US Treasury Department Seized Real Property Auctions

Below are common questions and answers about buying at CWSAMS Seized Real Property online and live auctions.  Seized Real Property is all real estate that is seized by the federal government due to criminal activity.  If you have additional questions, please see the Terms of Sale for the specific auction you are interested in, or contact us at (703) 273-7373 or email at

In addition to reading the Terms of Sale, to be best prepared to participate in an auction, attend the scheduled public preview or visit the specific auction page on

Real Property Common Questions

Typically, a wide variety of real property is available, including homes, condominiums, commercial buildings, operating businesses, and vacant land.

It is strongly recommended that you attend the open houses/inspections that are scheduled prior to sale. The bidder is invited, urged, and cautioned to inspect the property prior to submitting a bid. Failure to inspect property shall not constitute cause for cancellation of sale. Property will be available for inspection only at the times specified.  At their own expense, potential bidders may have property inspectors examine the property during regularly scheduled open houses.

Properties that are designated as “Online Auctions” are available for online bidding. If designated as a “Live Auction”, online bidding is NOT available and you must be present to participate in the sale.

Yes, a written sales contract will be prepared at the conclusion of an auction (live or online) with the High Bidder and the Back-up Bidder. Click here to view a sample contract. Click here to view a sample contract.

A Special Warranty Deed requires the Government to defend the title against defects or claims arising from the forfeiture process and to indemnify the buyer. This deed may be issued with or without title insurance depending on the specific nature of the forfeiture action. An announcement will be made in the sale flyer, auction site, and on the day of sale to specify the title insurance status.  Click here to view a sample Special Warranty Deed.

A Government Deed provides a clear title to the property with all back-taxes, liens and/or encumbrances of record paid by the Government. Title Insurance is available at Buyer’s expense.   Click here to view a sample Government Deed.

Cashier’s or Certified checks made payable to CWS Marketing Group, Inc are the only forms of payment accepted. Forms of payment that are not accepted include: Personal or business checks, money orders, cash, credit cards, bank letters, or letters of credit. Click here to view a sample check. Please check the Terms of Sale for the specific instructions regarding payment. A link to the Terms of Sale can be found on each property’s webpage.

FOR LIVE (ONSITE) AUCTIONS ONLY: It depends on how many properties you are planning to buy. If you wish to bid on all but purchase only one, than you need only one deposit check (generally the properties will be sold in the order they have been listed on the website and flyer.) If you are planning on buying more than one property, you will need a deposit check for each one. You have a choice of having multiple checks or one check totaling the sum of the deposits needed. However, if you do not win all of them, you will need to leave that check as an initial payment(s) toward the final price of the property or properties. We do not have the capability to refund a portion of a deposit check.

FOR ONLINE AUCTIONS ONLY: If you plan to bid on multiple properties you will need a cashier’s check deposit for each auction. Deposit checks for online sales cannot be transferred from auction to auction or day to day. We also cannot hold deposit checks for future auctions. All unsuccessful bidders checks will be returned after the auction.

Occasionally the Government will establish a minimum/reserve bid which is not released to the public.  In most cases, the minimum/reserve bid is met. In the event the high bid does not reach the minimum/reserve bid, the Government may open negotiations with the high bidder. The Government reserves the right to accept or reject any and all bids.

Yes. The Terms of Sale are the specific guidelines and rules that each bidder is required to follow. You can find the Terms of Sale linked in the description of each real property listing on the Treasury website.

Closing is usually required within 45 calendar days of sale or sooner. Only the seller may, at its discretion, exceed closing beyond 45 calendar days. Payment in full is due at Closing.  Closing costs, including and without limitation, transfer taxes, documentary stamps, recording fees, and escrow fees will be paid by the Buyer and Seller in accordance with the customs of the county in which the property is located, unless stated otherwise in the individual Terms and Conditions of Sale.

If you cannot make deposits or final payments within the time frames specified in the Terms of Sale, you will forfeit any right and interest in the property. Title of the property will remain with the Government and you will forfeit any deposits you made.

The Government does not offer financing.  Proof of financing is NOT required to participate in the auction.  However, you are strongly encouraged to investigate and secure financing arrangements, if required, prior to participating in an auction. Failure to obtain financing does not relieve you of your obligation to close on the property.

Unless stated otherwise, a clear title will be conveyed via a Government Deed. Back taxes, liens and/or other encumbrances will be paid by the Government. Sometimes, title is conveyed with Special Warranty Deed or Quit Claim Deed. The type of deed will be identified in the Terms of Sale.

No, you do not need a broker in order to bid. If you do have a broker, all arrangements, including any fees and broker commissions, are strictly between you and the broker.

No, the government does not pay broker commissions.  If a broker represents a buyer, all arrangements, including any fees and broker commissions, are strictly between the broker and their client.

Yes. You must be over 18 years old and cannot be the party or agent of the party from whom the property was seized. Forfeited real property will not be sold to the defendant or person(s) acting as his/her agent. Should this be found to be true, the real property sales contract may be cancelled by the Government after review of records.

Yes, but you must have a valid, government issued, photo ID to register.

Employees of the Department of Treasury and members of their immediate family are prohibited from bidding on any real property. If you work for another Government agency, check your agency’s policies.

Most property is seized due to smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering, credit card fraud, food stamp fraud, mail fraud or other illegal activity.

The Department of the Treasury has designated CWS Asset Management & Sales (CWSAMS) as the prime contractor responsible for the maintenance and sale of seized and forfeited real property throughout the U.S. Our website is incorporated into the official Treasury site. CWS is not affiliated with any other auction information services, seminars, or publications, and we never charge a fee to access these auction listings.

CWS never charges a fee to access auction listings or to attend an auction.  Buyer’s premiums are not charged at any seized property auction.

Real Property Online Auctions

No.  Online bidding is available for sales that are designated as an online auction, and for live auctions that offer simulcast bidding.

Yes, public previews are scheduled on specific dates and times prior to the sale date to allow prospective bidders opportunity to preview/inspect the property. Check the preview schedule for the auction you are interested in.

Yes, anyone can view the bidding online when the auction is active. Go to the auction you are interested in and click on the LOT (black button) to view bids.

  1. If you are a new bidder, please create an account  (only required once).*
  2. Visit and click on “Register to Bid” next to auction you are interested.
  3. To complete your registration you must submit a bid deposit along with the bid deposit form.  Please see your specific auction Terms of Sale for bid deposit requirement.

Bidders will need to accept the Terms & Conditions in order to establish an account.

Persons wishing to participate in the online bidding process are required to register online and submit a Bid Deposit Form along with the appropriate cashier’s check deposit, made payable to CWS Marketing Group, Inc.  Download and complete the Bid Deposit Form and submit, along with the cashier’s check deposit in the amount indicated for that particular property.  The completed Bid Deposit Form and Deposit Check must be mailed to: CWSAMS, 7998 Donegan Drive, Manassas VA 20109. The deposit is due no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on the day before the auction. Once the deposit is received, bidder will be sent a confirming email with the link to the online auction site and further instructions. For auctions with multiple properties, please see the 4th questions under “Common Questions” above concerning multiple-property bid deposits.

All bids placed are Max Bids. The system will enter the next bid increment and enter your bid as a maximum bid.
Example: current bid: $5000, bid increment: $500, bidder enters $10000
– system enters $5500 (Max $10000)

Steps to bid can be found in the How to Guide

  1. Make sure you are logged in
  2. Go to auction lot and click on the “star” icon, which turns red.  Click on “Watched Lots” to view your watched lots.

Mobile Device

– Tap on the “three dot” icon, which will open a menu
– Tap on “Watch Lot”
– There will now be a star next to the lot number of the lot you are watching

If a bidder is logged into the bidding page, a message will display on screen OUTBID. If you are logged out of the system, you will receive an email with the subject “You were outbid”. Within the email is a link to place another bid. If you have downloaded the CWS Auctions App on your phone, you will also receive a text alert when you’ve been outbid.

If a lot receives a bid within the last 1 min. it will remain open for an additional 1 min.

– If any further bidding occurs, the extension timer will reset to 1 min.
– If no further bidding activity occurs, the lot closes when the timer runs out.

Bidders are urged and cautioned not to wait until the final seconds of the auction to place bids. Bids not recognized by the auction software when the time expires will not be accepted.

When the auction closes, each lot will display either SOLD or ENDED.

SOLD indicates the reserve (if there is a reserve) was met, a payment email will be sent to the high bidder.

ENDED indicates the reserve was not met. In this case, CWSAMS will ask the seller if they will accept the high bid. If the seller accepts the high bid, an email notice confirming the approval will be sent to the high bidder, along with payment instructions.

Make sure you are logged in.  Go to My Profile (click on your name which appears in the top navigation menu).  You may edit your registration information.

Go to Forgot Password and enter your email address. An email will be sent to you to reset your password.

Real Property Live Auctions

Typically, auctions are held “on-site” at the property location. In addition, some live auctions may be held at a local meeting place, such as a hotel ballroom or a convention center.

First, read the property information and Terms of Sale on the website for the specific property you are interested in.  Attend a scheduled open house.  Register to bid at the auction location the day of sale during the registration period.  You must bring a valid government issued photo ID and the required cashier’s check deposit to register.  A bidder number will be issued upon completion of registration.  Click here to view the bidder registration form. This form can be printed out and completed prior to the auction. You do not need to mail or fax the completed form, just bring it to the auction to register. Forms will also be available at the auction. You should read and understand the Terms of Sale before you bid. Sales personnel at the auction site can answer any questions you may have.

If you cannot attend the auction, you may submit a written bid by sending a completed written bid form and the required cashier’s check deposit made payable to CWS Marketing Group, Inc.  Mail the Written Bid Form and the cashier’s check to: CWS, U.S. Department of the Treasury Seized Real Property Support, 7998 Donegan Drive, Manassas VA 20109, Attn: Real Property Sales. Bids must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. one day prior to the sale date, unless otherwise stated in the Terms of Sale. Unsuccessful bids will be returned within five (5) business days by certified mail. Written bids will not be disclosed prior to the auction.

You may also send a representative to bid on your behalf by signing over temporary notarized Power of Attorney, which must include the buying party’s social security number and appropriate language for having authority to bid/purchase real estate.

To qualify to bid, a government issued photo ID and a cashier’s check deposit (amount varies) must be presented at registration. Cashier’s checks must be made payable to: CWS Marketing Group, Inc. For auctions with multiple properties, please see “When multiple properties are being sold at the same time…”.

Immediately after the bidding, the high bidder will be required to provide their deposit check as the initial earnest money deposit on the property. In most cases, the second high bidder (back-up bidder) will also be required to make a deposit. If you are not the high bidder or second high bidder, we do not collect your deposit.  The Terms of Sale will explain deposit requirements for each property. This deposit is non-refundable. Personal or business checks, money orders, cash, credit cards, bank letters, or letters of credit will not be accepted.

If you are not the winning bidder, we do not collect your deposit. Simply return the check to your bank for deposit.  You should check with your bank on their procedures for re-depositing checks.

The opening bid is directed by the auctioneer and initiated by the auction participants.  In the event that a written bid had been submitted, the auctioneer may start the bidding at the written bid amount.

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