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Transcript: Government auctions

Anchor Intro: With the economy on the downswing, many people are looking for ways to squeeze more value from the money they spend. One way that might help? Buying at auctions. But before you bid, check out these tips from Bankrate.com.

Voice over 1: If there's one enduring symbol our nation's current economic slump, this could be it: a home auction, where the crack of a gavel marks the end of hope for one family and the beginning for another.

Voice over 2: But auctions are more than a place where real estate changes hands. They can be a great way to buy practically anything. This one, for example, is a seized property auction sponsored by Uncle Sam.

SOT: "There's cars, lots of electronics, there's jewelry, Rolex watches, there's 140,000 pairs of blue jeans, boats -- very eclectic items from power generators to GPSs."

Voice over 3: But whatever kind of auction you're attending, be it live or on eBay, there are rules to follow. First, always inspect whatever you're buying. Not an expert? Bring one. Second, know the value of what you're buying to the penny, and the price you're willing to pay. Don't go over it. And finally, an auction will often deliver deals, but rarely steals.

SOT: "You can get good deals at the auction, but of course when it's well attended, there's more competition and that certainly drive the prices higher."

Voice over 4: And even if you do get a deal, what you gain in savings you might lose in time spent. Inspection, valuation, registration, attending -- they all take time. Time wasted if you walk away empty-handed. Still, there are few ways to shop for used things that are more exciting or more interesting.

SOT: "Sometimes you get good deals, sometimes you don't. Who knows? Maybe I might buy a Maserati or something for two grand. I doubt it, but you never know."

Standup: Two more tips: The more publicized and well attended the auction, the less likely you are to get a deal. And next, walk before you run. Attend a few auctions and get comfortable with the process before you bid. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Dec. 31, 2008
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