The government often comes into the possession of equipment, land, or other valuable materials it does not need, whether by seizure or surplus. When it does it will auction them off in what is referred to as a GSA Auction, or a government auction. Items are live-auctioned online for a set period of time, after which the highest bidder wins the item being auctioned.
There are two different types of government auctions; Federal government auctions, and state or local government auctions. They work in the same way; the difference is how the property is taken (whether seized by the Federal government or a local government) and how often they occur. Federal government auctions are happening constantly, while local and state auctions are less frequent.
For a listing of state auctions, check http://www.usa.gov/shopping/auctions/surplus.shtml. You can bid on all items, Federal or State auctioned, on govsales.gov.
Where the Items Come From
There are many reasons an item may come up for auction by the government. The first reason is by seizure. If a person does not pay their debts or taxes on a mortgage, or on anything else, the government may seize that property, after which they will sell it at auction. Another possibility is a simple surplus. Oftentimes the government ends up with more inventory than it needs to accomplish anything. If that is the case, it may get rid of the surplus by government auction.
How You Purchase Something At Auction
The process of buying something at government auction is actually a relatively simple task. Follow these steps:
- The government now has a website where you can participate in auctions online, making the process much simpler. Head to http://www.govsales.gov/govsales/govsales/
- You will be taken to a page with categories of items that you can bid on. Peruse the list, or, if you already know what you are looking for, find it within the list. You can search by state, by category, or you can just find an interesting item on the front page.
- In order to bid, you will have to register, with your name and email address. You’ll need to attach a credit card to your account, so you can pay.
- The winner of the bidding is whomever has placed the largest bid when time has expired on the auction. You can see how much time is left under the photo of the item, it should be in red. Most auctions last several weeks, though the amount of time will vary.