Bidding at Storage Unit Auctions

Bidding for a storage unit at an auction is exciting. It is heart pounding. And it can be full of the same angst and thrill as an action movie! But, before you bid, you need to know what to look for in the unit because not every storage unit is worth the trouble. If you own a shop that specializes in resale items, storage unit auctions is definitely the place you want to be. If you are a collector of priceless antiques, storage unit auctions is probably not going to provide you with much on the priceless side of things. But, there are always treasures to be found and strange items to discover.

Probably the first rule of thumb in the storage unit auction world is to not get caught up in the excitement. If you get overly enthusiastic during the bidding process, you may over bid. A trick to the overbidding problem is to set a limit for what you are willing to spend on each auction. You may have set your budget at $500. If they open the door to the storage unit and it is full of exquisite furniture and collectables, then that $500 has a pretty good chance of being spent in full at that one unit. Where as you could buy four units if they don’t go for very much. Either way, set the maximum amount that you want to spend and stick with it. When quickly estimating what a unit may be worth, a trick is to calculate at $10 per box of possible value. If you see about thirty boxes, that is $300 of value. So, you should only bid $150 on the unit since you want to double your money. Estimate from the point of what you may sell the items for and bid half of that value. This will more than likely keep you from losing money on your investment.

Using your nose is a requirement in this line of business. When the auctioneer throws open the door of a unit for you to get a quick peek, have your nose ready to smell anything that may waft out. The mothball smell is a good sign that things have been stored properly and may have some value. If it is a musty smell, you know things have been sitting in there for a while and there may be decay. If it has a bad smell, you can back up and walk away. Depending on what that bad smell is, the auction still has to happen and there have been many of these that the unit sold for just $1 so that the unit could be emptied. If it smells rotted and is strong, everything in the unit could have been permeated with the stench and will not be able to be recovered. If it is a dirty smell, you may be able to get it out with loads of washing and cleaning. And… if it is cat… nothing ever seems to get that smell out!!

Another thing to look for before you decide to bid on a unit is if there are organized boxes. If the unit seems extremely clean and the boxes, (especially if they are plastic), are stored on shelves or in neat stable piles, it is likely that they have things in them that have some value.A clean unit also means that the owner took care of their things and it could all be in good condition and be of value. If the area around the storage facilities is on the higher end of the economic scale, the things in storage could be of higher end too because people use storage facilities near their homes.

If you bid and win an auction, it needs to be paid for in cash. Auctioneers and storage facilities do not accept checks, debit or credit cards for units that have been won. And they will not hold your unit while you run to the ATM. You need to be prepared with cash in hand if you are planning on bidding. You will also need locks to put on a unit that you just bid on and won. The storage unit needs to be emptied out quickly and putting your lock on it will save it until later in the day when you can start loading the contents. Then, before you even begin the day and the bidding process, you will need to consider that if you win a unit, where does it go afterwards? You will need a truck or vehicle that can carry a large amount of stuff and a location where you can stuff it!! Furniture, appliances, pianos all need to go to a location, even if it your barn or garage, where it can be divided and inventoried and then decided where it will go.

For some reason, if a storage unit auction is held during the week, Monday is a terrible day to go because it is very crowded. So the bidding will go high because of the competition for the unit. Mondays are usually filled with the people who make a living buying units and then either distributing to or selling to thrift and bargain stores. If you wait until later in the week to attend, you will have less of a crowd and less competition and lower bidding prices.

Keep in mind that when you bid and if you win, you have to remove everything in the unit immediately unless you make arrangement with the facility. And these arrangements will more than likely cost some money. You will need to dress for dirty work and for standing long hours during the bidding process. And...make sure the vehicle you have can fit it all. If you have to leave things behind for a second load, you may have to pay.

Storage unit auctions are fun and exciting. And if you know what to expect and how to do it, they can be profitable. Many interesting businesses have been born from a storage unit auction. Thrift stores, Repurposed shops, Ebay stores and even costume shops have emerged from an afternoon spent bidding on a storage unit auction!

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