Because of television shows like “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters,” more and more people want to get into storage auctions. The allure is that many of these abandoned storage units can house some valuable stuff (and just as many are full of worthless garbage). Most auction bidders purchase the storage locker contents either to flip the items for a profit or to find antiques and other memorabilia to collect. Before bidding on a storage unit, there are some things to know to increase your chances for success at scouting self-storage auctions.
How does a storage unit go into default?
When storage locker renters have not paid their rental fees for three consecutive months, their units go up for auction. The storage unit renters are legally required to be notified that their rental unit will be auctioned and on what date the auction will happen. At any time before the auction begins, the owner of the contents of the storage locker can pay off the back rent and stop the auction from going through.
How to scout a storage unit up for auction.
Once the lock is removed on a storage unit and rolling doors are lifted, you need to have a sharp eye for detail in order to quickly size up the unit to see if it’s worth your time. Potential bidders are not allowed to touch anything or go inside the storage unit. You’ll find that most items in a storage locker are actually boxed up in cardboard boxes or stashed in storage chests. There may be furniture with drawers in the unit that’s also housing additional items inside. You have to look at the locker as a whole and determine if the person who owned it has money / is a collector / has good taste. If for example you see books on coin collecting on a bookshelf in the unit, it might be worth bidding on the unit as there could be some coins stashed somewhere in the unit.
Go for nice storage units and skip the trash.
Not all storage units are filled with valuable items and are therefore not worth your time. If a unit looks disheveled or smells, stay away. Storage units that are organized and neat are more likely to contain valuable items. Gold and jewelry are likely to be found in safes, storage chests often contain collectibles and toolboxes can have very valuable tools. It’s important to remember that everything must be removed from the storage unit, including the trash. That’s why you want to stay away from units that are full of junk, especially units with rotting food that will attract vermin like mice and roaches. Some people just drop off their stuff and never bother to open their units in all the time that they have rented it. People generally have about 24 hours to clear the unit and get all the stuff loaded onto your truck or van. Also make sure you take care of all the junk you don’t want to keep as you’ll be required to dispose of it yourself.
Storage auction bidding strategies
Not all storage auctions take check or credit cards, so call ahead. It’s best to set a budget and bring that much cash with you to the auction. Here are some bidding tips to help increase your chances of storage auction success.
- Size up your competition. Many people attending storage auctions aren’t there to bid but just to watch and be part of the excitement.
- Size up the value of the unit. Most standard storage units will go for between $200 to $500. Some units will have vehicles / heavy equipment / nice furniture / appliances / expensive tools / musical instruments and will go for more than a thousand dollars based on these items that are in plain view. A small unit with only a few items might go for less than $50.
- Don’t get in a “winning” mindset. People who start bidding against each other get locked into a mindset where they have to “win” and “beat” the other person. But you are only bidding for the privilege of paying for an item, and if you get too excited during a bidding war, you could end up blowing your budget and overpaying. Set out before hand the max you’re willing to pay for a unit and as soon as the auction goes over that amount, bow out. There’s always more storage units to look at.