Most winning bids for Anson House condos rejected in downtown Charleston auction
Condominiums in downtown Charleston that were priced at $1.2 million or more before the housing meltdown were selling for about half that much Monday, when 15 unsold Anson House units went to auction.
Auctioneers from The National Auction Group worked a crowd of about 200 who gathered for the sale at the Charleston Maritime Center, near the 32-unit luxury condo building at 2 Laurens St.
“Don’t let a little bit of money stand in the way of a whole lot of glory,” auctioneer Lee Morris exhorted the crowd, when bidding for one unit stalled around $550,000.
After about 45 minutes of fast-calling, paddle-waving auction excitement, most of the 15 units that had been listed for sale were assigned to winning bidders. But to the disappointment of those bidders, Wayne Thorn of National Auction Group then announced the seller would not accept any of those bids; They were all too low.
“The whole thing was an extreme disappointment,” said Merrill Benfield, of Charleston, who had put in the top bid for one of the units.
The crowd melted away as Thorn urged bidders to stick around and negotiate, which a few did.
“We’ve got condos to sell, and we’re going to sell them all,” said William Bone, president of the auction company. “Might not be today.”
Anson House was built just as the housing market was peaking. About half the units went unsold as the 2008 recession began and real estate prices crashed, then Bank of America filed a foreclosure suit and a receiver was appointed in 2010.
On Monday the well-heeled and the curious turned out at the Maritime Center to see how the auction would work out. People were looking for bargains, relative to previous asking prices, but the sale was for those who could plunk down 10 percent and close in 30 days on real estate worth a half-million or more.
Former Gov. Mark Sanfrod was in the crowd, but he said he was just looking.
Bone said one of the units listed for auction was sold pre-auction Monday morning and two more were sold after the auction, for prices ranging from $580,000 to $761,000.
He said his company will remain on site at Anson House until the remaining units are sold.
Prior to the auction, only two Anson House condos had sold for less than $925,000.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.