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Launches & Releases: Bid on the City Ready for Auction Action

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After some pre-release hype and opening day snafus, Bid on the City?envisioned as an eBay for real estate?has launched with three Manhattan condos set for auction on May 17 (though 10 had initially been promised). The deal is this: Sellers list properties, each apartment gets a 30-day marketing period?including open houses, just like a regular ol' listing?and then comes a furious 30-minute "bidding event" held simultaneously online and at Bid on the City's Fifth Avenue offices. Buyers have 48 hours to sign a contract and put the down payment in escrow. An interesting experiment, certainly, but are sellers willing to risk taking big losses on their investments by listing their properties at tantalizingly low starting bids?

The three residential properties currently listed are in two newish buildings: 325 Fifth Avenue near the Empire State Building and two in West Chelsea's 555 West 23rd Street (you know?this thing). At 899 square feet and a $1,130,000 starting price, the 325 Fifth offering is not what we would call a fire sale. The apartment, #33E, is said to have had an "original price" of $1.5 million, but that's what the buyers were aiming to re-sell it for, not what they paid. The unit was purchased in 2007 for, you guessed it, $1.13 million.

The whole "original price" thing is fairly misleading, but the pair of units at 555 West 23rd Street are at least a bit more adept at creating an appealing auction. A 634-square-foot 1BR unit, #S7Q, sold for $665,000 and has a starting bid set at $499,000. A studio, #N6C, was purchased for $475,000 and has a minimum bid of $299,000. Will buyers bite? Will sellers make their money back? Visual aids from all three listings appear in the gallery above to help you ponder. May 17 can't come soon enough!
· Bid on the City [Official Site]
· Bid on the City coverage [Curbed]