Buying Big Ticket Items

by Erika Bales


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For many of us, the thought of having to purchase or replace a high-dollar item can send us into a panic. Fortunately, there are alternatives to paying high commissions and huge retail markups.

Whether you are merely a person trying to make it on your own, or start your own small business, replacing an automobile does not have to be a traumatic event. While perusing your local newspaper, flip to the section where legal notices are publicized. Within those notices are often advertisements for cars and trucks being placed for auction. These items can be placed on the auction block for a variety of reasons including estate sales, business closings, mechanics' liens, and collateral sales. Perhaps the most important part of the ads is the terms of sale. The terms of sale outline the time and location of the sale, if inspections are allowed before the sale, if warranties are available, what forms of payment are accepted and when the full bidding price, including fees, should be paid. If there is a make and model that catches your eye, simply access a Kelley Bluebook to be sure what the vehicle is worth. Subtract from the price you are willing to pay any fees and taxes. This should leave you with the highest bid you are willing to place. Being fully informed is the best way to avoid unnecessary disappointment.

Here are three tips to keep any auctions goers from being led astray. First, when you arrive at the auction, be sure to read any material you are asked to sign before being handed your bidding card. Either the material you are asked to sign, or your bidding card will delineate what taxes and any other fees you may be expected to pay on top of your high bid, if you are the successful bidder. There are usually fees for title preparation and state sales tax. Where many auto auction winners become dismayed is the auctioneer fee. This fee is usually on a sliding scale. For example, if your winning bid is between $1 and $999, then you would pay an additional $180; or if between $1,000 and $1,999, then the fee may be $300. If these items are not clearly explained, the vehicle may not be such a deal after all. It is best to leave before an expensive mistake is made.

Second, when the bidding starts, do not just yell out the amount to which you are willing to bid and hope that no one else beats you. You may be able to save much more money by bidding in smaller increments. The ten extra minutes you spend bidding may save you hundreds of dollars or more.

Third, new auction attendees are often duped in the heat of the moment, when they get involved in a bidding war. The car that they really want is sitting in front of them. The auctioneer is rattling off numbers and the bidding speeds up. It comes down to two bidders bouncing bids back and forth. If you are one of these bidders, you have bid much higher than you had planned because you let your ego out distance your budget. Maybe you won the car or truck, but you did not save money in the long run.

Used furniture and other household odds and ends can be obtained in a similar fashion. Among the other legal advertisements, there are often notices to parties who failed to pay the charges for their storage space. The owners of the storage facilities have no other means of retrieving their lost income than to sell the contents of the space. Unfortunately, these items are sold as a lot, meaning you have to buy everything that was in the storage space. Although this may seem a bit cumbersome, it can be turned into a positive event. Anything that you do not need, you can sell either through a newspaper ad, Internet auction, or local flea market. Donating these items to charitable organizations may also be an option, and a possible tax deduction.

If you take these tips to heart, you can keep your money in your wallet, where it belongs.


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