Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions
Public Buyer Questions
Public Benefit Conveyance Questions
Federal Agency Customer Questions


General Questions

1. How do I find out about available excess and surplus real estate?

GSA's Office of Real Property Utilization and Disposal uses this website to post notices of availability for excess and surplus real properties.  Information about current and upcoming public sales is also posted on this website as well as our auction site http://www.realestatesales.gov. We advertise sales through a variety of mass media sources including: local and national newspapers, trade publications, radio and television.  Follow us on twitter @GSA_RPdisposal or like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/GSARealProperty.


2. Do you also have automobiles for sale, and other personal property for sale?

The Office of Real Property Utilization & Disposal is only responsible for Real Property Assets. However, GSA sells surplus personal property including automobiles through the Federal Acquisition Service Property Management Division. Information on government sales and auctions of personal property including auctions can be found at http://surplussales.gsa.gov and www.usa.gov.

3. What types of properties are available?

Properties differ widely in type and value and may include improved and unimproved land, office buildings, warehouses, commercial and industrial facilities, airfields, former Post Offices, farms and single- and multi-family residences.

4. Where are the properties located?

Properties for sale may be in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories.


Public Buyer Questions

1. I found a property I want to buy, now what do I do?

Your next step is to obtain an Information for Bid package (IFB). GSA provides all the information necessary to bid on a particular property in the IFB package. You can obtain an IFB for a specific property from https://propertydisposal.gsa.gov or by calling or visiting the applicable GSA regional office.

2. What is an Invitation for Bid (IFB)?

The IFB is a publication that contains the information you need in order to make a bid for a property.  Each property for sale has its own unique IFB and constitutes the Government's contract.  The contract becomes binding on the parties upon acceptance of your bid.  It provides the location of the property, property description, maps, pictures, general terms of sale, bidding instructions and any special terms of the sale.  The IFB also contains the official bid forms for purchase of the property and specifies the required deposit to participate in an auction.  Any additional questions you have regarding the property or how to bid can be answered by calling the realty specialist listed in the IFB.

3. What are the asking prices for property?

Laws and regulations requires GSA to obtain the appraised Fair Market Value (FMV) for every property it sells. Generally, only high bidders are considered for award in GSA sales and each high bid is compared to appraised FMV. If the bid is at or higher than GSA’s appraised FMV, the property is normally awarded to that high bidder.

4. What is the  Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property?

The FMV is proprietary information and is never made available to the public. Neither the value nor the appraisal reports are subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Prospective buyers are encouraged to seek opinions of local real estate professionals when considering purchasing a property.

5. Are GSA properties sold at discount prices?

No, GSA is required to obtain Fair Market Value for property sold to the general public. Sales are competitive and generally only the high bidders are given consideration for award of sale.

6. How do I bid on real estate offered by GSA?

GSA has three commonly used methods for conducting public sales of surplus Federal real property (online auction, public auction, and sealed bid). You can bid online at  http://www.realestatesales.gov.

7. What is an Online Auction?

An online auction allows the bidder to conduct bidding activities online. Bidders bid against each other on the website until a designated date. The highest bidder is declared once the auction officially closes.You can find properties available for online auction on GSA's auction site  realestatesales.gov

8. What is a Public Auction?

Public auctions are conducted in a conventional “live outcry” auction setting with an auctioneer at a specific date and time. Bidders register, submit the bid deposit, and bid openly against each other until the high bidder is declared.

9. What is a Sealed Bid Auction?

Bidders mail in bids and bid deposits 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. After the public opening, no bids may be modified. The highest bidder is declared shortly after the auction officially closes.

10. Is there a minimum bid?

Usually there is no minimum bid on a property. However, if a minimum bid is required it will be stated in the IFB. Realizing that it is often difficult to know “where to start,” minimum bids are occasionally suggested for certain properties. Minimum bids do not generally correspond with appraised value, but are used to shorten the bidding process.

11. Is a bid deposit required?

Yes. An initial bid deposit is required to bid on a property. After acceptance of an offer, an additional deposit (usually equaling 10% of the sale price) may be required The additional deposit may also be a fixed dollar amount rather than a percentage of the sale price.

12. What happens to my bid deposit if I’m not the successful bidder?

Upon the close of the auction, deposits for all bidders, except the high and second high bidders, will be returned as soon as possible.  Bid deposits for the high bidder and second high bidder will be retained in accordance with the IFB. Bidders should refer to the IFB for specific terms and conditions.

13. How do I register to bid online?

Registration is a two step process.  You must first be registered with the auction site ( www.realestatesales.gov) and then register for the property you are specifically interested in bidding on.  Prior to hitting the "bid now" button on the auction page, you must submit a bid deposit to be eligible to bid.

14. Is the highest bid always accepted?

Generally. If the highest bid is acceptable and represents the fair market value of the property, an award is usually made. However, GSA reserves the right to act in the Government’s best interest when reviewing all bids. Therefore, the highest bid may not always be accepted.

15. Does GSA offer financing?

No. Bids to purchase must be on an ALL CASH basis. Government terms are not available and GSA does not offer financing. Buyers are expected to arrange their own financing and to pay the balance in full by the closing date. After the date of acceptance, there is generally a 30 to 60 day period in which to send the final payment to close the sale. This information is specified in the IFB for each sale.

16. If I am the successful bidder, do I receive a deed?

Yes. After acceptance, GSA issues a Quitclaim Deed upon receipt of full and final payment for the purchase of the property.

17. Can I get a copy of the contract for my bank or title company?

Your contract with the government is the IFB and the bidder registration form along with the award letter.


Public Benefit Conveyance Questions

1. May I obtain surplus federal real property at no cost?

Public bodies (state and local government agencies) and in some cases nonprofits, may obtain surplus Federal real property at up to 100% discount, as authorized by statute, for certain uses which benefit the public. These types of uses are called Public Benefit Conveyances (PBCs).

2. What are allowable public benefit uses for which surplus Federal real property may be conveyed?

Allowable public benefit uses include homeless assistance, public health, educational, park and recreation, historic monument, wildlife conservation, law enforcement, correctional, emergency management, port, self-help housing, public airport, highway, road widening and power transmission lines.  

3. What are allowable public benefit uses for which surplus Federal real property may be conveyed?

Properties that are available for any of these uses are posted to GSA’s website at http://rc.gsa.gov/ with a screening notice that lists the various public benefit uses for which the property is available.  The notice will provide information about the property as well as the point of contact to obtain additional information. Interested parties may also register through the website to receive automatic notification when new properties are posted.

4. Is there a time limit during which interested parties need to express interest in a property once it has been posted for screening?

Yes. Interested parties must submit a written expression of interest to the point of contact listed on the screening notice within thirty (30) days for homeless assistance and all other PBCs.  

5. How do I proceed if I decide that I would like to obtain a property for public benefit use?

When submitting the letter of interest to the point of contact listed on the screening notice, interested parties should request an application, which must be completed and submitted in accordance with the instructions in the application package.

6. How is a decision made to convey surplus property for public use to applicant?

For the majority of public uses, the General Services Administration (GSA) partners with another Federal agency (sponsoring agency) that has the subject matter expertise to appropriately analyze a proposed public use.  For instance, the Department of Education analyzes applications for proposed educational use. If the sponsoring agency approves an application and recommends to GSA that the property be conveyed to the applicant, GSA may convey the property or “assign” the property to the sponsoring agency for conveyance, as required by the authorizing statute of each PBC program.

7. When property is conveyed for one of the authorized public benefit uses, is the recipient required to use the property only for the approved purpose?

Yes.  Once an application for a specific use has been approved by the sponsoring agency and the property conveyed to the grantee, it must be used in accordance with the applicable statute governing that public benefit use, and the application submitted to the sponsoring agency. Any change in use must be approved by the sponsoring agency and the GSA. Compliance inspections are routinely performed by the sponsoring agency or GSA, as required by authorizing statute, in order to ensure that the property is being used in compliance with the conveyance requirements.

8. Once property has been conveyed for one of the public benefit uses, must it always be used for the specific purpose?

The term of use restriction depends on the authorizing statute of that particular PBC, and ranges from twenty (20) years to perpetuity.  For further information regarding the required term of use, please see the Public Benefit Conveyance Authorities and General Information (xls) matrix at: http://propertydisposal.gsa.gov/StateandLocal

9. Where may I obtain additional information regarding the PBC programs?

Additional information regarding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act may be obtained at http://propertydisposal.gsa.gov/McKinneyVentoHomelessProgram. Additional information on other PBC programs may be obtained at  http://propertydisposal.gsa.gov/StateandLocal

10. I know there are no homeless entities in my area, does the government still have to do a homeless screening?

Under 42 USC 11411, if HUD determines excess Federal real property to be suitable for homeless assistance and the property is determined surplus, it must be screened.  The lack of homeless entities in an area has no bearing on the requirement to screen.  

Federal Agency Customer Questions

1. Does the Office of Real Property Utilization and Disposal provide any training to federal agencies on how to reposition properties?

Yes, typically we offer 2-3 multi agency classes every fiscal year.  At least one class is conducted in Washington, DC, while others are conducted in our Zonal offices on a rotating basis. We also specifically tailor classes for individual agencies at their facilities. Visit our web page for more info http://propertydisposal.gsa.gov/Training

2. For Federal Agency owned assets, what entity is the owner of record?

All Federally owned property is held in the name of The US Federal Government.

3. When property is transferred between Federal Agencies, does the deed need to be changed?

No. In a transfer between federal agencies there is a change in custody and accountability--not ownership.

4. Is federally owned property subject to local zoning and planning?

Generally no.  The Federal Government is not subject to local developmental restrictions, density limits. Of course, the Federal Government does have to study the impacts of their proposed actions.

5. Can use restrictions impact the market value of a real property?

Yes.  Real estate derives value not only from dirt and improvements, but also from development potential.

6. When GSA sells surplus property at a public auction do they restrict reuse options?

Generally no.  The Federal Government may include restrictions related to environmental, historic, endangered species, etc.  The restriction or use limitation would have to be supported by a statutory or regulatory necessity.

7. Will GSA begin working with a landholding agency (LHA) prior to receiving a Report of Excess (ROE)?  
Yes.  GSA will gladly assist a LHA in the completion of an ROE package.  If a ROE Package is determined to be insufficient, GSA will conditionally accept the ROE and identify what items are required for full acceptance of the ROE.

8. What is the purpose of a Targeted Asset Review (TAR)?  

A TAR is a real estate utilization study designed to assist an agency with its real property needs.  It helps the LHA:
  • Increase its knowledge of individual assets
  • Understand the role of each asset in supporting the agency's mission objectives
  • Examine current and future utilization alternatives
  • Provide a due diligence review, which includes collecting and organizing title, environmental, historic and cultural information
  • Identify real estate and community issues affecting the property
9.  When I think of GSA, I think of the agency that buys and sells buildings for the government.  Could you discuss some of the other lesser known services that GSA offers and how to take advantage of them?

GSA is responsible for improving the government's workplace by managing assets, delivering maximum value in acquisitions, preserving historic property and implementing technology solutions.  For more information on GSA and our mission, please visit http://www.gsa.gov.

10.  My agency has noticed a nearby federal building which is not in current use. We could make good use of it.  How could we find out if the building is available and if so what the process is?

Excess properties currently being screened for other federal need, can be found here:   https://resourcecenter.secure.force.com/pbs/FederalExcessNotices.  However, if your agency identifies a property not being fully utilized that is not posted as excess on that website, please contact your local Real Property Utilization & Disposal office to bring it to their attention.