Retired Austin tech investor Martin Neath is selling his multi-million-dollar Austin home. And he's doing it in a tech-savvy way: with an app.
Neath is the first luxury home owner in Austin to use an app called "Instant Gavel," which is developed by New York-based Concierge Auctions. It allows bidders to submit offers through their phones.
His home was previously listed for $5.995 million, and he is selling it without reserve price. The bidding starts Wednesday at noon.
Instant Gavel bidders have to register and deposit $100,000 into an escrow account in order to bid on this property, but anyone is allowed to get out the popcorn and watch the bidding unfold on the app.
Martin Neath is a retired tech investor who was an early employee at Tivoli software and now sits on the board of more than a dozen tech startups. He is selling his home to downsize, he says, and has no plans to leave Austin.
The 14,000-square-foot house in Southwest Austin, built in 2005, offers plenty to drool over, from the huge master bedroom to the gym and infinity-edge pool and hot tub. Neath also has a home theater and a 1,600-bottle wine cellar and tasting room.
But what makes Neath's real estate gambit intriguing is that a former Austin software CEO named Ross Garber also used Concierge Auctions to sell his home in May - but he publicly acknowledged he didn't get the sales price he had hoped for.
The Garber home on Pascal Lane sold for $6.4 million, which was $10 million less than the home's previous list price. The Garber home was sold through a live auction, unlike Neath, who is using the "Instant Gavel" app to sell his home over a 30-hour period.
Neath said it was the Garber house that initially piqued his interest in Concierge Auctions.
"I was fascinated by the exposure and price that Concierge generated for 101 Pascal Lane," Neath said in a written statement.
In an interview with the American-Statesman, Neath elaborated and said that his home had been on the market for 18 months, and there weren't any bites. Using an auction process would force a sale.
"The idea of having an auction, and saying by a certain date that this house will be sold, it makes people show up and get serious," Neath said.
Neath said having no reserve price makes sense because it "gives you the maximum possible reach to attract people," he said. He said the Instant Gavel app in particular will expose his house to international buyers.
"For homes in this price range, it's probably the way of the future," Neath said about using an online auction. "Money now is all over the world, and when people buy homes and you're spending this kind of money, you need to be able to reach out to the biggest possible audience."
Concierge Auctions has only worked with three Austin homeowners, including the Neath house, but has sold properties in 11 countries and in 32 states, according to Krystal Aeby, vice president of marketing for Concierge Auctions.
The New York-based auction house has an Austin office that houses its marketing and technology teams, she said.
Cord Shiflet, an agent with Moreland Properties who specializes in luxury home sales, said he listed Neath’s home for 437 days, from July 2014 until late September 2015, with a $6.9 million pricetag.
Neath is now working with Christopher Watters of Watters International Realty and had recently marketed it for $5.995 million.
Shiflet said auctions can work for sellers who want to sell their house within a set time frame.
“But if money matters, you need to have the patience for the right buyer to come in. And with $5 million, $10 million, $15 million homes, that can sometimes take three to five years,” Shiflet said.
Shiflet said he thinks Neath “is doing the right thing for him, where he simply wants to be done with the process.”
American-Statesman reporter Shonda Novak contributed to this report.
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