Your First Storage Unit Auction: How To Prepare And What To Expect

14 February 2017
 Categories: , Articles


With television shows presenting them as the latest and greatest way to make a bargain, storage unit auctions are becoming more popular than ever. If you'd like to try your hand at buying and reselling items for a profit, then perhaps you've decided to attend one. Storage auctions can be enjoyable, and there are people who make money off of them. However, it's important that you have a realistic idea of what to expect before you attend your first one. Here's a look.

It's An Informal Affair

Storage unit auctions are not sanctioned by some big, governing body. They're not usually even run by professional auctioneers. Usually, they're a last-ditch attempt of the storage facility to at least make back some of the money they've lost when a storage unit has been abandoned and unpaid for. 

Every facility is different, there many not be any written rules, and the auction may not start on time. Consider showing up at one storage auction with no intention to bid before you actually attend one with the intent to participate. This way, you'll get acquainted with the people running the auction and their process.

The Auctioneer Will Move From Unit To Unit

Some potential bidders show up thinking that they'll get to take a look at all of the units available and then decide which ones they want to bid on. But this strategy won't work because, typically, the auctioneer moves from one unit to the next, auctioning off the units one at a time. You'll have to decide whether or not to bid on Unit #3 without the luxury of comparing it to Unit #4 or Unit #5.

Some days there will be a bunch of units to auction off; other times there may be one or two. To avoid showing up and having nothing to bid on, you can call the storage facility the morning of the auction and ask how many they're selling that day.

Prices Vary Widely

The price you pay for a storage unit can range from 50 cents to thousands of dollars. It all depends who shows up, how many people show up, and what is visible from outside the unit. Note that you won't typically be allowed to go in and fully look around a unit before the bidding starts. You'll just get to look at the contents from the outside. If you see a big, ornate chest, you'll have to guess whether it's empty or filled with valuable silks -- and base your bids on your best hunch. 

Note that all payments must typically be made in cash. Stop by the bank on your way to the auction.

You must be prepared to haul your new items away.

When you bid on a unit, you are bidding on everything in that unit. You can't buy just a dresser or just a box of appliances. So, you must be prepared to haul away an entire storage unit full of things, which is quite a lot. If you have a pickup truck, you're probably all set -- though you may need to make two trips. If you only have a small car, renting a moving truck for the day may be worthwhile, especially if you plan on bidding on multiple units.

Some storage facilities will hold the items for you for a day or so after you win them at auction. However, they usually want to get them cleared away as soon as possible so they can rent the unit out again, so it's not unusual for them to require buyers to haul the items away the same day.

To learn more about the bidding process at a storage auction, contact the specific storage facility you hope to visit.