Online Auctions Improve Returns on the Sale of Repossessed Vehicles

By marketing repossessions on the Internet, either on their own site or that of a third-party agent, credit unions are able to reach a larger segment of both members and nonmembers


Independent C&A research made possible by:

Credit unions are increasingly leveraging Internet technology to secure higher prices on the sale of repossessed vehicles. The online option is particularly attractive to smaller credit unions that lack a critical mass of repossessed vehicles to justify significant expenditures on the remarketing process. Many credit unions – particularly those located in remote geographic locations – suffer far greater losses on the sale of repossessed collateral than their larger peers that are able to develop relationships with repossession and remarketing agents. By marketing repossessions on the Internet, either on their own site or that of a third-party agent, credit unions are able to reach a larger segment of both members and nonmembers, who are able to monitor the bidding process from the convenience of their homes or offices.

Some new technologies now enable credit unions to sell their repossessed vehicles through their own Web sites, as well as through a vendor partner’s proprietary auction site. Some even allow credit unions to conduct eBay-style competitive bid auctions for vehicles on their sites.

Instead of using a traditional dealer auction, Affinity Federal Credit Union (New Jersey, $1.3 billion) has sold off-lease vehicles and a small number of repossessions through its own site,, for several years. The credit union has gradually integrated into Affinity’s site,, as well as its overall remarketing strategy. Affinity uses to support the sale of more than 50 vehicles per month, securing higher prices than the credit union would receive through dealer auctions and generating substantial loan volume through resales.

Auction companies are also taking advantage of improved Internet technology to boost sales of repossessions. On May 4, 2004, one such company hosted an industry-first, nationwide auction of vehicles valued at $100,000 or more. More than 300 dealers attended both the live sale, where 70 of the vehicles were on site, and the remaining 13 ultra-luxury automobiles were viewed using a “Cinema Sale” which displayed digital images, electronic reports, and other information to bidding dealers at the live sale or online via Simulcast. Of the 83 vehicles presented, 36 sold for a total of $4.2 million or an average of approximately $117,000.

Online auctions and Internet retail sites are not the optimal disposition channels for all vehicles; indeed, credit unions that maximize sales of repossessed vehicles typically use a multi-channel approach to strategically determine appropriate disposition channels on an individual vehicle basis. However, the Internet remains an under-utilized option that many credit unions could use to augment their remarketing efforts, particularly as technology becomes increasingly advanced and affordable.

This article is based on a just published research study conducted by Callahan & Associates. This independent Callahan research study was made possible through sponsorship by TitleAuctions. For more information on how credit unions are leveraging the Internet to increase returns on the sale of their repossessed vehicles, click here.

About the sponsor: TitleAuctions delivers robust, Internet-based competitive-bid auction tools to lenders, dealers and community portals nationwide. With the TitleAuctions venue, local lenders, neighborhood dealers and community portals can increase their profits by combining the power of competitive bidding with the trust that comes from local relationships. Contact TitleAuctions at 877.223.5806 or




Aug. 16, 2004



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