The Wolf family grew up there. Many people from all over the world had visited there. Willowcroft Farm was a little slice of heaven, to many people, right in the center of the Denver Metro area. Cynthia Wolf or “Cee” as most people knew her had passed on. Her barns and corrals were unused. Weeds grew in pens previously inhabited by miniature horses and donkeys. The three remaining heirs of the Wolf Estate all had their own homes and their own lives. They all agreed that it was impossible for them to maintain Willowcroft the way it should be so they decided to sell it.
How do you sell a historic, nine-acre farm surrounded by multi-million dollar homes and a developed city? How do you arrive at a price for a property that one person thinks should be bulldozed and another thinks should be preserved forever? The estate had an appraiser value the land to answer some of these questions. The appraiser’s answer was that the property was worth somewhere around $800,000.00. Several family members thought it had to be worth more. They were also concerned about the contents remaining on the property. They needed to effectively market and sell all of the estate’s property, in a short amount of time, for its current true market value.
The Personal Representative of the Estate enlisted the help of Rocky Mountain Estate Brokers Inc. The Auctioneers and Broker with RMEB have been conducting successful estate auctions in Colorado for over twenty-five years. They presented a plan to the Wolf Estate to sell Willowcroft Farm and all its contents at Public Auction in one day. The heirs liked what they heard. RMEB developed a marketing plan that accentuated the history of Willowcroft Farm as well as its development potential. Through a combination of print media, direct mail, signage, web sites, email blasts and press releases, RMEB’s Auctioneers were able to get the word out about the Auction of Willowcroft farm in a huge way.
Friday, April 3, 2009 was a beautiful spring day at Willowcroft Farm. All of the marketing RMEB conducted the last 30 days brought a huge crowd to the scheduled afternoon preview. People came to look at the real estate and buildings. They came to look at the antique furnishings that would be sold the next day. They came to see if there was a feed trough or saddle pad they could use with their horses. They came to see it all, by the hundreds. As the afternoon progressed, RMEB’s staff noticed that the large clouds to the west were growing larger. The weatherman said to expect up to twelve inches of snow by Saturday morning. Saturday morning. The Willowcroft Farm Auction was scheduled to start at 11:10 AM Saturday morning.
The Auctioneers and staff of Rocky Mountain Estate Brokers Inc. sprung into action. Large canopies were arranged to cover the massive front yard where the auction would be conducted. Merchandise was moved into covered storage. Extra staff members were called to assist with the storm preparations. David P. Whitley Lead Auctioneer stated, “Old Man Winter can rear his head one more time but the Auction must go on.” RMEB did everything in its power that afternoon and clear into the evening to make sure Saturday’s Auction would still be a success.
Saturday morning came early for RMEB’s Auctioneers and staff. The weatherman had been wrong and Old Man Winter only dumped about six inches of sloppy, wet snow. The first order of business was to shovel the lawn. Yes, you read that correctly. To try to give all the auction attendees a more comfortable Auction experience RMEB shoveled the lawn. The tents and canopies where raised. Hot coffee was brewed but none of the staff had time to take one sip. They were too busy preparing for the crowds, which were already arriving. Somehow, they pulled it all off. The audio and video equipment was assembled and placed to make each bidder’s view as good as possible. Auction catalogs and Property Information Packets were distributed. The PA system was connected and David P. Whitley Auctioneer started to make the announcements. It was Saturday morning. It was Auction Time.
Many people think an Auction just happens. Every Auction that Rocky Mountain Estate Brokers conducts takes weeks of planning. The Willowcroft Farm Auction was no different. There was a very valuable piece of real estate to be sold today. There were also valuable antiques, art work and even pots and pans to sell. RMEB organized and cataloged the auction so that all the highest value items would be sold in the first two hours of the Auction. People would come brave the snow, wind and cold but few people would brave it all day. After the best items were sold, they planned to sell the real estate. When the real estate was finished, the Auction would continue with small items, box lots and books.
At 11:10 AM on Saturday, April 4, 2009, David P. Whitley, Lead Auctioneer for Rocky Mountain Estate Brokers Inc. and RMEB Realty called the crowd to order and started the auction. He sold small antiques, paintings and furniture to an onsite crowd that numbered in the hundreds. Internet bidders from around the country also bid and purchased items through RMEB’s live internet broadcast of the Auction. The wind and snow made it a downright chilly Colorado spring day. RMEB’s staff could see that the crowd would not be able to brave the cold all day. Fifteen minutes into the Auction a second Auctioneer went to the barns and started to sell farm items in a second auction ring. This doubled the speed at which RMEB was able to sell items and made the buyers happy as two very different kinds of merchandise were be sold at the same time.
In short order, all of the items at the barns had new owners. Chairs, dining tables and paintings fell under the Auctioneer’s gavel and went to proud new owners. It was now time to sell the real estate. Willowcroft Farm was on the auction block. Auctioneer David Whitley opened the auction. A bidder represented by a real estate broker placed the opening bid of $860,000.00. Whitley called for and received a bid of $875,000.00, which was soon topped, by another bid of $900,000.00. It became evident there were three people who wanted to own Willowcroft Farm. RMEB Auctioneer and Ringwoman Casey Giddings moved towards the first bidder while Ringmen Kevin Rutter and Calvin Ogren approached the other two bidders. The auction was on.
Ringmen act as an extension of the auctioneer. They get “up close” and personal with a bidder. They let the Auctioneer know when a bidder has placed a bid. They assist the bidder in understanding the process, what the current bid is and what the next bid asked for is. They confirm when the bidder has the current bid and when the bidder needs to place a higher bid.
RMEB has some of the best ringmen and women in the Auction business. Casey, Calvin and Kevin each had a bidder to work with. Auctioneer Whitley continued to ask for and received higher bids. Soon the bidding had reached $1,200,000.00. The tension throughout the several hundred people in attendance was evident. It was like the last two minutes of a tied Super Bowl. No one can explain the feeling the two remaining bidders must have felt. Both wanted to win. Both had already stated they would not bid again. Whitley continued to call for a bid of $1,225,000.00. “Yes” was the exclamation from two of RMEB’s ringmen. The bid was now $1,225,000.00 and Whitley asked for more.
Everyone comes to an auction with an idea of what he or she thinks an item is worth. Properly advertised and marketed public auctions are one of the best ways to discover the current market price of an item. The opinions of others affect a person’s idea of worth. Auctions are open and transparent. They require a potential buyer to take action. A person may attend an auction with an idea of the value of a particular item. Everyone knows the true value of an item after the item is sold to the highest bidder. Whitley asked for a Million Two Fifty and “Yes,” was the response from ringwoman Giddings.
One bidder is winning and one is losing. The lead always changes. One Million Two Seventy-Five was the call. He shook his head. He said no. He wanted this property but he was already way past his perceived value. RMEB’s ringmen continued to ask him to increase the bid. After several responses of “no” and “I am done” he walked off, only to be followed by RMEB’s ring men. Who knows what they said, but when Whitley asked again for a Million Two Seventy-Five, the answer this time was yes!
The lead had changed again. Whitley called for a Million Three. She wanted it. They wanted it. The bid was already more than she had expected it to be. She said no before and then had bid again. Giddings asked her for one more bid at $1,300,000.00 and the answer was no. She asked her again as Whitley called “All in, all done”. Her answer this time was yes. She bid $1,300,000.00. Whitley accepted the bid and immediately asked for a Million Three and a Quarter. It was evident to everyone that the winning bid had been placed. The other bidders said no. This time they meant it. Whitley called for an increase in the bids and seeing none, declared a new owner of Willowcroft Farm.
In four minutes, RMEB sold Willowcroft Farm for a total price, including buyer’s premium, of $1,430,000.00. The winning bidder was happy. The large crowd applauded. The other bidders even appeared happy for the new owner. There were no contingencies. There was no further negotiation. The contract was signed and a closing was scheduled for thirty days later. Not missing a beat, Whitley thanked all the bidders and called for the next lot. There was still more to sell.