SOURCE: Woltz & Associates

Woltz & Associates

March 10, 2011 10:46 ET

Auction Activity May Mark Economic Turnaround

ROANOKE, VA--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) - In three decades of selling real estate at auction, Jim Woltz has seen a lot of ups and downs in the economy. And based on recent auction results, he believes the economy bottomed out last spring and summer and is poised for a strong year in 2011. 

"Real estate auctions are a good indicator of where we are in the business cycle, and based on our results in 2010, I think we bottomed out last year and the economy is on the mend," said Woltz, president of Woltz & Associates, the Roanoke, Va.-based auction company that has been one of the nation's top 10 auctioneers of land for the past two years.

"We saw excellent results across the board last year, with strong bidding on types of properties that had been weak for the last few years," said Woltz. "One encouraging sign is the growth in demand for timberland and recreational land, which tells me that money is coming off the sidelines. From a ranch in Rifle, Colo., to a 2900-acre historic farm in Virginia, we had more bidders and better sales results than in the last several years. People are willing to take some risks. Individuals are buying land for personal hunting and fishing retreats as well as for future investment land tracts -- properties that are difficult to sell in a recession."

Woltz's two-day sale of more than 4,900 acres of timberland and recreational property in Georgia marked a turning point, Woltz said. "That was a huge amount of land to sell in an uncertain economy, and we sold it for about $6.4 million, with rooms full of active bidders both days. That showed me there is a lot of latent buying power, and enough optimism to bring new players into the market," he said.

A second indicator, he said, was the company's success in selling commercial properties, development land and even home sites for future building.

"During the credit crisis and real estate slump, building came to a halt, so naturally there was no demand for land to develop or lots on which to build. Businesses were closing, so commercial buildings sat empty. But we had strong turnouts and competitive bidding for lots, land, retail properties and homes. That tells me that people are ready to start building homes, starting and expanding new businesses or at least preparing for what looks like a much brighter future. These are all positive signs," said Woltz.

In a single day in October, the company sold a group of properties in Virginia's Nelson and Amherst Counties for $7.68 million.

"Much of this was agricultural land, which had been strong throughout the recession. But these properties also included waterfront and recreational land. We had a strong mix of bidders from the local area as well as from out of state. In short, these results reflect genuine demand and underlying strength in the economy," said Woltz.

The recent successes, Woltz said, are enticing other property owners into the marketplace.

"There's a backlog of property owners who want to sell but have been waiting for a better environment. This is it. Now they can sell properties they've been sitting on, and that's making the phone ring," said Woltz.

Woltz & Associates, based in Roanoke, Va., is a leading auctioneer of land, commercial properties and residential properties, with an emphasis on the Mid-Atlantic region. More auction information.

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