“Sealed bid”?

I wonder… recently two buildings were marketed in the urban Seattle area by an out of area company not known for Seattle area brokerage work. The properties were owned by a bank via their foreclosure on the condo convertor so I could only conclude that the banker and the broker must be friendly. In any case, I spent many hours and days helping a client evaluate the market for the units as apartments (both buildings were empty, one of them still in need of a great deal of re-construction work) as well as bringing in a general contractor and obtaining bids, etc. all of which was known in advance to be risky since the properties were being marketed without an asking price. We took some comfort in the representation by the sellers’ agent that any and all bids would be sealed and not shopped.

I have come to learn that there were at least 15 bidders, including my client. I was recently told that the winning bidder turns out to be the broker! After 25 years in the business you would think I would see this one coming but I still get fooled sometimes. I am shocked that a bank (that I hear on the street is in dire straits) would stoop so low as to be a part of this type of behavior but, who knows, maybe one of the bankers is in on the deal too. After all, how could an above reproach bank do anything disreputable? Oh wait, I am showing my naiveté yet again.

I know of another bidder who learned of this as well and said “you only get to make your reputation once”. I think this is simply yet another example of why I should only do business (or at least try to) with people of known good character. Doing otherwise is simply my foolishness.