Sold! For $3.4-million.
Applause broke out in the grand living room of a Quebec mansion after less than 30 minutes of bidding in an unusual open-outcry auction that saw the 17,000-square-foot home sell for a price well above organizers' expectations.
The owners, retired entrepreneur John Hooper and his wife Diane Bradshaw, decided to go the auction route - which means no asking price - after the sprawling lakefront property in Hudson, Que., just west of Montreal, stood unsold for more than two years using the traditional method with an agent.
"The buyer and seller are getting ready to open up the champagne and toast their good fortune," said Stacy Kirk, president of North Carolina-based Grand Estates Auction Co., which staged the auction Tuesday.
The 11-year-old house was previously listed for $5.5-million.
A group of 23 bidders took part in the auction Tuesday, well above the 16 that had been expected, Ms. Kirk said.
The winning bid was put in by a woman from Quebec who wants to settle in the house with her family, but her identity cannot be disclosed, Ms. Kirk said.
The woman beat out a bidder from outside the country who lost "by a mere $50,000," she said.
There were another 10 to 15 eager individuals who also wanted to take part in the auction but were turned away because they did not have the proper documentation, she said.
Though common in other countries, open-outcry auctions for real estate are a rarity here outside of some rural communities, especially in Western Canada.
Mr. Hooper, the founder of Phoenix International Life Sciences, which was sold to MDS Inc., said last week he just wanted to get a fair price for the estate so he and his wife can live out their dream of travelling the world.
Youri Rodrigue, the real estate broker with ReMax Royal (Jordan) who tried to sell the house the traditional way, said he would like to see more such auctions.
"The auction process allows the market to manifest itself," he said. "This is a process that is being utilized worldwide and I don't see why it couldn't function here."
The auction was the first for Ms. Kirk and her team in Canada and she says she's encouraged by the result.
"We have a representative with Grand Estates in Florida who is a native of Montreal and we're working with brokers in Quebec to move forward on other properties," she said.
"There are other sellers who are expressing interest in using the same process."
As for Mr. Hooper: "This is closure for him."