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Storage Auctions: A First Timers Experience

Updated on May 17, 2020
carrie Lee Night profile image

Carrie would like to share her first hand experience when she attended a storage Auction. Was it everything she hoped it would be?

What Kind Of Treasures Did I Win ?


Real Experiences For Real People

My husband and I attended our first storage unit auction in April of 2012. It was an eye opening experience. We wanted to experience all the hype of storage auction reality shows on television. In reality, the auction was a little more different than what we were anticipating, however, we did enjoy it. Unfortunately, we did not bid on any of the twenty units available because quite honestly for us, it was not worth the money and we did not have adequate storage space readily available. I wanted to write this article to inform first timers what to expect. Keep in mind that all auction experiences are different, so with that said here are some things to consider:

1. Expect Crowds: With auction shows gaining popularity on television, the auction may more crowded than you are prepared for. On television, you never see the large crowds, this may be due to editing or staging. The auction that my husband and I went to there were about 250 people registered to bid, not including family members and friends that tagged along. The confined crowd was similar to a rock concert and if you have issues with personal space or second hand smoke, you may want to pass.

2. Time Restrictions: On TV it seems like they had at least two minutes or so to evaluate the storage unit, but for us we had about ten seconds to look and that was it. People were complaining and getting hostile because some did not get a chance to look in the storage units at all. With over 200 people behind us shoving and pushing their way forward to get a glimpse of the units, it was difficult to decide if you wanted to bid on it. Also you have to pay close attention to what unit you are bidding on, the auction moved at a very fast pace.

3. Be Prepared And Have A Game Plan: This may sound the same, but is different. Preparation is before the auction and the game plan is during and after the auction. If it is an outdoor storage facility, know the weather before you go, so you can be dressed comfortably. Parents, due to the possibility of large crowds, I would not recommend bringing small children, people can be rude and the kids could get injured. Buy a padlock so that if you buy a storage unit you will be able to properly secure its contents. Bring a small flashlight so you can see a little more of what’s inside the darker areas of the unit. If you are emptying out your unit the same day, make sure you have gloves, bug spray and trash bags. If you find personal information like social security numbers, bank account information, credit card information etc. it should be turned over to the management of the storage facility. Any contraband contents like firearms should be reported to the local authorities, you may not be able to keep it or sell it.

You should have a plan for affordable moving and storage of the contents that you now own. The best case scenario is you already lease a storage unit in a same facility where the auction is taking place, that way you can just transfer it to your unit, just make sure you have the extra space. Keep in mind, you may have to keep your unit contents for a while. Last but not least, have a budget in mind. Also only bid on a unit you are really interested in, if you blow all your money on an average unit, you may be disappointed later. Be aware of those people who just bid to hike up the price, if the price becomes ridiculous back out of the bidding.

4. Expect Nothing and Have Fun: We did not go to the auction expecting to quit our day jobs or get rich. We simply went to experience something new and to have a good time. On a positive note the auction we went to the bidding prices did not go as high as they did on TV. I think it all depends on the bidders and the area you live in.

If you are interested in making this a real profit making opportunity I suggest talking to people who have been in the business for a while to learn the insider pros and cons. Some tips may include:

1. Choosing the right type of storage auctions in areas that may have a greater chance of the units having more valuables.

2. Building rapport with different types of auctioneers, vendors and sellers so you have marketing support. Have rapport with historians, appraisers and experts in specific fields like firearms, jewelry, watches, paper money and coins etc. Using their resources will make it easier to determine the value of an item.

3. Familiarity with antiques, history and artwork. Do your research! You don’t want to throw out something that is worth a lot of money just because it looks like junk.

4. Find ways to limit out of pocket expenses like storage fees, moving trucks and trash removal.

Happy treasure hunting!!!!

When Bidding On A Storage Unit, What Are You Looking For ?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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