Assessing The Value of a Self-Storage Unit
Ask any seasoned storage unit hunter and they'll agree: one of the elements of success is knowing how to accurately asses the value of a self-storage unit during the initial bidding stage. Blindly tossing out blinds without a clear indication of its value will run your wallet dry. Granted, you may still score some lucky units here and there, but blindly bidding without proper value assessment isn't a formula for long-term success.
Bid Only on What You Can See
Rather than bidding on what you think a self-storage unit contains, try bidding only on what you can see. This is a safe and effective form of assessing the value of a unit without risking your hard-earned cash. For instance, if you see a karaoke system, some golf clubs, and a couple pieces of furniture in the unit, add up the estimated selling value of each item (depreciated value, not original MSRP) and you have your max bid. You'll still want to open with a low bid, but you should stop bidding once it reaches the total selling value of the unit's visible contents.
Use Your Smartphone
If you're still using a basic mobile phone, it's time to upgrade. Bringing a smartphone to storage unit auctions will allow you to price check items on the fly -- assuming you have quality service/coverage. Once the auctioneer breaks the lock and opens the unit, start scanning for items of potential value. Ideally, you should look for brand names and model numbers, as these are easy to cross-reference on your smartphone. Just open up your mobile web browser and Google the item's manufacturer and/or model number. You may find some listings from Amazon, eBay or Craigslist, all of which can prove useful in determining the price of an item.
While there are always exceptions to this rule, clean self-storage units typically hold more value than dirty units. People who store items of value in their storage unit tend to keep it clean; it's just that simple. Don't be afraid to increase your bids just slightly on a self-storage unit that's clean and free of debris.
Plastic Storage Bins vs Cardboard Box
Another key indication of a valuable self-storage unit is the presence of plastic storage bins. Most people toss their items in cardboard boxes before placing them in a self-storage unit. People who storage valuable items, on the other hand, often use plastic bins. They cost more, but they also offer greater protection against moisture, dust, dirt, insects, etc.