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Storage Auctions Exposed Bidding and Buying Advice Don't get Scammed

Updated on December 3, 2016

Buying Storage Lockers At Auction

After fifteen years of going to storage locker auctions I've have pretty much seen and heard it all. I I written a series of articles on HubPages that will inform and expose the storage locker business and their auctions.

What To Do First at the Storage Locker Auction

I like to get to the storage facility office early. This gives me an opportunity to chat with the employees or owners. Once you get established as a regular serious player they usually won't mind answering a few questions. As I am registering for the auction I start to ask some basic questions starting with. How many lockers are going to be auctioned. Keep in mind If the auction was posted for 12:00 noon that day the locker owners legally have right up pay their bill right up until 12:00. Next I ask what are the sizes of lockers to be auctioned because they come in many sizes such as small, medium, and large. It is very important to find out how full the lockers are since being just large in size doesn't mean they are full of stuff. I also ask in which order they are to be auctioned this is important because you don't want to run out of cash buying a bunch of small crappy units if the large units with the best merchandise are to be auctioned off last. Finally I ask are any of the lockers owned by the same person, this is important because if you don't buy both you could end up with lots of missing parts.

Some storage facilities will take a picture of all the items from outside the locker before the sale. Sometimes if you know them and ask they will show you these. This can give you a good leg up on the competition so you know which ones you want to bid on. Once the auction starts I can use all this information to plot my auction strategy.

Storage Locker Bidding And Buying Advice

First and foremost do not get into a bidding war with someone who has more money than brains. Some of these people are bidding like crazy just to protect what they see as their home turf. There are occasions when bidders will try to intimidate you with aggressive body language and loud verbal comments. My advice is to stay calm and let your bidding do your talking. Remember you are there to make money not to compete with the knuckle heads.

Here's what I do first, I like to see if the unit makes sense to me I will give you an example. If the locker has toys, cribs, and bags of clothing the unit is most likely owned by a woman with kids therefore the odds of finding anything of real value in a locker like this are slim to none. On the other hand if you see tool boxes fishing poles, hunting and related items It then stands to reason the rest of the stuff you can't see is guy stuff and tends to be worth good bucks. I tend to be very suspicious of lockers when they look thrown together with unrelated items. Another thing that sets off red flags are lockers full of nothing but boxes you can't see into buying these units are a complete gamble because how can you make sense of something you cannot see. So, I tend to pass on these lockers unless they are really cheap.

Perhaps the biggest red flag is the open gun-safe ruse, owners and managers of storage facilities routinely place safes front and center when the door rolls up to stimulate bidding and believe me it works I have seen units like this go through the roof and there's usually nothing in them but junk. Meanwhile back at the office they are lighting victory cigars at your expense.

Heavy boxes when stacked will look smashed by the weight of each other. Boxes like this could be anything from tools, books, d├ęcor, housewares, basically what we in the business call "smalls". Boxes that are light keep their shape and will tend to have plastic toys, Halloween, Christmas and birthday decorations in them this stuff is practically worthless and ends up in the dumpster. Good signs to look for are dirt, dust, and cobwebs I like these sign because, it tells me this locker has been there for a long time and has not been disturbed and picked over by the renter or owner of the facility.

This is how I try to estimate my locker bid. Let's say I can see 50% of what's inside the locker and it looks like good stuff, I then try to figure out the resale value of what I can see because I at least want to make my money back so this sets my bid. I am gambling that the 50% I can't see will be worth at least as much as the the 50% I could see so hopefully this becomes my profit. When it comes to bidding I tend to sit back and let the small money bidders fight it out first, once it gets down to the last 2 bidders and the auctioneer says last chance, going once, going twice I jump in. Now the last bidder who thought he had it in the bag has a new fight he was hoping for. From this point on I don't hesitate bidding right up to my limit win or lose time to move on to the next unit, you can't take it personal or at least you shouldn't that's how you lose money.

Eventually after you go to enough auctions you'll get to know most of the other bidders and that we all have the same goal which is to make money. It is not uncommon to extend a professional courtesy to other top buyers rather than beat each others brains out running up bids against each other. Guys I know have actually come up to me and said, "I really need smalls can you work with me," or something to that effect, so I may or may not lay off it's not a given depending on my own needs that's something everyone in the business understands. After the bidding the guy will usually say something or tip his cap if he knows you've laid off bidding against him and later down the road at another auction hopefully the favor gets paid back.

Storage Unit Does Not Make Sense

Don't walk, run! Not a safe buy. Nothing but a gamble.
Don't walk, run! Not a safe buy. Nothing but a gamble.

Storage Unit That Makes Sense

This unit is very easy to read. You can clearly see the most of the contents. This locker would be easy to figure out a bid.
This unit is very easy to read. You can clearly see the most of the contents. This locker would be easy to figure out a bid.

After the Storage Locker Auction

.Once the auction is over, it's time to go back to the office and pay. If the auction method was a silent sealed bid everybody goes back to the office to open the bids. Experienced bidders like to crowd around the counter when the paper bids are being opened and try to look at their competitors bids. They will even hang around when you are paying hoping they can hear the office worker say the sale price or see your receipt. They do this so next time they will have a better idea of how much more or less to bid against you. I take my time and wait to be the last person to pay, by then most of the spies LOL have paid left. I have even been known to ask the office worker to keep the transaction quite right in front of people if needed.

Processing Your Locker

Once you get your winnings home the fun begins. I like to use rubber totes to separate all the smalls and clothing. Totes are nice because you can store them outside if space is an issue. Hopefully you have planned ahead for the large amount of trash you are going to have. I always rented a 4 cubic yard dumpster for this. I also had a backhoe to compress the trash in the dumpster to save money. Another great way to get rid of unwanted clothing is to take them to charity donation bins.

I like to sort outside next to my dumpster as this keeps any mice, roaches, and snakes out of my building. I Look I look through everything very carefully, because money or jewelry can be hidden in clothing, pill bottles, shoes, etc. I always have lots cleaning supplies on hand because many of the items you are going to get will require some cleaning or repair.

Refrigerators and freezers if they have been in storage for a long time usually have mold in them. I just leave them in the trailer and drive them straight down to the car wash. I spray them down with bleach wait a few minutes and spray them out. A talent you will definitely need to develop is the refinishing if you hope get any money out of your furniture because they are usually scratched or even broken from all the moving.

Not One Locker Makes Sense at This Auction. Looks Like the Same Person Owned them All. Amazing That They Happen to Have All the Titles for Those Scooters.

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