Surplus Property - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How are items priced?
The word price here includes anything from high return to zero to a negative price, or cost. In any event, it represents the best deal we can make for the University. Sometimes not having to pay anything to have something hauled away is a very good price.
Prices are set by the Property Officer, however, because of the diverse universe of equipment we deal with, the selling department is often the best available expert on the value of the item, how it works and who might be interested in buying it. The Property Officer mines this information along with past experience to set the advertised price or bid parameters.
A valuable starting point in determining a price is to compare the used item with the price of a comparable new item and ask, “What would the price have to be to cause someone to buy the used item instead of the new one?” It is often useful to start at 50% and go up or down depending on condition or other circumstances.
Most items are advertised with a price, followed by “or best offer”. On rare occasions an item is withdrawn if we can’t get the price the selling department desires. It is always a good idea to encourage any and all offers, and to keep track of the people making them. An offer that seems too low at first may look very good a month later. In the end, the market determines the final selling price.
When a low offer is made, the person is told that their offer will be held until the ad plays out. This is often enough to make them increase their offer. But regardless, it still gives us an offer to turn to if nothing better comes along. An offer is treated as an informal bid and is kept confidential. At no time before the sale do we make an offer public or play prospective buyers against each other.
What methods are used to sell surplus?
First Class: Ninety percent of all sales are advertised on First Class. First Class is free and reaches the entire campus community, including students. All items, except those handled through want lists, are advertised on First Class, regardless of selling method. All ads are placed in a folder where there is most likely to be interest, but also are always put in Post Bills Here. All ads are also headed: UNIVERSITY SURPLUS – (item), for easy identification.
Want Lists: Want lists are maintained by the Property Officer that include departments, employees, students, non-university individuals, local businesses, town offices and charities. When the Property Officer and a department feel comfortable with a price, an item is sometimes offered to someone on our want list without advertising.
Cold Calls: If we feel an item might be of use to a particular department, charity, business or student group, we will call or e-mail them before we advertise or forward a copy of the ad.
Informal Bids: When we are uncertain about a price, we will advertise the item and simply ask for the “best offer”. This amounts to an informal bid. Offers are taken in any manner (in-person offers, written offers or phone calls to the Property Officer) to encourage as much activity as possible. All offers are kept private. This method is less intimidating than a formal bid and broadens the interest.
Formal Bids: Formal bids are rare. They are more likely to be used for an item of high value or one where there is known interest from a few companies or parties. The most common use of formal bids is to sell a group of relatively high value vehicles from the FM Motor Pool at one time.
Consignment: Occasionally we have an item that we can’t move because there is no obvious market or no market that can be reached without the gamble of expensive advertising. There may be an individual who would like to purchase the item for resale, but doesn’t have the money to invest or is afraid of getting stuck with it if no buyer is found. If they have extensive knowledge or do business in the desired market, it is in the interests of the University to encourage them to find a buyer first that allows them a profit, before buying from us.
Who gets to buy surplus?
We first determine whether an item should remain on campus or be made available to the public. There are several ways to handle this:
1) Advertise without restrictions if the item is not needed on campus.
2) Advertise “for departments only”.
3) Use dual pricing: simultaneously advertise one price “for departments” and a higher price for “others”.
4) Advertise “for departments only” and if there is no interest, re-advertise to the general public.
How does the University sell vehicles?
Single vehicles of high value and of broad appeal are sold by setting a price based on the Blue Book and then advertised on First Class and in a classified ad in the Bangor Daily News. Single vehicles of low value are usually sold by advertising on First Class alone and the price is set in the usual manner, as there is no Blue Book price to use for guidance.
If Facilities Management has several vehicles, usually sedans, from the motor pool available, we usually use the formal bid method. FM places a display ad in the Bangor Daily News, and the Property Officer advertises on First Class. All bids are to be sent in a sealed envelope to the Property Officer, who opens the bids at a published time and date. FM decides whether or not to accept the highest bids, using the Blue Book as a guide, and contacts the successful bidders and handles the actual transaction and title change.