Q. Can anyone bid at a repo auction?
A. If the auctions are open to the public, you just need to register before you can bid and usually you will need to be 18 years old or older. Becoming a registered bidder is fairly simple and you can sometimes do it online. Usually, you’ll need a valid picture ID if you are doing it in person or identifying information for online registration. Some auctions are private or open only to licensed dealers.
Q. What type of cars are available at repo auctions?
A. Each repo auction will have different inventory and the selection will vary depending on where the repo cars came from. It is not uncommon for there to be a wide variety of ages, conditions, makes and models. Used dealerships often attend auctions to purchase cars to sell on their lots, so there are definitely some quality cars available.
Q. Do I get to test-drive the cars?
A. Once again this depends on the auction, but most of them do not let you test-drive vehicles. If they do, there is usually a specific time on a particular day when they are available. Typically, all auctions offer some time to inspect the cars available, often the day before or a few hours before the auction. Plan to go and spend a couple hours thoroughly looking over all the cars you are interested in. It will be your only chance to inspect them.
Q. How much should I bid?
A. Experts generally say not to bid more than trade-in value for a repo at auction. Most recommend subtracting the cost of any needed repairs from trade-in to come up with your highest bid. You can also just generally subtract about 5%-15% to cover repairs if you don’t have the time or knowledge to figure the costs of repairs exactly. If you are looking to resell the car for a profit, it is particularly important not to bid too much. Otherwise you won’t be able to sell it for enough. If you are just looking to find a better price on a car than you would find at a dealership, you have a little more wiggle room. Still, keep a maximum bid in mind at all times because you don’t want to pay too much for a repo.
Q. How do I bid at a repo auction?
A. If you were given a numbered paddle, you will hold that up when you want to bid. Otherwise, they will probably tell you to use your hand. You don’t need to be among the first to bid, but when you do, be sure that the auctioneer notices you and acknowledges your bid. He should look your way for future bids as the bidding continues until you stop bidding.
Q. How can I avoid a bidding war?
A. The best way to not become part of a bidding war is to stop bidding if the same person constantly bids higher right after you. Bidding wars can get competitive and emotional and lead to overbidding, so it’s best to stay out of them.
Q. What do I do if I’m the highest bidder?
A. At the close of the auction, you will be required to pay for any cars you were the highest bidder on. Most auctions allow you to pay a deposit and then require the rest later. Make sure you know the details and what types of payments are accepted before the auction begins.
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