Market Sentiments, Winner’s Curse and Bidding Outcome in Land Auctions

Maurice K. S. Tse, Frederik I. H. Pretorius and K. W. Chau

Online First™, 16 October 2009


This paper empirically tests auction theory by examining how the stock market evaluates the outcome of open-bid English auctions of rights to develop residential real estate projects in Hong Kong. To do so, we deconstruct the complexity surrounding actual auction events, and empirically isolate the influence of conflicting auction theory predictions using data from expert opinion around auction events, actual auction event and outcome data, and stock market data. The empirical findings include (1) with increasing uncertainty bidders reduce bids, thus confirming predictions following the winner’s curse thesis; (2) joint bidding does not lead to increased bids based on pooled (“better”) information, but instead leads to reduced competition; while increased competition leads to increased prices at auction, as expected; (3) the market interprets auction outcomes as information events which function to signal developers’ expectations about future market prospects; but if the winning bid is considered too high, this interpretation is revised to that of the winner’s curse; (4) with joint bidding and winning, the market’s response to joint winners is better explained by concern for winner’s curse (despite supposed better informed bids) than the acquisition of a below cost development project following reduced competition at auction; and (5) the market interprets increased competition at auction as indicator of the future direction of property price movements in the secondary market—the more intense the competition, the more positive the future prospect of the property market are seen to be.Keywords  Auction – Bidding outcome – Market sentiments – Winner’s curse

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