It seems the resale of Government surplus and seized assets is the best-kept secret, (if not the only one), in the government. That’s crazy because if you add up all the thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets, you don’t even come close to the magnitude of government auctions.
I conducted a very unscientific poll and discovered hardly anyone knew about government surplus sales other than army – navy surplus store. The only real secret is why not every bargain hunter knows about them.
THE GRANDADDY OF THE RESALE FAMILY
To get the idea of how big these auctions are, think of everything our government owns. Just a few examples:
- Every form of transportation from planes, trains, and automobiles to marine vessels
- Furniture from every single government office in the nation
- Real estate…lots and lots of real estate
- Everything electronic from toasters to cable stretching around the planet
Now think of all the seized assets from the IRS, DEA to local police departments, and more:
- Farm Animals
- Absolutely anything and everything a person can own.
Yes, the government does recycle, reuse, and repurpose. Agencies with a surplus first offer it to other government agencies, then to the public. It’s one huge non-profit thrift store.
Federal, state, county, and local agencies have auctions. At any time you can go online and bid on things, just like eBay. In fact, you can find states listing merchandise on eBay.
There are both online and on-site auctions for the public. On-site auctions are fun. There may be dozens of bicycles in one room or an entire warehouse filled with washing machines, laptops, and game consoles.
Online auctions, like any others, are addicting. You can place your bid and miss lunch and dinner waiting to find out if that diamond ring will be yours. Bids are taken for both live and future auctions.
Before You Jump Into Government Surplus
- There isn’t one-stop shopping. Different agencies run their own auctions for government surplus and seized assets. Some are run by third parties.
- It’s easy to get started, because all instructions are very clear, and you won’t find hidden costs. Don’t invest in scams where people try to sell schemes for winning because there aren’t any.
- No returns are accepted, and no warranties are offered. If you’re bidding on a car, you can be sure the car runs, but that’s it. No test drive, no mechanics’ check.
- It’s your responsibility to take possession of purchased items because the government doesn’t deliver for free. Surprised?
- Most all auctions take credit cards, and some will take cash, money orders, or checks.
- If you’re the winning bidder and change your mind, you’re out of luck. No do-overs are accepted, and you have to pay up. We know what can happen when we don’t pay the feds.
- You’ll find many bulk items sold. How about 800 tons of nuts and bolts sold as a lot?
- The Small Business Bureau strongly recommends if you’re in business, turning to government surplus auctions for supplies and equipment, especially if you’re just starting out, or on a tight budget. Whether it’s a medical practice or a doughnut shop, you can get unbelievable deals on everything you’ll need.
- Some auctions require you to pre-register, and some have strict rules about participating. No wonder, since everything from controlled substances to weapons is for sale.
- Deeply discounted merchandise is a reality. You can also pay more than the retail price if you haven’t done your homework. Know the market value of something before you place a bid.
- Individuals and businesses from around the world take part in these auctions, and the competition can be fierce. The chances of winning a yacht with a $100 bid are less than winning the lottery. But the chances of getting a fantastic deal on something less valuable can be high. You never know what, and how great a deal, you can get. That’s the fun of it!
WHERE TO FIND AUCTIONS
To attend local sales, contact your police department, city hall, or county agencies.
Sites like Governmentauctions.org lists local government surplus and asset seizure auctions, but they aren’t always complete. Many of them charge a membership, but this one gives you a free 3-day trial.
For auctions listed by individual states, go USA.Gov.
Treasury Auctions are found at treasury.gov
There’s a lot to see at the General Service Administration site
The U.S. Department of Justice auctions are at justice.gov
Auction information is at the U.S. Marshal Service site
Those are the basics, but no way the only sites listing auctions around the country. You might find perusing auctions is even more interesting than bidding.
Be sure and share in the comment section below any insider information you have about government auctions! There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to bargain hunting.