Bill Fox, chairman and CEO of Fox Residential Auctions LLC, calls out for bids Saturday during an auction of the historic home at 501 W. Gordon St. in Bel Air, known as the Brick House. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / November 24, 2013)

A historic Bel Air-area home, dating back to the 1830s, remains on the market after its owner was not able to sell it at auction Saturday.

The home at 501 W. Gordon St. was not sold during the auction, which about 40 to 50 people attended, because the bids offered were not high enough to meet the "unpublished reserve" required by the owner for a sale.

The property remains on the market.

"We will be within active negotiations with the bidders who were here, and anyone else who is interested for that matter, and we believe a deal will be consummated in the near future," auctioneer Bill Fox, chairman and CEO of Fox Residential Auctions LLC of Lutherville, said.


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An unpublished reserve sale is a type of auction during which the seller sets a specific reserve, or price which a buyer must meet for the sale to take place – the reserve is not made public to the potential buyers, though, according to Janice Nelson, senior project manager with Fox Residential Auctions.

Fox noted the "overwhelming majority" of non-judicial real estate auctions, meaning properties that are sold voluntarily, rather than as foreclosures, take place with the "reserve method."

The home has been owned by the Graybeal family since 1961 and is known as the Brick House, or the Kelly House, after its previous owner, Johns Hopkins Hospital co-founder Dr. Howard Kelly.

The home sits on nearly five acres next to the Harford County-owned Liriodendron Mansion; Kelly and his family lived in the Brick House for two years while Liriodendron was being built to serve as their summer home.

The property has a value of $1 million, according to two appraisals performed in the past year and a half.

Fox stood on the front steps and sought bids from members of the audience.

"You have an outstanding home with an amazing history to it," he said.

He noted the Graybeals "began a loving, and I mean a loving, restoration of this property" after they purchased it.

Fox estimated they had spent at least $250,000 on a "tremendous amount of work and improvements to this unbelievable home," such as installing central air-conditioning, upgrading wiring, plumbing and light fixtures, updating the slate roofs, upgrading the clay tennis courts and extensive landscaping.

"In my opinion, in the next few years it will appreciate dramatically [in value] from what you pay for it today," he told the audience.

The first bidder offered $200,000.

"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," Fox joked.

The bidding stopped at $750,000, which Fox said was "not an acceptable price for this property to be sold."

Fox asked for the bidding to continue.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I need an advance in the price to make it happen," he said.

The bidding rose to $760,000, the highest amount offered.