Acquire a Few Classic Deals at Auctions

Physician's Money Digest, November15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 21

How many physicians can say they're notlooking for a great deal in a purchase?Most shoppers will hop from store tostore in search of an elusive dollar. Whatyou might not know is that both public and privateauctions, even those conducted by major auctionhouses, are one of the best ways to realize incrediblebuys on everything from houses to jewelry.

Grab Government Goods

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A wide range of government agencies regularlyhold federal auctions. According to a article, auctions by the General Services Administration(GSA; 800-473-7836; www.gsaauctions.gov) feature vehicles and anything else previously usedby government agencies. Because their maintenance iswell tended to, government vehicles are usually in goodcondition. The auctions are held regularly around thecountry. You can even register and bid online.

Customs Service auctions usually involve high-endgoods like yachts, sports cars, and computer equipmentthat have been seized during drug traffickingoperations. General auctions are held about every 9weeks at five locations around the country: LosAngeles, Calif; Edison, NJ; Fort Lauderdale, Fla; ElPaso, Tex; and Nogales, Ariz. You can register toreceive free auction schedules by calling 703-273-7373 or visiting www.treas.gov/auctions/customs.

The IRS often auctions off real estate and otheritems that have been taken from delinquent taxpayers.Contact your nearest IRS office for information orcheck online at www.ustreas.gov/auctions/irs. USMarshals also snatch up a wide variety of personalproperty, especially cars and real estate; call 888-878-3256 and ask for the National Sellers List or visitwww.usdoj.gov/marshals for more information onauctions held around the country.

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The article explains thatyou might have to register in advance to participate insome auctions. When it comes to payment, you mightbe able to use a credit card, or you might be requiredto pay by certified check within 48 hours. Also, buyersare usually required to take their purchasespromptly. With a large item, you might need to factorin the cost of a professional mover.

Frequent Auction Houses

BusinessWeek

Apart from government auctions, many majorauction houses feature a range of items (eg, jewelry,furniture, and fine china). A recent articleprovides a few examples: Arcade Auctions bySotheby's (search.sothebys.com), House Sale byChristie's (www.christies.com), Doyle at Home byDoyle New York (www.doylenewyork.com/doyleathome), and SoMa and Sunset sales by Bonhams &Butterfields (www.butterfields.com).

The auctions are held frequently. Bonhams &Butterfields holds its SoMa and Sunset auctionsmonthly in San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.Christie's House Sale auction is held the firstWednesday of each month in New York. The Doyleat Home auction is held 9 times each year, also inNew York. And Sotheby's holds its Arcade auctionseries in New York at least 12 times a year. If youcan't get to the site, it's nice to know that many auctioneersallow bidding by phone, fax, or e-mail.

In addition to auction houses'specialists who canassist buyers, online catalogs and tutorials are availableto help beginners learn about the auction process. DoyleNew York, for example, hosts regular auction seminarsfor beginners. Previews, usually held several days beforethe actual auction, provide an important opportunity toexamine items closely for size and flaws.

The article stresses that the final auction price is notnecessarily the buyer's final cost. For example, a buyer'spremium, which ranges from 5% to 20% of the winningbid, is added to the price by virtually all auctionhouses. Taxes and shipping should be factored into thecost equation as well. Of course, once items are purchased,they can't be returned. Do your homework sothat you don't overbid and, who knows, you mightstrike a classic bargain.