But the competition at county auctions is brutal and it's only getting stronger. "Taxi companies want the old cruisers to use as cabs," Lang says. "And often there are government employees who are going after a vehicle that they used on the job and grew fond of. A lot of the school buses and trucks get bought by brokers looking to ship them overseas to poorer countries that will use them for public transportation. These are guys who go to government auctions all the time, know what to pay and know a lemon when they see it. You won't be the only bargain hunter out there."
We were in the process of downsizing when a friend attended a program by Mr. Will Farmer on appraising, auctions and today’s styles and trends. She relayed that our mid-century modern furniture was back in vogue. We were familiar with the Farmer name from Antiques Roadshow, but knew little about the auction business. We showed Will Farmer, now owner of the business, photographs of our furniture and he was interested. He came to our home, looked at the furniture, described the auction process and carefully reviewed the contract we would sign. From start to finish the entire process was very professional. The Salem, Virginia gallery is spacious and well organized with plenty of parking. The entire staff is very friendly and courteous. The movers were very nice and careful. We were kept informed at every step. We were given a possible range of prices each item might bring, but no promises were made. Auction day was fascinating and fun. Some items brought more than expected and some less. In the end it was a wonderful experience and one we would not hesitate to do again.
Do your research. Check Kelly Blue Book for the proper price for the vehicle, including its mileage and apparent condition. Always downgrade the condition by one ranking for government auctions. Also, do some smart used-car research, such as checking Consumer Reports for reliability and the frequencies of particular repairs, and checking our road test information if it's a recent model vehicle.