Newest Family

Your Newest Family Heirloom Probably Came from One of These Places

Online auctions contain a treasure trove of valuable items, some of which may be hard to find from other sources. Due to their competitive nature and the ingenious sourcing strategies of the savviest organizers, live online auctions often boast a particularly impressive stock of rare and high-value goods. While it might seem to be the case, these items don’t mysteriously appear out of thin air. They come from a variety of unusual, even unorthodox sources, some of which involve law enforcement.

Here are some of the most common sources of live online auction items.

Law Enforcement Seizures

Law enforcement agencies aren’t shy about taking what rightfully belongs to the people — using legal means, of course. Individuals suspected of violating the law may be subject to limited and temporary asset seizure, a custom known as asset forfeiture; local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are all authorized to make seizures in this manner.

In other cases, individuals convicted of a crime may be forced to pay monetary fines and/or forfeit some or all of the assets obtained with the proceeds of their illegal activity (or through illegal activity itself, i.e. theft). These seizures may be sold to private individuals or entities, including auctioneers, to fund restitution for the victim.

Abandoned Storage Lockers

If you’ve seen the old show “Storage Wars,” you know that buying up abandoned storage lockers is a big business. Although old lockers are more likely to be filled with trash than treasure, it’s not unheard of to find true gems buried amid the garbage. Your new family heirloom could well be another family’s forgotten keepsake.

Bankruptcy Proceedings

Another rich source of goods that eventually find their way to auction: civil proceedings, notably bankruptcy actions. Bankrupt individuals who become unable to repay their debts with liquid assets on hand may need to forfeit some or all of their physical assets, with some limited legal exceptions aimed at preventing destitution. Bankruptcy-related forfeitures are particularly common in proceedings involving high-value secured debts, like mortgages. That’s why it’s so common to see houses up for auction.

Consignments from Living Individuals

Criminal and civil asset seizures aren’t the only source of online auction items. Private citizens are free to consign assets that they no longer want or need; many do so to reduce clutter in their homes or simply make a buck.

Deceased Individuals’ Estates

The dearly departed — or, more accurately, their still-living relatives or estate executors — provide another source of auction-ready items. Consigning items formerly owned by deceased individuals is a lucrative alternative to an estate sale, which has the potential to be rushed and often fails to maximize the value of the items up for sale. A live online auction may be a better way to dispose of high-value items from deceased relatives — and walk away with a payment worthy of their memory.

What’s your favorite source of live online auction items?