High-end classic car auctions like the Barrett-Jackson events are common on cable channels with three-digit numbers, such as Speed and HD Theater. Perfect Shelby Cobras, Ferraris with long racing pedigrees, glorious Duesenbergs, exceedingly rare muscle cars and old Mercedes roadsters so gorgeous that your eyes water cross the block and sell for insane prices.
From our early days as an online police auction site, there was one piece of property & evidence that we did not touch – firearms. However, recently for many states and jurisdictions it has become a requirement, and even mandated, for law enforcement agencies to auction off their seized, forfeited and unclaimed firearms just as they do with other parts of the property and evidence room.
If it looks too good to be true, chances are it is, and there’s a simple reason why. While bodywork is expensive, it pales in comparison to the kind of profit a car will turn if a high-bidding buyer doesn’t notice it. A thorough pre-bid inspection should hopefully illuminate any issues prior to putting down your money. For more info on what shoddy bodywork can hide, don’t forget to read our write-up on nine ways you can tell if a car has been in a wreck.
The auction marketplace serves both buyers and sellers, offering equally valuable, yet fundamentally different benefits to both audiences. To sellers, the auction marketplaces offers a fast, efficient way to convert physical property into immediate cash. For buyers, auctions offer the ability to get a variety of high-quality, sometimes rare goods for pennies on the dollar. Both groups benefit from expert appraisals, widespread marketing of new auctions, and the satisfaction of engaging in an environmentally-friendly way to reduce and reuse.
Do the homework, sometimes even ‘bad’ car can be a great deal at an auction. I recently bought a minivan that was listed as having a blown transmission. A little research discovered this is a common problem for that make and year. At the preview, I had my mechanic (whom I trust) on speed dial and got an estimate on the spot to replace the transmission with a new, 5-year warrentied rebuilt one. The bids on the van were low (who’d buy a vehicle with a bad transmission?), and even with the purchase price, the cost of the new transmission and towing to my mechanic, it still came in way below KBB value. And I know it has a worry-free transmission for the next 5 years. So don’t let even a ‘problem’ car scare you off if you’re willing to do the homework and hassle of getting it fixed.
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"There are two types of public auctions," explains Steven Lang, who runs a used car dealership in the Atlanta area and once owned a dealer auction (not open to the public). "There are government auctions and there are public auctions." Both are full of potential pitfalls. Here's a quick rundown on both and 10 tips for getting the most out of either. That is, if you dare to venture into the auction pit.
The Department of the Treasury has designated CWS Asset Management & Sales (CWSAMS) as the prime contractor responsible for the maintenance and sale of seized and forfeited real property throughout the U.S. Our website is incorporated into the official Treasury site, http://www.treasury.gov/auctions/. CWS is not affiliated with any other auction information services, seminars, or publications, and we never charge a fee to access these auction listings.
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But ordinary folk typically don’t have the means to attend high-end events like these, so we have to settle for the local auction block, with all of its police impounded “perp-mobiles,” abandoned clunkers, and donated jalopies. But regardless of what kind of crap is being auctioned off, there are diamonds in the rough that can be unearthed, and as a bidder, you stand a chance of getting one for pennies on the dollar.
The following link will take you to the sale list for the next abandoned & confiscated vehicle auction. Be advised that some of these vehicles will not be present on the day of sale, as owners/lien holders will have reclaimed the vehicles. You must be present at the sale preview to know what remaining vehicles will be offered and to view vehicle conditions.
First, read the property information and Terms of Sale on the website for the specific property you are interested in. Attend a scheduled open house. Register to bid at the auction location the day of sale during the registration period. You must bring a valid government issued photo ID and the required cashier’s check deposit to register. A bidder number will be issued upon completion of registration. Click here to view the bidder registration form. This form can be printed out and completed prior to the auction. You do not need to mail or fax the completed form, just bring it to the auction to register. Forms will also be available at the auction. You should read and understand the Terms of Sale before you bid. Sales personnel at the auction site can answer any questions you may have.
The government and local law enforcement agencies will seize all forms of real estate. Houses, undeveloped land, businesses, commercial property can all find its way to government seizure auctions. And much like other property it can be had for well below market value. When real estate or house is seized everything inside the building and everything it contains has to be dealt with as well. This can be another great way to furnish your home for a lot less than the retail price. Plasma TVs, Xbox's, Wii, Playstations, stereo equipment, couches, dining room sets, and just about any other household item you can think can be purchased at big discounts like art work, antiques, jewelry, and designer clothing. There is no shortage of stuff to bid on at an auction. People who run afoul of the government soon find all their stuff being auctioned off at the seized auctions events, including the clothes off their backs. It is the government's way of recouping money that otherwise would fall on the taxpaying public.
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The bidder, whether acting as principal, agent, officer or director of a company or otherwise, in any capacity whatsoever, and the company he represents, both jointly and severally agrees to indemnify and save harmless Auctioneer and its officers, directors, employees, agents, attorneys and its consignors, from any and all actions, causes of action, suits, damages, costs, and losses of any nature, including injury and death, arising from the purchase or use of any items, or the attendance or participation of bidder, his/her agents or employees, at the auction and/or on the auction site whether before, during, or after the auction.
Some items are being offered for sale to out of state or out of country bidders. Bidders are hereby notified that a VIN Stop has been filed with California DMV prohibiting the vehicle/equipment from being registered in California. Purchaser will be required to sign an ARB Out-of-State Verification Form acknowledging their intent to move the vehicle/equipment out of California, and an Out-of-State Sales Agreement indicating that the Buyer will inform future buyers that the vehicle cannot be registered and operated in California unless compliant with Section 2022.1(b). Bidders purchasing Out-of-State items must be registered as an out of State buyer with Bar None Auction prior to bidding.
GovDeals is the official portal to government auctions, which range from land to computers to cars. The site's categories include surplus and confiscated items from various government agencies. The rules and regulations vary depending on the participating agency, and you deal directly with the agency after you are awarded your bid. The deals are great, but be sure to inquire about packaging and shipping of an item before you place your bid because most sellers do not ship, pack or palletize. You may be responsible for picking it up or paying someone to transport it.
You could tell that most people knew each other. It felt like these few dozen bidders were part of an exclusive network of junkyard owners and flip-artists who have been bidding on cars against each other for years. Every now and then, when one guy outbid another, you’d see the losing bidder lean over to a friend and talk shit on the winner. “He just buys cars for the sake of buying them. He probably makes no money,” I heard one guy whisper. Police auctions are full of mysteries and secrets.