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First auction in fifteen years in John's Island offers 'really good deal'

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS, (Week of April 18, 2013)
Photo: The home on Gem Island that will be auctioned April 27.

Someone could get a great buy when the first home auction in John’s Island in more than 15 years takes place April 27. The 10,700-square-foot waterfront home at 170 Loggerhead Point on Gem Island is being offered with a reserve price of $4.25 million, exactly half of what owner James Dobbs paid in 2007.

“We only accept properties for auction where the buyer can get a really good deal,” says Trayor Lesnock, president of Platinum Luxury Auctions, the Miami-based company handling the sale. “People won’t pay attention unless the property is well-priced.”

Lesnock says his company is successful in 85 percent of its auctions and handles approximately $65 million in sales each year, with 50 percent of its business in Florida.

“The promotion for this home is international in scale,” he says. “We are doing heavy print advertising in The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times as well as in local publications. All of the print advertising has an associated digital side. We're also running television ads on the major financial networks.”

Lesnock and his associates mine their existing client lists for prospects and reach out to local brokers to let them know about the sale and encourage them to bring clients who may be a good fit for the home.  "We do a lot of old-fashioned handshaking,” he says.

Since John’s Island is a gated community, people who want to see the property prior to the live on-site auction have to make an appointment.

Lesnock says that adds to the logistical challenges of promoting the house and putting on the auction, but has not caused any significant problems. “People who are going spend that kind of money are not put off by having to make arrangements ahead of time to tour the house."

Platinum Luxury Auctions handles homes that are offered for $1 million or more, but Lesnock says most properties he auctions are $2.5 million and up.

“The higher-priced properties tend to perform better, because you are in an arena where all the players are very flush and can afford the game.”

The 6-bedroom, 7½-bath Gem Island home sits on a 5-acre lot on a quiet cove in the Indian River Lagoon with easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway. Two acres are zoned single-family residential; the other three acres are wetland. 

The auction is not part of a bank foreclosure or any other kind of distressed sale. Knowledgeable sources say the owner has simply moved on to another place and wants the property off his hands.

Dobbs first listed the house for $9.65 million in October 2010. He dropped the price to $8.9 million a year later and then to $7.9 million in 2012.

When the property did not sell at that price, he got in touch with Lesnock.

After visiting and evaluating the community and property, Platinum presented Dobbs with a marketing plan and timeline for the sale and agreed on the reserve price of $4.25 million, meaning the house will not be sold for less.

Lesnock says 20 potential buyers have visited the house in the past several weeks and that there have been 75 “bona fide” inquires.

Anyone who wants to bid on the property has to register and put up $250,000 in refundable good-faith money.

“That is one way we qualify buyers,” Lesnock says.

So far one bidder has signed up and six brokers have notified Platinum they have clients who are interested in the property.

“That is about what we expect at this point,” Lesnock says. “Most bidders don’t sign up until right before the auction. That is just the way it is in luxury real estate. We told the buyer to expect between four and seven bidders.

“With that many people competing for the property, the seller can feel confident he got what was a fair price on the day of the sale.”

If there is a bid of $4.25 million or above, the winning bidder will be required to immediately put down a non-refundable 10-percent deposit. Closing is 30 days after the auction.

The house is available for viewing 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until the day of the auction.

Contact information and a detailed property brochure can be found at