Premium black watermelon auctioned in Japan for a record $6,100


TOKYO (AP) — A jumbo black watermelon auctioned in Japan on Friday fetched a record $6,100, making it one of the most expensive watermelons ever sold in the country.In a society where melons are a luxury item commonly given as gifts, the watermelon’s hefty price tag followed another jaw-dropping auction last month, when a pair of “Yubari” cantaloupe melons sold for a record $23,500.


The 17-pound, black-skinned “Densuke” watermelon, a variety grown only on the northern island of Hokkaido, was purchased Friday by a marine products dealer who said he wanted to support local agriculture, according to Kyodo News agency.

The price was the highest on record for a Densuke watermelon, said Kazuyoshi Ohira, a spokesman for the Tohma Agricultural Cooperative in Hokkaido. Most retail at department stores and supermarkets for a more modest $188 to $283, Ohira said.

And what makes a watermelon worth $200, much less $6,000?

Ohira says it’s the unusual black skin and unparalleled taste. “It’s a watermelon, but it’s not the same,” he said.

Friday June 6, 8:44 am ET
By Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press Writer


Seller’s alternative
In tight housing market, Internet bidding gives homeowners another avenue to sale


In an era where you can bid on everything from Beanie Babies to boats on the Internet, it was only a matter of time before you could auction off a house online.Some home sellers in Sonoma County are turning to Internet auctions, tired of waiting for their houses to sell during the region’s worst real estate slump in more than a decade.

The traditional way of selling a home takes four months, on average, in Sonoma County. An auction offers the prospect of selling a home in a defined time period, rather than watching it sit on the market and continue to go down in value.

“We get the seller the fair market value on a specific date,” said Stacy Kennedy, spokeswoman for Sima Auctions. “It’s the time value of money. When they choose the date of the sale, they can calculate holding costs and move on.”

But just like the old-fashioned way of selling a house, there is no guarantee a buyer will offer a realistic bid to purchase a home during an auction.

One local Internet auction staged by Pleasanton-based Sima ended Tuesday evening without a sale agreement. The Penngrove estate attracted 22 bids, topping at $1.79 million, but none reached the minimum price set by the seller.

The Penngrove family decided to put their home on the auction block after the house sat on the market for six months, with the price listed at $2.45 million.

“They wanted to try it because of the timing, to sell more quickly,” said Erick Larson, their agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Sonoma.

Next week, a luxury home in the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa that hasn’t sold for $1.19 million after two months is set to go up on Sima’s Internet site, with bidding starting at $899,000.

The successful bidder must exceed an undisclosed minimum price, known as a reserve. If the winning bid equals or tops the reserve, the seller must do the deal.

“It’s a gamble. The auction will tell you in a short period of time what your house is truly worth in today’s market. It’s a good snapshot,” said Jim Scally, a real estate analyst with North American Title Company in Sonoma County.

Online and off, residential real estate is the fastest-growing area in the auction industry. Sales of homes through auctions increased 47 percent from 2003 through 2007, according to the National Auctioneers Association. Last year, the group launched a Web site listing real estate auctions in a multiple listing style format.

Most real estate auctions are conducted at home sites, with some also simulcast on the Internet for bidders who can’t attend. Internet-only auctions are on the rise, said Chris Longly, an association spokesman.

“We’re seeing a lot of new growth. The Internet allows you to market to a much larger audience,” Longly said.

In Sonoma County, real estate auctions are relatively rare. Most in the past year have been more traditional live sales by developers needing to sell condominiums in bulk quickly.

Sima Auctions, a Pleasanton company founded by real estate agents who also are accredited auctioneers, recently started marketing its Internet auction service in Sonoma County.

Most of the firm’s auctions are done at home sites, but Sima officials said more sellers are looking to Internet auctions.

“We believe the Internet auction is the most advanced and certainly the fastest-growing element in the real estate auction industry,” said Steve LaRocque, a Sima co-owner.

For buyers, the Internet provides anonymity and a way to purchase property without sitting in a room shouting out prices with other bidders.

“There are a lot of people who are uncomfortable, who have experienced live auctions and won’t go back,” LaRocque said.

The Penngrove family figured an Internet auction would generate new interest in their home. They started the bidding at $999,999, less than half the original listed price, Larson said.

“This is trying to speed up the process,” he said.

Interested buyers had several opportunities to walk through and inspect the 3,700-square-foot, five-bedroom home on 5 acres.

Bidding was done online with each bid disclosed, including whether the reserve price had been met.

A successful bidder must pay a deposit with a credit card online, with deposits typically between $1,000 and $5,000. The buyer then must pay 10 percent of the sales price within 48 hours.

A premium, paid by the buyer, is added to the final price to cover agent commissions and fees. The premium was 10 percent for the Penn-grove home.

“We love real estate agents. They might see us as a tool,” LaRocque said.

More real estate agents are seeking training to become certified auctioneers, Longly said.

Santa Rosa agent Craig Saxon, who has sold homes for 25 years, earned the certification and now offers clients the option to auction homes.

“It’s more transparent than the traditional list-and-sell because the buyer knows that someone sitting next to them is willing to pay about the same,” Saxon said. “Internet auctioning is an option. I may do that with other properties.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or

National Auctioneers Association Partners in Publishing of

“Complete Idiot’s Guide to Live Auctions”


idiots.jpgOverland Park, Kan., April 1, 2008 – With consumer interest in auctions rising and gross revenue of live auctions exceeding $270 billion in 2007, more and more buyers and sellers are seeking information on the fast-paced world of auctions.  On Monday, April 7, 2008, the first edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Live Auctions will hit bookstores across the world. The book was developed in partnership between the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) and Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group, Inc.


A highly-successful series of books on business and personal topics, The Complete Idiot’s Guide collection provides readers with background and information on a diverse range of topics in an easy to read, step-by-step format. Twenty-two chapters and approximately 300 pages cover 2,000 years of auction history and provide consumers with information on a range of auction issues including: the different types of auctions, how live auctions work, how to buy and sell at auction, and help readers better understand the mesmerizing, rhythmic “chant” of an Auctioneer. The book also addresses common auction questions and misconceptions. The content of the book was composed with the assistance of members of the NAA. Professional Auctioneers provide readers throughout the book with stories from auctions past, as well as provide useful tips and advice to buyers and sellers interested in using live auctions.


“The development of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Live Auctions was an exciting endeavor for the members of the NAA. Readers now have an ‘inside look’ into the auction method of marketing and a better understanding of why auctions should be their first choice when buying and selling property.” said NAA President and Oklahoma Auctioneer Tommy Williams, CAI, “We believe readers will find this book a useful resource when preparing to buy or sell at auction and help make their experiences both fun and fulfilling.”


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NAA members can purchase this book at a 40 percent discount off the $16.95 retail price by ordering from the publisher’s website at When ordering enter the special members-only code (NAA40) to receive your discount.

However, when I went onto the website to order the book, I couldn’t find it on thier site anywhere!  Maybe they will put it on their site later, but I found it in two seconds  on for $11.53….(32% off)…

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About the NAA

Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, the National Auctioneers Association represents the interests of approximately 6,000 auctioneers in the United States, Canada and across the world. Founded in 1949, the mission of the NAA is to promote the auction method of marketing and enhancing the professionalism of its members through education and technology.  In 2007, over $270.7 billion in goods and services were sold at auction. To learn more about Auctioneers, auctions and the NAA visit:


About The Complete Idiot’s Guides®

The Complete Idiot’s Guides® take seemingly difficult or complex topics and explain them in easy-to-understand language.  Published by Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., the 15 year-old trusted reference series includes more than 450 titles in 30+ categories.  The books are written by topic experts for beginners and re-learners. Find out more about available books at

Order your Complete Idiot’s Guide to Live Auctions Today!

auctionnetwork2.jpgA new 24-hour auction network was launched October 28 and is providing auction news to attendees, educational features about auctions, personality profiles of Auctioneers, and other programming. We urge you to visit Auction Network online at

Auction Network is expected to expand to cable and satellite television later this year, and will bring the auction industry visibility to millions more Americans. On the website, viewers are already watching film of exciting auctions conducted in many specialties.

One is a Grand Civil War Auction, with General Grant’s sword for auction, and General Custer’s flag. Soon, on Auction Network, viewers will be able to watch live auctions and bid as if they were standing on the auction floor.

The website provides “Internet television,” which is TV programming delivered to personal computers, mobile devices, set top boxes, and even your television – all via the Internet. Many people are watching TV programs on their computers already, and this website is an example of how you can watch highly colorful, clear programming about auctions.

When you visit the Auction Network website, you’ll see a large moving picture screen on the left side of webpage. You can listen to the video through speakers hooked to your computer. On the right side of the webpage is the program guide, showing the name of the program and when it will appear. There are shows like “Ask the Experts” and “Auction ABCs” that help you learn more about how to be successful at auctions.

Another feature is the button called “Video on Demand,” located above the moving picture screen. Click on that, and it will open a new screen. You can click on the program links on the right side, at any time, to start watching the video film of Auctioneer profiles (such as about car Auctioneer Spanky Assiter) and see programs about the National Auctioneers Association’s bid calling contest, called the International Auctioneers Championship.

This new 24-hour-day auction network is expected to draw strong viewership from the 70 million people who attend auctions annually. Auctions today are the subject of 46.7 million books, magazines and videos. Be sure to tune in and enjoy!

usatlg.jpgUSA TODAY, the National Auctioneers Association’s newest partner, will launch its first edition of Auction Showcase tomorrow, Friday, March 14, 2008.  The nation’s top-selling newspaper with an audience of 4,367,000 homeowners and 1,296,000 who own a second/vacation home will now be able to preview upcoming real estate auctions in its newest section, Auction Showcase. The Auction Showcase is located in the Destinations & Diversions section in Friday editions, and the Money section on Tuesdays.     

With this exciting partnership, NAA members are provided with discounted advertising regionally and nationally. Members who place two or more ads by April 15th will recieve an additional advertisement for FREE!
To learn more about the USA TODAY, the Auction Showcase, and advertising costs please click here, visit the USA TODAY Auction Showcase link on the members section page, or contact USA TODAY Real Estate Auctions Account Executive Kathy Armengol at (703) 854-5936 or