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How To Cash In On The Boom In Auctions

One area of the economy that is booming is auctions. Of course, with the spike in foreclosures there are countless auctions of real estate occurring around the country. There are also auctions related to repossessed vehicles, unpaid storage locker fees, property seized by state and federal governments, and also many people just deciding to sell personal items to raise cash.

1. Bid 4 Assets

Bid 4 Assets offers a wide variety of categories, including real estate, vehicles, coins, collectibles, financial instruments, jewelry, and memorabilia.  From the Bid 4 Assets website:

“Government agencies and an extensive community of private sellers rely on Bid4Assets to connect with buyers interested in unique personal property and real estate. Auctions have included everything from one-of-a-kind historic cars, luxurious estates and spectacular jewelry to the Presidential Yacht Sequoia and exotic cars.

Government auctions have been a specialty at Bid4Assets since our early days when we began helping the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) sell forfeited assets ranging from cars, boats and planes to real estate, artwork, jewelry and much more. Today numerous federal, state and county government agencies partner with Bid4Assets to sell a wide variety of forfeited, surplus, tax-defaulted and foreclosed property online. In addition to the U.S. Marshals Service, federal and state agencies that hold auctions on Bid4Assets include the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Department of Energy, the State of New Jersey and more than 40 counties nationwide.”

What was especially interesting to me was the number of real estate auctions with starting bids of one dollar and no minimum reserve price.  During these tough times, if you have some money saved up this may be a unique opportunity in history to purchase assets for pennies on the dollar.  The site allows visitors to watch auctions in real time. They also have an easy to use search feature, allowing a user to quickly locate items they would be interested in bidding on.

2.  Shop Goodwill

Shop Goodwill  is a service of Goodwill Industries.  Yes, the same nonprofit organization in your town that collects donations of used clothes, furniture, and household items. The idea is a great one for the organization. Participating Goodwill locations around the country can list of selected items for sale online. As the buyer, you need not be concerned with which Goodwill location the item is located. As an auction winner, you simply pick up the associated shipping costs and in three or four days your item arrives at your door step. Take a few minutes and you can review the items being auctioned at shop Goodwill and you will find everything from antiques to musical instruments. About a year ago my son informed us (at the last minute) that he needed a very high-end calculator for one of his math classes. Well, we did not have $100 extra laying around to spend for this gadget. We ended up at the Goodwill website and were able to buy a used one for less than $50. We received the item in about three days, the calculator work just fine, and we saved about $50. Of course, with the holidays just around the corner many of us will be in the market to purchase gifts for friends and family.  If you are looking for a unique gift item, this may be just the place to start your search.

3.  Government Services Administration Auctions 

I planned to take just a few minutes and visit GSA Auctions and found that I quickly lost track of time and ended up spending more than two hours fascinated with the items being auctioned at this site.  Everything from computers to sailboats to executive jets, (and everything in between) for auction at the GSA site.  An excellent government website with links to a wide variety of other government auctions site is USA.Gov.

4.  Finding Auctions In Your Area

– Most municipalities conduct auctions throughout the year.  Pick up the phone and contact your local county and city office and inquire about being placed on the mailing list for auction notices. 

– Foreclosure auctions are conducted by local counties.  These are well advertised and can provide a real bargain if you have cash to purchase a home.  In the old days, these auctions would take place on the steps of the courthouse.  Now, most counties hold foreclosure auctions inside their county offices.

– Most auctions are required to be advertised and will appear in the legal section of your local newspaper, that is something to keep an eye on if you are hunting for local auctions. 

– Contact local auctioneers and ask to be added to their mailing lists.  A great example of this would include the liquidation of estates and property that is sold due to a bankruptcy. 

– Contact local storage warehouses and inquire about their monthly auction schedule.  In most parts of the country, if a person doesn’t pay their monthly rent on a storage locker, the contents may be sold at auction.  These auctions are very unique, since the winner is responsible to empty the entire storage unit.  In many cases, (due to the limited inspection time) bidders may not even fully realize what they are bidding on until they unload the contents of the storage locker they “won.”  This “pot luck” approach may seem risky, but since the bids tend to be very low at these auctions, it is very likely that you will end up with your money’s worth and then some.

Have you ever purchased something through an auction?  Please use the comments section below to share your story.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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