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Government Auctions and Sales

Some government agencies sell items to the public through live and online auctions. These auctions let you buy government-owned assets from across the U.S. and its territories.

What the Federal Government Sells and Why They Sell It

Agency auction sites usually sell such things as:

  • Motor vehicles

  • Real estate 

  • A variety of other types of property. These may include boats, planes, art, jewelry, trailers, furniture, computers, and lab equipment. 

Government agencies sell assets for several reasons.

  • Law enforcement agencies sell criminals’ seized or forfeited property.

  • The U.S. Treasury Department sells items forfeited for violations of Treasury laws, including failure to pay income taxes.

  • Agencies sell items they no longer need.                                                                  

Federal Motor Vehicle Auctions (formerly listed on

GSA Auto Auctions

GSA Fleet Vehicle Sales sells thousands of government-owned vehicles each year by auction.  All vehicles are well-maintained, low-mileage, detailed, and ready to drive. And they’re available at significant savings. 

Vehicles for sale include: 

  • Cars

  • Trucks

  • Buses

  • Vans

  • Alternative fuel vehicles

Sales are conducted:

  • Live: On the GSA Fleet Vehicle Sales site, enter your zip code and a radius to find a nearby auction site. Or check out the sales calendar to see upcoming auctions by date and location.

  • Online: Search the site for the vehicle you’re looking for. You can specify make, model, mileage, fuel type, and more. Or search by location. Though bidding is online, you can visit the auction site ahead of time to inspect the vehicles. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Auctions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies list vehicles for auction at GTB Vehicle Remarketing. These vehicles are for sale "as is" and may need extensive repairs. They must be towed from the site. They should not be considered safe for driving until checked by a licensed mechanic.

Vehicles include:

  • Light and medium-duty pickups and vans

  • Sport utility vehicles (SUV)

  • Various size sedans

Sales are conducted using:

  • Live auction lane. These auctions are held throughout the continental U.S., Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

  • Proxy bids

  • Internet auctions

Federal Auctions with a Variety of Property Types (formerly listed on

U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Auctions

GSA Auctions is an easy-to-use site with extensive listings in a wide range of categories. Items for sale are government-owned excess property. They’re located or stored all over the country, and include:

  • Real estate

  • Airplanes, vessels, and vehicles

  • Travel trailers, manufactured housing (mobile homes), and park models

  • Office equipment and office furniture

  • Scientific equipment

  • Heavy machinery

Auctions are conducted completely online. You can view most items ahead of time by visiting the facility where the item is stored. 

U.S. Treasury Auctions

The U.S. Treasury holds about 300 public auctions each year throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Property sold at auction was forfeited by owners for tax evasion or other violations of Treasury law.

Treasury auctions sell:

  • New or used cars, aircraft, and boats

  • Real estate

  • Jewelry and clothes

  • Electronics

  • Industrial equipment

Sales methods vary.  

  • Property seized by the Internal Revenue Service for tax violations may be sold by mail-in bid or live auction.

  • Real estate sales are conducted using online auctions. Bidders can see properties in person by appointment.  

  • Most other property is sold by online auction. 

U.S. Marshals Service Seized Assets Auctions

The U.S. Marshals Service manages the U.S. Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program. The program serves to identify stolen property and return it to its owners, and to compensate victims with the proceeds from sales. It helps deter crime by depriving thieves of the goods they stole.  

Seized and forfeited items for sale can include:

  • Real estate

  • Cars, boats, and planes

  • Commercial businesses

  • Jewelry

  • Art

  • Antiques and collectibles

Sales are conducted by third-party companies and sales methods vary. Check the site for the property you’re interested in to see how auctions are managed.

Federal Auctions of Real Estate

You can bid on real estate for sale through the following federal agencies’ websites:

Sales of Federal Land

You can buy federal lands from the government without going through an auction. The land falls into two categories: real property and public land.

Federal Real Property for Sale

This land consists of developed land with buildings. The General Services Administration (GSA) is in charge of selling developed surplus property.

Federal Public Land for Sale

Public land is undeveloped land with no improvements. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees this land.

State Auctions

Many states and even some local governments sell surplus property. Contact your state's surplus property division to find out if it operates an auction program.

Tips for Participating in Government Auctions

  • The general rule for auctions is that the highest bidder wins, and cancellation is not possible. Check with the auction site ahead of time to find out if you can cancel a bid.

  • Each auction website operates differently. In some cases, the government agency itself runs the auctions. In other cases, the agency operates the shopping site, but a third-party company handles the auction itself.

  • Find out what forms of payment auctions accept. There is no uniform payment policy across all the different auctions. Some auctions accept credit card payments or personal checks. Others, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), don't accept either of these. Most auctions accept cashier's checks.

  • For real estate auctions, you may need to work with a broker or real estate agent to bid or make the purchase. Also, for real estate auctions, find out if financing is permitted. Many times it is not and the full purchase price is due when you win the bid.

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Last Updated: September 2, 2021