What to Know About Government Auctions

When people imagine government savings, they generally think of programs and stimulus relief. It may come as a surprise but the federal government can also help people save through government auctions (and sales). Sometimes, federal agencies sell things online or through live auctions to the people. Through these auctions, people can purchase assets that belong to the government at a potentially more affordable price. 

What Are Government Auctions?

Many individuals do not know about government auctions, but it is a great way for people to save money. Usually, these auctions will sell things that include:

  • Art and jewelry
  • Boats
  • Computers and lab equipment
  • Furniture
  • Motor vehicles and trailers
  • Planes
  • Real estate properties

One of the best things about these auctions is that there are different reasons why these things are on sale. The federal government can decide on putting things up for auction due to many reasons, but popular reasons include:

  • Entities want to sell things they do not need anymore.
  • Due to Treasury laws, like not being able to pay off income taxes, the United States Treasury Department sells things that were forfeited.
  • Law enforcement entities sell seized or forfeited assets because of criminal activity.

U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Auctions

The GSA is a well-known auction platform since its website is easy to navigate. There are a lot of listings that show a wide range of different things. The items up for auction are actually extra assets that the government owns and are available across the nation. Some of the things that people can buy from these auctions include:

  • Airplanes and heavy machinery
  • Office equipment and furniture
  • Park models
  • Real estate
  • Science equipment
  • Travel trailers and mobile homes
  • Vehicles and vessels

In terms of the sale process of the auction, you can buy items online. Although the process is online, people still have the choice to check the items out in person at the facility they are held at. 

GSA Auto Auctions

Other than the standard auction, there are also GSA Auto Auctions. These auctions put up vehicles that the government owns for sale each year. This is a common location for individuals who go to auctions since the vehicles are generally maintained well which can include having low mileage, remaining in good condition, and being ready to use. The automobiles that are up for sale include many different types such as:

  • Trucks
  • Vans
  • Buses
  • Cars
  • Alternative fuel vehicles

Additionally, these auctions are common because people can buy vehicles online and through live auctions:

  • To Buy Things in Live Auctions: You will need to put in your zip code and a radius on the GSA Fleet Vehicle Sales website. When you put in your zip code, the website will present auction locations close by in the radius you mentioned. Also, you can look through different options through the sales calendar. The sales calendar will offer any auctions that are coming up, along with the area and date of the auction.
  • To Buy Things Online: It might be a challenge for people to attend auctions, which is why the GSA offers another option. The other option is to look on the GSA Fleet Sales website to find the vehicle you are interested in. The website allows you to filter through different factors like area, model, type of fuel, and so on. Despite the fact that the sales process takes place online, you can still go to the auction location and examine the vehicles.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Auctions

Another federal entity that hosts auctions is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. They offer automobiles that are up for auction at GTB Vehicle Remarketing. On the other hand, as opposed to auctions that deal with vehicles, this is a little different. The auction that sells these vehicles remains in the condition they came in. This means that the cars might be unsafe to drive and require costly repairs. In that case, make sure that you have the vehicle properly inspected by a professional. Also, you need to keep in mind that the vehicle could be towed from the location once you buy it. There isn’t a wide range of vehicle types with these auctions, but you can probably find:

  • Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)
  • Light and Medium-Duty pickups and vans
  • Sedans

When it comes to the sales process of these auctions, there are different methods that can take place:

  • Online and Live Auctions
  • Proxy Bids

If you ever decide to attend a live auction, then you can find them hosted across the United States. This includes all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

U.S. Treasury Auctions

When people break treasury law, the owners forfeit these assets and put them up for sale. Usually, the U.S. Treasury Department will host approximately 300 public auctions per year. Some examples of assets that are on sale include:

  • New or used cars, aircraft, and boats
  • Electronics
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Jewelry and clothes
  • Real Estate

You need to remember that the sales process of these auctions can differ, including the following:

  • Online Auctions: Usually, online auctions sell real estate and other properties. On the other hand, those who are interested usually can look at properties through an appointment or in person.
  • Mail-In or Live Auctions: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seizes property because of tax violations, which they sell online or through mail-in auctions.

U.S. Marshals Service Seized Assets Auctions

The U.S. Department of Justice offers this program, which is known as the Asset Forfeiture Program. The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for handling the administration of this opportunity! One good thing about this program is that it can find stolen assets and give it back to its rightful owners, if applicable. Additionally, the program offers compensation for the sale. Some popular assets you might find up for sale are:

  • Antiques and collectibles
  • Art and jewelry
  • Vehicles and planes
  • Commercial businesses
  • Real estate

Third-party companies host these auctions, which means that the sales process will differ. You should look through the website to understand how these auctions happen. There are many federal agencies that you can look through to bid on assets. Some of these agencies include:

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Fannie Mae
  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Bottom Line

Government auctions are great places to find some items that are available at a potentially reduced price. There is a wide range of different auctions to look through such as U.S. GSA auctions, Customs and Border Protection Vehicle auctions, Treasury auctions, and Marshals Service seized assets auctions. Also, there are different ways to buy things from auctions. This includes online, in-person, or mail-in auctions. However, the method of selling items and the available options is based on the auction you attend!