It was an alluring prospect for house hunters accustomed to the Sydney norm of pressure cooker auctions – a family home going under the hammer with no reserve.
The rare offer meant the home could theoretically sell for just $1 if it was the only bid placed.
The prospect of a bargain attracted 65 bidders who lined up in the cold early morning yesterday to register for the auction.
But any chance of a low price evaporated when the opening bid of $20 was followed by an increase to $50,000 and then $1m.
The four-bedroom house on Third Ave eventually sold under the hammer for $1.871m – one of the highest prices recorded in the Epping area over recent months.
Comparable homes in the nearby area had recently sold around the $1.5m mark.
Seller Steve Hantos said he was surprised by the price but felt “uncomfortable” with how high it was.
He and his family had made the decision to list without a reserve in the hope of getting a “record” low price and helping a young family get a leg up in Sydney’s pricey housing market.
The family of six will instead be using the unexpected windfall from the auction to make charitable donations.
“Each of us is going to pick a charity,” Mr Hantos said, adding they had received multiple letters from struggling families after the home was listed without a reserve.
“We were really touched by the messages,” he said. “We wanted to ensure the home sold to a young family, not to a developer, so in that sense the auction was a success.
“But it was higher than we expected and we’re uncomfortable with that.”
Mr Hantos said he felt a duty to “pay it forward” because his family had been lucky in business. They also had treasured memories at the home and wanted a new family to create their own history.
The buyers were understood to be a local couple who had looking for a home for nearly two years. They had been outbid at another Epping auction a few weeks ago.
Agent Catherine Murphy of The Agency, who sold the property in conjunction with Belle Property’s Nick Bedford, said she was inundated with inquiries – all from families and young couples.
The auction also launched a “conversation” in the real estate industry, she said.
“Some agents were saying this is how we should do all auctions,” Ms Murphy said. “It was appropriate that a couple who were in a similar position to Steve when his family were starting out got the home. It’s come full circle.”
Auctioneer Damien Cooley said it was refreshing to know the property would sell no matter how low the offers were.
“It’s the ultimate transparency, you could never get that with a private treaty sale,” he said.
Ms Murphy said this was the only auction she knew of where the seller was unhappy with how high the price went. “I never heard anyone say that before.”