Not every person who drives a luxury car is wealthy. The guy next door who drives a BMW or Mercedes may have received the car as a gift, inherited it, or won it in a bet or a raffle.
If you don’t have any rich relatives likely to give or leave you a Jaguar, or if you don’t fancy your luck in games of chance, there’s one more option for you. Get a government-seized car on auction, and you’ll be able to drive the car of your dreams without paying an arm and a leg for it.
What is a government-seized automobile?
When criminals are caught, the government seizes their property, including their automobiles. The government then auctions these automobiles off.
As you might imagine, a lot of criminals drive expensive or highly customized vehicles, and these are the kinds of vehicles that end up in government-seized automobile auctions.
How do I find a government-seized auto auction?
These auctions are held at frequent intervals in different parts of the country. There is likely to be one near you, but if you’re willing to travel, that expands your range of options considerably.
You can look for auction listings in newspapers or online. If you decide to look online, you can either do your own search or use an online auction directory service (for a one-time fee). If you hire a directory service, make sure you get a money-back guarantee.
How can I participate in a government-seized auto auction?
When you’ve found an auction you want to participate in, get in touch with the auction administrators and ask about registration requirements. In most cases, registration is free, and a photo ID is all that’s required.
How do I pay for my purchases at these auctions?
Most auctions accept cash, cashier’s check, and credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Payment terms differ from auction to auction. Some auctions will require a deposit on the day of the auction and the balance the following day.
Other auctions require immediate full payment for all purchases. Auctions that allow deposits on the day of the auction might require immediate full payment for purchases worth less than a certain amount, say, $5,000. Before you go to the auction site, find out what modes of payment the auction allows.
Are these auctions for real?
It’s possible to get good deals at these auctions, but you will have to do your homework. Don’t go in there before you’ve armed yourself with information about the kind of car you want and the kind of prices such a car would fetch on the market.
The best deals at government-seized auto auctions are usually on older, well-maintained vehicles.
There are several downsides to acquiring vehicles at government-seized auto auctions. First, the selection changes all the time. You can’t specify the kind of vehicle you want. You have to settle for what’s available. And because of the constant changes in selection, you can’t expect detailed information on descriptions and prices.
What information you do get is not necessarily reliable. It would be best to check out the vehicle yourself. If the auction is far from your place of residence, you will have to travel to the auction site at least a few days before the day of the auction to inspect the goods.
Second, you won’t be able to test-drive the vehicles. You’ll be able to look the vehicle over and ask questions, though. Vehicles aren’t available for inspection on the day of the auction, but there are auction previews, usually a day or two in advance. This is another reason to travel to the auction site at least a few days beforehand.
Third, these auctions don’t offer warranties. So be sure to get as much information as you can about the car you want. Ask the auction administrators for the car’s Vehicle Information Number (VIN) and use it to get a CarFax report on the car.
The CarFax report will give you valuable information, including odometer readings and history of flood damage or accidents.
Finally, bidding can get extremely competitive, especially if the car you have your eye on is new, popular, or well-maintained. You may find yourself bidding against used-car dealers, many of whom search these auctions for bargains that they can resell in turn.
Furious bidding can push auction prices up, sometimes close to or even exceeding the actual value of the automobile. When this happens, there’s little point in acquiring the automobile at an auction. You might as well buy it somewhere else.