McDERMOTT COLUMN: Anson House auction shows how far luxury condo values have fallen
Back when the froth was still oozing from the luxury condominium business, eager buyers sometimes lined up to bid up. A post-recession version of that scenario played out Tuesday.
The setting was a standing-room- only Charleston courtroom. The main draw: a public foreclosure sale featuring the last seven unsold units at Anson House, a high-end residential compound near the S.C. Aquarium.
Along with Tides in Mount Pleasant, Anson House has become one of the more opulent local casualties of the condo crash. The $40 million project was built by Wharfside Associates. The 32 units hit the market in 2007, just as demand for pricey condos began to fall into a deep slump. Troubles mounted in 2010, when the developer died and Bank of America filed a foreclosure lawsuit to recoup about $10 million. At the time, 18 condos were unsold.
Three more sales closed by last May, when the bank agreed to try to move the others at a private auction. All 15 bids were rejected as too low. The uncertainty hasn’t scared buyers away. Eight more Anson House units have been sold in the past 11 months.
B of A exited the deal in the fall by selling its mortgage to investment group Anson Carolina for an undisclosed sum. Ahead of Tuesday’s sale, the balance was just shy of $3.48 million.
Rather than allow Anson Carolina to apply its mortgage toward all seven residences, Master in Equity Mikell Scarborough, in an unusual move, solicited offers for each unit.
Bidders jumped in as the judge worked through the list. The action was swift, with Anson Carolina’s lawyer countering in $5,000 increments and posting the top offers on four condos.
Individual buyers snapped up the others by bidding a combined $1.96 million. Before the bubble burst, those three units were priced to sell between $521 and $790 per square foot. Last week, they fetched between $205 and $277 a foot.
Maybe that’s the bottom. In any case, it could be a long climb back.
Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.