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Sold! Maybe.

If your apartment won’t sell, how about auctioning it off?

In April, made its debut as Manhattan’s first real-time real-estate auction site—just in time for apartment sales in general to sink to new lows. The company’s held a handful of auctions since then, each giving us a look at what the free market has to say at a moment like this. And what is that exactly? First, that those foreign buyers said to be propping up our sales prices are still out there. (The site gets hundreds of international hits daily, mostly from Europe.) Second, and more important, “the market wants a bargain,” says co-founder Albert Feinstein. We asked him to show us his recent auction results, and had two observers—both of whom sell apartments through more conventional means—judge how the sellers did.

80 Park Avenue, Apartment 2C
A 394-square-foot studio in a full-service building with a roof deck.

At the Auction
Pre-auction asking price: $545,000 (late 2008)
Starting bid: $299,000
This particular property proved popular among the nineteen registered bidders, who volleyed back and forth 26 times before the gavel fell at $394,000. The seller’s on the fence about accepting the bid, which fell slightly below the (undisclosed) reserve price.

What the Experts Say
Noah Rosenblatt, publisher of the real-estate blog, says $394,000 is “a good bid.” He notes that an apartment in the same line on a higher floor sold for $420,000 in early 2008—more or less at the peak of the market, and adds that, if he were selling, he’d make the deal at this price.

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