In recent years, public auctions have become commonly referred to as “the mechanic’s auction,” where lots can quickly become a money pit for novice bidders. There is no guarantee on the authenticity of the mileage on the odometer here, and since it’s an auction, you can’t drive the vehicle prior to bidding on it. This is a place where flood vehicles sell for top dollar after being hastily reupholstered in the hopes of duping amateur bidders, and cars with bad engines come loaded with heavy-duty oil in order to ensure it doesn’t belch smoke or leak on the auction block.
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Additional government sites. There are a few additional sites that can provide tips on government auctions. Guide to Federal Auctions gives a rundown of the various agencies. It provides information about what they sell as well as the departments' websites. GSA supplies information about auction sources. Auctions can be searched by state or auction house
These programs are meant to benefit taxpayers as a whole, but could they benefit you, the individual taxpayer? Can you bag a bargain at a government auction? "GSA's goal is to maximize return to the federal government," the GSA spokesperson said. So they're not giving this stuff away. In fact, the government sets "reserves" or minimums for the most valuable property it auctions off. But judging from a wide tour of current government auctions and bids, there are still opportunities to walk away with valuable goods for a great price. Here's a look at who's selling what, where, and for how much.
The goods you buy from government auctions are “as is.” Look on the “Terms and Conditions” page before bidding to understand the process. A typical auction page states, for example, that the auction site doesn’t guarantee the quality of the product in any way. Once you bid, you enter a legally binding contract, and you need to follow through with your bid.