Storage Auctions: Finding the Diamond in the Rough

hammer-27118_960_720If you've been in the buy-sell storage auction business for any significant length of time, you probably know that not every unit you come across contains valuables. Sure, some of them may contain high-dollar items like vintage furniture, jewelry, collectable dolls, sports memorabilia, etc, but others contain nothing more than empty boxes. Rather than bidding on each and every unit you come across, you should use your best judgement to determine whether or not it's valuable. So, how do you find this "diamond in the rough?"

Target the Right Storage Auctions

First and foremost, make sure you target the right storage auctions. While there are always exceptions to this rule, you'll typically find units of more value in cities and regions with an above-average median household income. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that cities in which families earn more money will have storage auctions of greater value. So, do your homework beforehand to identify cities such as this, focusing your storage auction efforts here instead of elsewhere.

Look for the Signs

Of course, you'll need to keep an eye out for signs of value when searching for storage auctions. As you may already know, bidders typically get just a couple minutes to look inside the unit once the auctioneer cuts the lock. You can't touch any of the items, but you can still shine your light to see what's inside. Use this time wisely to determine whether or not the unit is worth bidding on.

Some signs of a valuable storage unit include the following:

  • Cleanliness (clean storage units typically contain more valuables than dirty ones)
  • Plastic totes and containers instead of cardboard boxes
  • Name-brand products
  • High-dollar items in plain sight

Smart Bidding

One of the biggest mistakes newcomer make to the buy-sell storage auction business is basing their bids on what they hope is inside the unit. There's nothing wrong with being optimistic, but you should base your bids on what you see and not what you hope to find; otherwise, there's a strong chance that you'll come out on the losing end of the end, without turning a profit. So once the auctioneer cuts the lock, look inside to determine how much the unit's contents are worth. Add up the total fair-market value of all the items you see, and use this as your maximum bid. As long as you don't bid over this amount, should turn a profit on the unit.


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