I think I found something… how do I know for sure?

Hey guys,

So… you’ve bought a storage unit. You’ve followed our tips on digging it and sorting through it, you’ve followed our tips on selling items at a garage sale, or on eBay/Craigslist, and getting the most for your money.

Now, you’re down to those few items that you either think are worth something or you aren’t sure and don’t want to sell a treasure worth thousands to someone for $1 accidentally, so you’re just holding on to them. And that pile is accumulating quickly. How do you find out what it is that you have before you can’t see your desk anymore?

1. Compile a database of links for helping you figure these things out and use them often. Here’s a few that I’ve found, as well as a few that other contributors on this site have found:

Hot Wheels Values Database – http://texashwcollectors.org/hwguide.html
China and China Pattern Values http://www.replacements.com
US Stamps – http://values.hobbizine.com/stamps/index.html
Coins – Brian at Storage Heroes is an expert. E-mail him at storageheroes@gmail.com
Gold & Silver – Same as above, I can help with that too!
Precious Metals (up to the minute prices) – http://www.kitco.com
Golf Clubs – http://golfclubbrokers.com/
Sports Memorabilia – Beckett is the best, but there’s a charge. http://www.beckett.com/
Sports Memorabilia (free) – http://rackrs.com/
Records –http://www.popsike.com/
Art – http://www.askart.com/AskART/index.aspx
Electronics – http://www.gazelle.com/
Books – http://www.Addall.com/

2. If there’s no database on what you have, maybe you can find one, or more information by doing a Google search.

When Google searching, the best thing to do (in my opinion) is to list any type of name or serial number in quotations, followed by any additional descriptors you can offer. The quotations will keep your phrases together. In other words, if you google search for BROWN PIANO, it will find things that have either brown or piano in the title, but “brown piano” will only list results of brown pianos, if that makes sense. Be as specific as possible. If there is a serial number, manufacturer, or any other identifying marks on the piece, that’s obviously the best place to start. Why search for “brown piano” when you can search for a Casio AP-220 Celviano 88-Key Digital piano, for example. That’s kind of a no brainer.

Also, you may not know this, but Google has subsites that are also quite helpful. http://Shopping.google.com (or just select “shopping” from the menu bar when you search) can show you prices of items, both new and used. It’s a great, super-fast way to determine an estimate of something in a hurry, like during an auction.

Google Images is also super helpful for if you know what you’re looking for and you want to see pictures of different varieties. Really helpful for identifying matchbox cars or stamps.

3. Look up experts in your area and ask them (a last resort for me, because many of them charge you a fee, and you have travel/gas/time sometimes wasted). Plus, especially when they want to buy the item from you, you can never be sure that what they are telling you is legitimate/accurate.

4. Check eBay for values – But make sure to base your valuation of the item on what it has SOLD for, not on what people are ASKING for it.

Looking up your treasures is definitely a time and labor intensive project, but the alternative is letting someone else make YOUR profit because they weren’t lazy. That’s definitely not what we want, so get to work!

Until next time,

Rebecca Fox

8,493 total views, 16 views today

Rebecca Fox

2 thoughts on “I think I found something… how do I know for sure?

  1. Ray,
    The truth is, you don’t…
    I have done storage auctions for years and there are a few things to consider if this is a concern to you, as this is a real possibility.
    One thing is that a former tenant has return rights all the way up to the time you clean out the unit, or live auction up until the gavel goes down…
    So technically they could return and get their stuff, even after you bought it…
    This means that if the storage facility goes through a locker and the owner comes back.. could be a lawsuit against them…
    But if a locker has been abandoned for a long time, they will also know this.. and it gives them a possible motive to go through it.
    Also there are some storage facilities that might “stock” a unit or load it with junk or stuff, just to sell it for profit.. Also buyers have been known to work with Storage facilities to load units then resell them..
    also I have heard where buyer will rent a unit, fill it up, then default on the payments so that the unit goes to auction… once the facilities have recovered the back charges, any other money must be returned to the property owners….
    This can happen with or without a facilities knowledge of course…
    I always look at what a locker contains, are the boxes clean and sealed ? Is there junk everywhere? What’s the condition of the items in the unit.. do you see anything that’s obviously expensive? Don’t always trust boxes that appear to contain something like flat screen TVs… If it looks clean, it’s probably Good… also facilities are required to advertise in a local legal newspaper to the previous owners before they can auction off units… find the legal paper and compare the units listed with the ones being sold… if some are not listed then be suspicious… of why they are being sold..
    hope this helps people who are trying to learn …

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