who's selling

A Plaza-Apartment Auction, Starting at $1

A photo of the living room, which faces the courtyard, has been featured in listing photos of the unit, up for auction. Apartments with park views traditionally trade for more. Photo: Elegran

Sure, resales at the Plaza have been disappointing, but an apartment going for $1? That’s the starting bid, at least, for a one-bedroom, one-bath condo there, which is going up for auction this afternoon. There’s no reserve — i.e., no minimum price that has to be met for the sale to go through — though the broker, Eileen McGill of Elegran, said that the price a few hours before auction was already at a little over $800,000.

The owners, an Ohio couple, Tim and Jenny Smucker of the Smucker’s jam dynasty, paid $2.9 million for unit 508 in 2021 and aren’t in obvious financial distress, Crain’s reports — in that this is not a foreclosure or government-run auction — or seemingly any financial distress. The listing says that the sellers “have enjoyed The Plaza so much they bought a larger unit in the building!” They just seem to be looking to capitalize on the trend of selling non-distressed buildings at auction, a method that, while riskier, can drum up more interest and excitement in a property than a traditional listing (and there’s the added bonus of moving it quickly rather than having it fester on the market for years).

The listings photo shows a glimpse of the 522-square-foot terrace through the bedroom window, which nearly doubles the floor space of the apartment and is a rare amenity for non-penthouse units at the Plaza. Photo: Elegran

The Ohio-based auctioneer Kiko is running the auction — something of an outlier, as most of its auctions involve far less valuable real estate in the state, like the 56-acre farm that’s up for auction this weekend or a three-bedroom ranch house on a half-acre the next. Some 60 people toured the apartment before the auction, and online bidding only requires registration with a credit card.

Whether or not the apartment will trade for more than it would have in a traditional sale remains to be seen. Many units in the building trade for close to their 2008 prices or a little below. Records show that this apartment sold for $2.25 million at the end of 2007, then was listed for $2.75 million in 2019. It bounced around between brokerages before selling, somewhat surprisingly, for a few hundred thousand more two years later.

The kitchen, featured in listing photos on StreetEasy and Elegren, has herringbone floors and high-end appliances — finishes to be expected in the upscale condo conversion. Photo: Elegran

The apartment does not have Central Park views, but it does have a 522-square-foot terrace, an unusual feature in a non-penthouse Plaza apartment (the apartment itself is just under 800 square feet). Otherwise, it looks not unlike a high-end hotel room — there’s a marble bath, herringbone floors, and blandly tasteful décor. Common charges and taxes are just over $3,800 a month. The winning bidder will pay a 10 percent deposit on the day of the auction and a 10 percent premium to the auction house.

Given the anemic sales at the condo and the large number of units on the market (38, according to StreetEasy, though some seem to be double-listed as singles and combos), if unit 508 fetches an impressive price, auctions may prove a popular method of moving apartments there.

A Plaza-Apartment Auction, Starting at $1