Bidding on a Bungalow

For many people, simply buying a pair of shoes on eBay (without—gasp—trying them on first) is about as risky as it gets when it comes to online shopping. But as ecommerce continues to grow at a rate of roughly 10 percent a year in the US, the barriers between what can and can’t be bought online are getting fuzzy. Part of the credit can go to the ease of what is available for purchase—everything from maxi dresses to music and now…mansions?, a home auction website, is changing the way people buy and sell homes. “Hubzu’s online marketplace provides advantages to all market participants through an easy, efficient and transparent process,” said Eric Eckardt, vice president and general manager of Hubzu. “Sellers can maximize their market exposure by driving more qualified buyers to their home, reduce the sales cycle through our online auction platform and, on average, capture a higher price through an open and transparent auction process.”

The website allows prospective buyers to browse through thousands of homes nationwide, not unlike an eBay search for a new pair of shoes or a vintage album, and get advance notice when new properties are added. When a listing is selected, Hubzu provides tools to check the home’s value, price history, community and compare it to similar homes. And yes, prospective buyers can schedule a walk-through. Buyers can feel secure knowing only licensed real estate agents are allowed to list homes on Hubzu; sellers have the security of knowing all buyers are prequalified.

From there, buyers can place a bid in a real-time auction or make an “own it now” type of offer. Auction winners receive an email prompting them to contact the seller’s representative who will guide them through the closing process, similar to a traditional home purchase.

“The primary benefit for buyers is that they have complete transparency on whether or not there are competing offers and, if so, can manage their bid,” said Eckardt. “Buyers used to start their search at the real estate office, then move to desktop. Now, 90 percent start their search online and 85 percent search on a mobile device.”

Nassau-based homes listed on Hubzu spend an average 7.7 days on the market (in Suffolk it’s closer to 13) compared to the 45-68 average days when listed traditionally. Similarly, the average number of bids on a Nassau home is 18 on Hubzu, as opposed to the eight sellers will receive from traditional listing methods. According to Eckardt, the site lists between 4,000 and 6,000 homes at any time and over 76,000 homes have been sold on the site nationwide. “Our inventory turns over really quickly because we have a consumer-centered platform and an easy, transparent, efficient process,” Eckardt said.

Michael Correale, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Roslyn, has worked with Hubzu several times this year. “Hubzu provides an opportunity to entertain offers online from home buyers and gives me a competitive edge in the marketplace,” he said. “The auction model provides transparency to both the buyer and the seller, ultimately leading to the sale at a fair market price.” On average, the sale price to list price percentage for a Long Island Hubzu auction is between 105 and 109 percent. In a traditional sale, it’s between 91 and 97 percent.

Buying a home the same way you buy a sweater?

We’re getting close.

justine lorelle lomonaco

Born in California and raised in the Midwest, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco spent the last four years indulging her East Coast side on Long Island and in NYC. She has contributed to a variety of lifestyle magazines and websites and maintains a blog, In her spare time, she loves reading, running and eating in her Astoria neighborhood.