Guest Blog: 6 Things to Watch Out for During a Storage Auction

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Despite all the stories you’ve heard of people striking it rich at storage auctions, unfortunately there are incidents of fraudulent activity. Whenever you attend self-storage auctions, it’s important to err on the side of caution, tread lightly, and look for questionable behavior. Below is a list of six things to look for to ensure that you do not get swindled.
If a unit has been in default for any period of time, there is sure to be some dust on the items. If you cannot see any dust, be apprehensive.
staged storage auction

Staged Lockers

If a locker looks too good to be true, this very well may be the case. Be on the lookout for an overabundance of electronics boxes, as it’s fairly easy for a con to rummage through the trashcan behind a Best Buy and collect empty boxes. Also, be wary of storage units that have boxes with large labels that read: “antiques” or “old baseball cards.”

Open Boxes

This usually is an indication that someone has rummaged through the locker. Perhaps the management has gone in and examined the items, or more likely, the tenant removed all the valuables before he or she let their unit go into default. Either way, do not bid on lockers with open boxes.

Co-conspiring Auctioneers and Bidders

It’s important to remember that auctioneers receive 10% of the proceeds; hence, it is in their incentive to drive up bids whenever possible. On occasion an unscrupulous auctioneer with co-conspire with a bidder to drive up the price on a particular unit. Whenever you are at an auction, be on the lookout for auctioneers and bidders speaking to one another surreptitiously. In my opinion, if you see this at any point, it’s best to abstain from bidding at this auction.


lock on storage unitBefore the management cuts the lock, take a close look at it. If it looks brand new, this this could be an indication that someone has tampered with the storage locker. Of course, if there isn’t a lock on the unit at all, this is a red flag.

Multiple Units in Default by Same Tenant

If multiple units are in default by the same tenant, it’s best to avoid these, as it could be an indication that a tenant is playing a “shell game.” This is when an unscrupulous tenant moves all his or her valuables into one unit, pays the rent on that particular unit, and lets their remaining storage units go into default. Savvy facility managers are on the lookout for this trick, but it does occasionally happen unbeknownst to the auctioneers and onsite management.


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