When the Mooneyham farm in Bledsoe County was put on the market two years ago, the sellers decided to use an online auction to sell the 34.5-acre farm near Pikeville, Tennessee.
Compass Auction and Real Estate conducted the sale and attracted bidders online from all over the nation who bid up the price of the property to the highest per-acre price ever paid for farmland in Bledsoe County, with a total sales price of nearly $400,000, auctioneer Paige Holt said.
"The auction method is the most open and transparent method that there is," Holt said in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "Any property that is very desirable is a great fit for an auction. The auction gives you the assurance that you are getting the true market value for a property at that time because all of the buyers with an interest are there bidding at the same time."
Holt, a Chattanooga-based auctioneer and real estate agent, has been conducting auctions for 25 years, including 15 years as president of Compass, which she co-owns with her husband, Steve. Compass conducts auctions of both personal and real properties for government agencies all over the country.
After heading the family-owned Compass Auction and Real Estate, Holt has launched a new auction and real estate business known as NeXstep to advance the needs of buyers and sellers.
The new business is affiliated with the Remax Properties on Highway 153 and will be separate from Compass, which has done most of its auctions for the U.S. Marshal's Office, FDIC, TVA and other government entities needing to sell surplus or confiscated properties and guns.
"With U.S. Marshal services, we did auctions all across the country," Holt said.
But Compass traditionally doesn't work with estates even though Holt said there was a growing need for that service.
"During COVID, I completely revamped our approach to real estate and how we work with Realtors and individuals," she said.
In the tight housing market in recent years, multiple bidders would often make offers for a particular property, often on the same day, even under the traditional real estate sales model, Holt said. The auction method gives sellers, especially estate trustees, a key advantage by letting them know exactly what day their property will sell, and commissions can be only half of what is paid under the traditional real estate selling method, Holt said.
At NeXstep, Holt will work with other agents and offer broker participation, she said.
"It really opens the world of real estate in our area," she said.
While auctions have been used the most in Chattanooga for distressed, foreclosed or government-seized properties, Holt said auctions are also used around the globe to sell the most luxurious and prized properties.
"The finest assets in the world that are in the most demand are sold by auction," Holt said, citing how Sotheby's and other high-end auction businesses sell prized jewelry and paintings. "Why would real estate be any different?"