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Aunty at the auction

The Honolulu Star Advertiser has a promotion going on, so Aunty gets free Sunday and holiday newspaper home delivery.  At first, these would pile up, unread and then get tossed in the blue recycle bin, but one day, Aunty opened up the paper and saw a page in the classified section about property foreclosure auctions.

One of the foreclosures in the newspaper was for a unit in the Ala Moana Hotel, so Aunty decided to go to hopefully bid and win a condo unit.  One must show proof of funds for 10% of the bid price, and getting a cashier’s check in your own name will suffice instead of carrying around a lot of cash.

Several years ago, Aunty went to her first foreclosure auction, which was non-judicial.  It was rather exciting, and yet not so exciting.  It took place on the sidewalk just across the Federal Building on Punchbowl Street and there was no shouting, pushing, hand waving, or dramas.  One person was in charge of all the properties that were available for bidding on for the day. Not all of the properties were sold because the upset prices were too high, and everyone disbursed at the end, friendly but not friends.

A difference scene

This time, instead of it being on the sidewalk, it was up on the raised concrete area near the courthouse entrance.  This was a judicial auction.  Bidding at a judicial auction is a less guaranteed purchase than at a non-judicial auction, because a follow up confirmation hearing needs to be held, where more bids, pleas, etc. can be entered by interested parties in court, even if you “won”.

On this day, only 2 properties were being auctioned – the one Aunty wanted at the Ala Moana Hotel, and a single family home in Pauoa.  One man took down the info of potential bidders and checked to make sure that proof of funds (Aunty’s cashier’s check) were in order for the Ala Moana Hotel unit, and another man took down the info of potential bidders for the Pauoa house.

At 12:00 noon, the auction began without much fanfare for the Ala Moana Hotel, and $1 was bid by the AOAO Homeowners’ representative.  According to the fact sheet, the current owner was in arrears for $45,633.38 to the AOAO, and had a delinquent first mortgage of $128,088.02.

To tell you the truth, Aunty was like a fish out of water, but a curious fish that always wanted ownership in the Ala Moana Hotel, so Aunty “raised” the bid to $10.  Ha!

The AOAO rep looked a bit irritated and asked how low an increment could the bids be, and he said that it could be whatever.  She then “raised” the bid to $1,000.  Aunty countered with $20,000 (really being a fish out of water) and hoped – Maybe, maybe, maybe?

Nope, the AOAO rep responded with $21,000.  Bleeegh.  At this point, Aunty knew it was going to be a fat cat chasing a fishy mouse with $1,000 raises, so Aunty did not counter, no one else bid, and the going going gone went to the AOAO for $21,000.

Disappointing relief

Aunty believes that things happen for a reason or because it is just the way it is.  Her attention and curiosity now turned to the auction for the Pauoa house.

It was a 3 bedroom single family home on 5,000 square feet and Aunty watched as 2 ladies battled for the property with their bidding.  It was very civil, one woman would bid, and the other would bid $1,000 or $2,000 more.  It seemed like this would take a long time going back and forth in the $445,000 to $450,000 range, but surprisingly it ended quite quickly after a $453,000 bid was placed and won the going going gone stamp of approval.  Aunty wanted to clap.

An alright & rather exciting day

Looking back, it was a kinda neat day.  Not an earthshaking day, not a life changing event – but it was a first hand opportunity to take a chance and watch some action.

Aunty now looks forward to receiving the Sunday Star Advertiser paper to check out the foreclosure auctions, not just because of the auctions, but to keep a finger on the pulse of what is out there.

The pulse of Hawaii

Hawaii does not follow national trends, especially in real estate.  It seems like everything is super sizing, and getting bigger in prices, house sizes, and improvements.

Is real estate in Hawaii good for investors, or even homeowners?  Hard to say, especially mixed in with the super low interest rates that have been around recently.  We are limited in land because we live on islands in the middle of the sea, though the many new up and coming high rises seem determined to take their pieces of the pie straight up since they can’t go out.

Meanwhile, old homes in nifty old neighborhoods are being put up for sale to settle estates.  It is like seeing rare objects come to light, for very flashy prices.  New people move in with different ideas and the face of neighborhoods change with bulldozers and concrete trucks.

The flow

Change happens.  Even if Aunty stays in the same place, the area around her will become transformed.  That is kinda sad, but also kinda alright.

It reminds me of a quote of Gandhi that our #3 likes to say, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

Sometimes though, Aunty just wants things to remain the way they have always been.

About The Author

Aunty is a new senior citizen and loving this phase of her life. Less responsibilities, less fear of being weird, able to do more of the things that I want to do! Older, yes, slower, yes, but life is even more wonderful in my golden years and I look forward to even goldener ones.

Number of Entries : 376

Comments (4)

  • gigi-hawaii

    Sounds complicated. Glad you are getting free issues of the newspaper.

    • Aunty

      Real estate transactions always seem complicated, I suppose that is why title companies can make money.

      I am enjoying my free Sunday papers, I especially like the Dining Out section and the many coupons and reviews. Not sure how much longer I will be getting free issues, maybe I’ll subscribe when they pull the promo.

  • N

    I was always curious about these auctions and was so glad to see a first hand report. But with all the overdue balances on the Ala Moana unit would the winning be responsible for all those charges? Since $21K doesn’t even cover those amounts…do they end up losing all those monies?

    • Aunty

      Aloha N,

      I was surprised at how low key the auctions are, and how not many people participate. Maybe it is curiosity, or just being there in case of a wonderful opportunity. I did meet a young man who has plans to invest – wants 10 properties that cash flow eventually so that he can retire and have all of his expenses taken care of. Reminded me of myself 7 years ago.

      It was a blind jump going in for the Ala Moana Hotel unit, and the facilitator gave out a fact sheet and was very kind to explain that the bank was in foreclosure process for over a year and then the AOAO forced it into an auction. I am not sure what happens with the AOAO – though it is something like you have something that you want to collect on and you boost your own bid so that you get it and not lose too much to anyone else. The $21k goes to the AOAO, so it was like it went from one pocket to the other in the same pants.
      The outstanding mortgage is something else, and a first lien does not go away, but can be negotiated. Banks constantly sell their loans so the winner of the AOAO auction could go to the bank and paydown the mortgage at a discount outside of a court auction.
      I would love to be privy to what happens to this unit, but alas, I don’t know how to find out.
      The Pauoa house, meanwhile, was a really good deal. It almost looked like the lady who won the bid was familiar with the property – maybe a neighbor or something. The thing about auctions, though, is you must come up with ALL the money for the purchase when title is delivered, sometimes that is within a month. This usually means that you need access to money because it takes too long to get a loan – and banks might not even loan for a property that might not close in your favor. Rich friends can be helpful, or some people form huis.
      I have heard some horror stories about confirmation hearings – if the owner declares bankruptcy, it takes over a year for that process to get settled, and meanwhile your 10% is tied up.
      I always feel for the people that lose their properties, but in the Ala Moana Hotel case, the owner was collecting all the rental income during the whole time of this process. Seems to me he was kinda irresponsible in not paying the AOAO or his loan since he was making decent rent. It is curiouser and curiouser.


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