What are State Auctions?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A state auction is an auction in which a state government auctions off a variety of items. The funds from a state auction may go to specific causes in the state, or may be entered into the general fund, which is used to pay for a variety of goods and services. State auctions can be an excellent resource for picking things in reasonably good condition up at low cost, and state auctions can sometimes yield very interesting finds.

State governments might auction off old police cruisers.
State governments might auction off old police cruisers.

Some states have regularly scheduled auctions, while others schedule an auction when they have a backlog of materials to sell. The auction is often held in the state capital, or it may be held in another city where the state stores numerous goods. Some auctions are dedicated to specific items, such as police surplus or vehicles, while others may include a mixture of goods. During the auction preview, people have a chance to look at the items for sale.

Goods for sale at state auctions come from many sources. Abandoned property from state facilities can be a source of goods, as can materials seized. Seized materials include cars and various equipment such as televisions and electronics. Seizures may take place as a result of nonpayment of state taxes, or as part of a law enforcement operation. Surplus materials are also sold at state auctions, and equipment which is being retired or replaced can also be found for sale.

State governments own an astounding array of items, from police cruisers to hospital equipment. Typically state auctions open to anyone, as long as people are able to demonstrate that they can pay for the items they bid on. Some states auction over the Internet, allowing people to bid anywhere, in the goal of driving up prices and making auction attendance more convenient for people who live in remote locations.

States may also periodically sell off specialty items. For example, if a state is selling an unusual piece of land or a historical artifact, it may be sold at auction to fetch the highest price. In these cases, the item is usually auctioned separately rather than being lumped into a generic state auction. Some states may turn over specialty sales to sales professionals who specialize in handling those types of things. For example, if a state wants to sell a collection of art seized in a legal proceeding, it might ask an auction house such as Sotheby's or Christie's to handle the artwork.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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