We Know: How Government Auctions Work
When U.S. Customs confiscates or seizes items, they may become available
for purchase by the public through a government auction. Up to date, reliable
information about these auctions is available for free to the public.
How do the Government Agencies auction items?
Items are sold:
- In a Sealed Bid auction that describes the property being offered for sale and includes the terms and conditions where bids are submitted by mail.
- In a Public Auction, where items are sold one by one.
- In a Sealed Bidder Auction, where bidders submit sealed bids and the highest sealed bidders are then allowed to participate in a public auction.
- In a Spot Bid Auction, where bidders are usually required to attend the sale to place their bid in written form.
- The Negotiation Method is often used when selling real-estate.
- On a first-come, first-served basis in fixed price sale.
Which Government Agencies sell what items?
Some of the agencies that run Government Auctions are:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sells trucks, ambulances, passenger vehicles, office and laboratory items.
- Department of Defense disposes of excess property received by the military services from air conditioners to automobiles, clothing to computers, and more.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sells foreclosed homes to the public and non-profit agencies.
- The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) sells a wide variety of personal property such as vehicles, boats, aircraft, jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, and other personal property.
- NASA sells $250 to $350 million in surplus and exchange/sale personal property to the public each year.
What should I know before attending a Government Auction?
Contact the Government Agency to find out:
- The time, date and place of the auction
- Rules and restrictions for this particular auction
- Forms of acceptable payment
Can I really get a Yacht for $1.00 or an Army Surplus Jeep?
No! This mis-information is a sales pitch auction scammers use to sell "inside information" about government auctions. If you do find a yacht for $1.00 it will be worth only
$1.00. As for Army Surplus Jeeps, the advertisements are misleading. These vehicles are unfit for public use and auctioned at sales for scrap metal or parts.
Where can I find information about government Auctions?
- Classified or business sections of your newspapers
- Local radio and television
- Post offices, town halls, and other local and Federal Government buildings
- Trade journals and periodicals
- Federal Information Center
- Search the Internet using the keywords "government auctions gov", and click on the websites that end in .gov