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The General Services Administration has established a new site which will allow buyers to bid for unwanted federal properties.

The Office of Property Disposal allows the public to bid for properties nationwide. Bidders can search the site by state and also by property type: raw land, industrial, commercial, residential, multi-unit, and agricultural.

Under federal rules, property is first made available to local governments and , in some cases for a fee and in others without charge. If the local governments do not want the property, it is then made available to the public.

According to GSA there are four ways to bid:

  • Sealed Bid. Bidders mail in their bid and the required bid deposit to the specified GSA regional office prior to the designated bid opening date and time. All bids are publicly opened on the bid opening date. The bids may not be modified after the public opening. The property is awarded to the high bidder provided the bid represents the fair market value of the property.
  • Public Auction. A conventional oral auction setting. Bidders register and bring the required bid deposit with them to the auction on the day and at the location and time specified for the sale. Bidders bid against each other until bidding stops. The high bidder is awarded the property provided the bid represents the fair market value of the property.
  • Auction by Mail. Bidders mail the required bid deposit to the appropriate GSA, Property Disposal office and then are allowed to bid or increase their bids via mail, e-mail, fax, private delivery service, on-line or in person. The auction continues over a period of days until bidding stops. The high bidder is awarded the property provided the bid represents the fair market value of the property.
  • On-line auction. Similar to auction by mail. But all activities, including submitting the bid deposit can be done on-line. Usually used to augment the auction by mail process. The auction continues over a period of days until bidding stops. The high bidder is awarded the property provided the bid represents the fair market value of the property.

"State and local governments, eligible public institutions, and non-profit organizations," says GSA, "may acquire Surplus Property that the Federal Government no longer needs. Surplus Federal property is screened for public purposes such as public health, education and parks.

"Surplus Federal properties that are not conveyed to state/local governments and other eligible recipients for public purposes are sold to private individuals and companies by competitive bid."

The site, however, does not offer many properties: As of yesterday, 26 properties were listed, including several already sold. Among those listed were a single-family home in West Virginia, a duplex in Juneau, a California farm, a warehouse in Denver, a Michigan lightkeeper's house, an Army missile assembly plant in North Carolina, and a former brine disposal well site in Louisiana.

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