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What is a Government Auction?

M.R. Anglin
M.R. Anglin

A government auction is an auction held by the government for the purpose of selling off surplus, seized, or unclaimed items. Many times, the items sold in a government auction can be bought for a cheaper price than in retail markets, which makes auctions an attractive choice for bargain hunters. Adding to the appeal is the fact that a variety of different kinds of products are available at these sales. In addition, the auction is available for virtually anyone to attend and participate in. The Internet has also done its part to make government auctions more accessible for eligible individuals.

The price for items put up in a government auction is commonly subject to a reserve price. A reserve price is the lowest price the government is willing to accept for the item in question. Should the highest bid be lower than the reserve price, the government has the option to accept the low bid or to cancel the bid and try auctioning off the item again. The trick is that many government auctions will not disclose this minimum price to the public. One reason they may not disclose the amount is to attempt to obtain the highest amount they can for the item.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

In order to bid in a government auction, the bidder should be registered. Many auctions allow bidders to participate in an auction online, while others can be done in person. Once registered, the bidder can place his or her bids during the life of the auction. Should a bidder win the auction, he usually must pay for the items in full before removing them from the auction property. If he doesn’t pay for and remove the property by the time given, he could be in default and may have to pay even more in fees.

It is possible to get several different types of products at a government auction. Some of these items include late model cars, electronics, jewelry, houses, and helicopters. The government sells these products for less than the retail price because they are items that need to be disposed of. Many times, the items are those that have been confiscated in a crime, are surplus, are obsolete, or have been abandoned. Instead of throwing these items away, the government can instead try to sell them to someone who wants them.

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