Tips for Buying Storage Units

Tips to Buying Storage Auctions on

Tips for Buying Storage Units

Most people have seen the A&E TV series “Storage Wars”. The reality show is about a group of people who buy storage units. The content of the storage unit goes to the highest bidder, who then resells the items and makes a nice profit. Buying storage units sounds like an easy way to earn a few bucks, right? But do people make money from storage units? How do storage auctions work? Can you make money from buying storage auctions?

Storage auctions can be fun and lucrative, but to make storage unit auctions a successful business requires some preparation and homework. Read on as we have summarized some of these important tips on buying storage units. 

Types of Storage Unit Auctions

StorageTreasures has three different self storage auction types. It is essential to understand the differences.

Lien Unit: Most storage auctions on StorageTreasures are lien or abandoned storage units for sale. Storage units go up for auction when a renter defaults on the monthly rent. If the outstanding balance is paid after a specific time, the unit goes up for auction so the owners of the storage facility can recoup some of their losses.

Non-Lien/Manager’s Special: These auctions are posted by storage facility operators and private sellers when there is no lien on the unit contents. For example, a storage facility can post this auction type when a tenant agrees to abandon and sign over their rights to the unit contents to the facility. They can also post this type of auction when items are left behind by tenants vacating their units or the facility wishes to sell things they no longer need or want. A private seller, an individual or business with no affiliation to a storage facility, can post their auctions and sell merchandise to bidders looking at buying storage auctions.

Charity Storage: A charity storage unit is a specific type of auction conducted in participation with, with whom StorageTreasures is a preferred partner. Charity auctions are items donated by bidders, auction winners, tenants, and community members. If you win a charity storage auction on, the proceeds of the sale are divided as follows; 60% of the funds go to the storage facilities charity of choice, 20% goes to Kure It Cancer Research, 10% goes to the Self Storage Association Scholarship Foundation, and 10% goes to cover administration fees.

Hunt, Bid, Win, & Profit Buying Storage Auctions

To create an account, go to the registration page on StorageTreasures. Select ‘Sign Up as a Buyer,’ then fill out the form with your contact information and create a password. Once you have completed the sign-up process, add your credit card information to start buying storage units.

Hunt: Find the local storage auctions in your areas using the search tools. You can search for auctions by zip code, postal code, state, province, city, facility name, categories, and keywords with many sorting options.

Bid: Insider tip, check the ‘additional information section on each auction listing page for all facility rules and online auction regulations. The details presented are crucial and vary from auction to auction. Bids can be in $10 increments, or you can place a max bid. With the max bid, the system will automatically increase your bid by $10 until it reaches your max bid amount. If you are the high bidder, you will see a green banner on the page that says, “You are the high bidder! On a roll!”. If you are outbid, you will see a red banner on the page that says, “Outbid.”

Win:  You will be responsible for the fees and deposits as soon as the auction expires. It is also vital to consider cleanout time. Follow all detailed instructions provided in the emails you receive after winning the unit. Contact the seller as soon as the auction expires and schedule an appointment for pickup. Bring a lock to secure the unit, as you only legally take possession of the unit once you have placed your lock on the door. Ask any other questions upfront so you are prepared to clean the unit. Have your invoice and photo ID ready to show the seller. Some facilities allow credit card payments. Some require cash. You must pay the bid amount, possible sales tax, and a cleaning deposit.

If you have a Sales and Use Tax Resale Certificate, have a copy on hand you can give to the facility to remove the sales tax. It’s also a good practice to have pictures on your phone or printed showing the online listing. Suppose the images don’t match what you see in the unit; stop there. Don’t put your lock on the storage unit, and do not remove anything from the unit. Tell the facility manager you will not be taking the unit and request your money back. You will also need to request a refund from StorageTreasures. After purchase, you must remove the entire contents and sweep the unit. Be prepared to take everything with you as you cannot use the dumpsters on site. Leave the unit completely clean, so come prepared with garbage bags, trash cans, empty plastic totes, bins, and boxes. Lastly, clean the unit to a swept condition.

Once the unit is empty and inspected by the facility manager, you will get your cleaning deposit back. Be sure to read the additional information section of the auction listing for any other rules concerning the cleaning deposit.

Profit: You can sell pieces online on websites like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Mercari, or eBay. Local options include swap meets, flea markets, consignment shops, or live in-person auctions. You’ll also need to know where you can donate the items you don’t want to sell. You can get a tax deduction for donating many items.

Now that we covered the tips, are you ready to start buying storage auctions? If you still have questions visit our Help Center for everything you need to know to hunt, bid, win, and profit from buying storage auctions


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