter of this year, translating into more than $254 billion total projected revenue for 2006. The largest increase came from residential real estate, which grew by 4.5 percent in the third quarter, the report says.

This comes as no surprise to Fred DeFalco Sr. of Boca Raton, whose company, DeFalco Auctioneers & Consultants, is marketing and handling the auction for the Hickey penthouse.

"I've been in the auction business 32 years," said DeFalco. "And the auction method is growing by leaps and bounds. What is happening is that people are realizing that if they list the property, it will eventually sell.

"I guarantee you that it will sell within a month. If you remove the price out of the equation, then you accelerate the time the house will sell. Because the reality of selling real estate is that it is the buyer who always determines the price of the property anyway. We let the buyers price it and make sure they whole world knows about it."

The National Association of Realtors estimates that within three years, one out of three homes in the United States will be sold via auctions, DeFalco said.

"This isn't unusual," he added. "In Australia, 65 percent of all property is sold by public auction."

Every property is different, according to DeFalco, and the marketing strategies to attract interest and bids for a property are different.

Regarding the Hickey home, DeFalco has advertised the auction on television, radio, in newspapers and on the Internet. He has done direct mail to selected households in the North Palm Beach County area, include to anyone who owns a boat that is 30 feet or longer, since the property sits at the Jupiter Yacht Club Marina.

"We're doing a lot of European exposure for this property, since there are a lot of Europeans in Palm Beach County, and by doing the bidding online, they have an even shot with those who are in the area," said DeFalco. Bidders submit their bids, together with a $25,000 deposit, which is refundable if Hickey doesn't select their bid.

DeFalco said that he sells homes via auctions throughout South Florida, and sometimes the buyers pay more than what is expected, and others pay less than what is being asked.

"The market has adjusted, but most sellers don't want to admit that," he said. "I'm a private pilot, and if I'm off a little, there is a stall warning; if I ignore it, I'll go into a spin. The marketplace isn't in a spin and going to crash, but we've been in a stall.

"But most people are still asking unreasonable amounts for their homes."

For information about the auction of the penthouse at 340 S. U.S. 1 in Jupiter Yacht Club, log onto


340 S. U.S. 1, Unit 604, Jupiter Yacht Club.
Size: 4,425 total square feet; 4,085 square feet living space
Features: Two story, three bedrooms, three baths, plus powder room; upgraded kitchen
Amenities: Private balconies with views of the Intracoastal Waterway; two-story living room.
Bid deadline: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 5 p.m.
For information: log onto


In 2005, residential real estate auctions grew 8.4 percent, followed by land and agricultural at 7% and commercial and industrial real estate up 4.9 percent

Overall, auctions of automobiles led the category, bringing in $81.9 billion in 2005, while auctions of residential real estate brought in $14.2 billion.

Goods sold at auctions in 2002, including real estate, automobiles and equipment, and personal property was valued at about $195 billion. By 2005, that number had grown to $240 billion.

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