Prospective buyers packed a ballroom at the Molly Pitcher Inn, but few bid.

An auction of units at the nearly completed Metropolitan condo project on Red Bank's Wallace Street was halted early Saturday afternoon after just two were sold.

ScorecardOfficials cited the reluctance of prospective buyers to meet the seller's price expectations.

 "I'm a little shocked — I thought the property was adequately priced,"
emcee Jon Chipps told the audience of about 200 that packed a ballroom
at the Molly Pitcher Inn
before declaring the event over.

"Obviously, the prices that have
been brought forth are much, much lower than the developer had

Cunningham, brian

Brian Cunningham says he's sure he got a bargain for his $460,000 bid. [See update, below.]

The shutdown followed what appeared to be an encouraging start: a winning $460,000 bid for unit 207, an 1,845-square-foot second-floor unit that had opened at $375,000 — versus an asking price of $600,000 late last year.

But the auction of unit 205, a 1,471-square foot unit just next door, dragged on for nearly half an hour after opening at $250,000 — far below the suggested opening of $310,000.

"You'd be paying more in rent," auctioneer Lori Chipps exhorted the audience. "They go back up to retail come Monday morning."

But the unit sold for just $305,000, and officials decided to pack away the gavel.

"We didn't really see the price support coming in where the developer wanted to see it," Roger Soderstrom, owner of Stirling Sotheby’s International Realty, which managed the event, told redbankgreen.

He expressed optimism, though, that additional units would sell at negotiated prices immediately after the event to buyers who didn't feel comfortable with the auction process.

The developer, Pyramid Partners, was planning to auction about a dozen of the 31 units following some recent negotiated sales, Soderstrom said.

Less optimistic about the near term, but enthused about the long term was buyer Brian Cunningham, the 33-year-old Hazlet resident who paid $460,000 for unit 207.

Cunningham, who is single and disabled, said he'd spent most of his youth in and around Red Bank, and loves the town for its nightlife, dining and commercial vitality. He said he expects more store closings in coming months because of the faltering economy, but sees the resident real estate market as being at or near its bottom.

"I think I'm buying at the right time," he told redbankgreen. "I think the upside is great."

[UPDATE: In a phone message, Cunningham tells redbankgreen that the sellers later rejected his bid. We're following up to see if both bids were rejected.]

Email this story