CoreNet Panel: Auctions A Creative Way to Dispose of Surplus Properties

ATLANTA — Corporations looking to dispose of surplus space in these turbulent times are turning to creative disposition techniques such as auctions to create maximum value for unwanted properties, according to a panel of corporate real estate professionals.

"Auctions can be used to get a premium for desirable properties," said Steven Good, chairman and CEO of auction and brokerage firm Sheldon Good & Co., during the panel entitled "Auctions and Barters — Other Opportunities for Creative Dispositions." The panel was part of the CoreNet Global Summit being held Oct. 11-15 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

According to Good, there are several advantages to using auctions to shed surplus space: they provide the seller instant liquidity, expand market reach beyond the local region and establish value by maximizing prices. In addition, "the seller can control the timeline of the sale," Good added.

For example, Newell Rubbermaid Inc. — an $8 billion consumer products company that also includes such brands as Little Tyke, Sharpie and Calphalon — is in the process of shedding 8 million sq. ft. of surplus properties around the country from its portfolio of 50 million sq. ft. Four million sq. ft. of that space is already under contract, but the company is in the early stages of auctioning off the remaining 4 million sq. ft. through Sheldon Good.

According to panelist Art Garcia, manager of real estate and property for Newell Rubbermaid, the firm first attempts to sell unneeded facilities through traditional brokerage methods, then evaluates whether to auction them off based on their book market value. "We have an arrangement with Cushman & Wakefield to terminate listings on short notice," said Garcia.

The key is to determine whether it is worth holding out for book value, Garcia said. "Timing is everything. [After deciding to sell], there is a short window of time while the property is still being used that the book value price can still be obtained."

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