Bidding on storage units is fun and exciting, but you might notice many canceled storage auctions as you get started. Canceled storage auctions are frustrating for buyers (it is the number one complaint we hear from bidders.) Many bidders think storage operators cancel units because the top bid did not go high enough, or maybe the manager decided to sell it to somebody else, under the table. They worry the sellers know who is bidding on their units, and they don’t want to sell the unit to certain people (the delinquent tenant).
Bidders, especially those new to storage auctions, don’t realize a lot happens behind the scenes before a unit goes to sale. There is paperwork, payment plans, legal ads, last-minute payments, and many other things that could result in canceled units. Last year, 47% of all units posted on StorageTreasures were canceled for many different reasons. Here are four of the most common reasons storage auctions get canceled.
The Tenant Pays Their Bill
Tenant payments absolutely, 100% happen — and often at the very last minute. An auction could be canceled minutes before it closes, or the sale could even be canceled before you arrive at the facility to claim a unit you won at auction and take possession. Legally, the property still belongs to the tenant until you pay for your bid and place a lock on the unit. This is why it is crucial to call the facility before you go to pick up your unit. To see more about taking possession of a storage unit, click here.
I have worked in the self storage industry for 12 years, and I have seen many, many tenants pay their bills at the last minute. In the case of live auctions, they even show up during the auction to try to pay their bill. I once saw a woman throw herself on the floor in front of her units to stop the auction in progress. Last-minute payments are widespread. They likely made up the majority of the 47% of canceled storage auctions on StorageTreasures last year.
An Error in the Lien Enforcement Process
The steps a storage operator must go through to sell a delinquent tenant’s unit are lengthy and complicated. The laws are vague and must be followed precisely. As you might have guessed, most storage facility managers do not come with a law degree, so mistakes are very easy to make. For example, many states require 15 days between the first legal ad and the date of sale. Easy enough, but do you count the day of the ad and the day of the sale? What happens if a holiday jumps in there and the newspaper is not posting legal ads that week? What happens if the newspaper spells the tenant’s name wrong? There are so many places for error in the process.
Operators do not want to have canceled storage auctions. Processing a tenant for auction is a cumbersome, expensive process. If they have an error in the paperwork, they have to start the entire process over from the beginning. There are fees for sending letters, legal ads and hiring an auction company. In addition to all of this, they still cannot re-rent the unit to a paying tenant. A paperwork error is a lose-lose situation for a storage operator.
Unauthorized Items in a Storage Unit
Often, a facility manager will open a unit door, take a quick inventory, and not realize that something they cannot sell might be in the unit. After they list the unit, they might see a headlight for a vehicle in the back of the unit. They will now need to perform a VIN search with the local motor vehicle department before listing the unit for vehicle sales. Other examples of items that cannot be sold are modified shotguns or assault rifles. The facility manager may have posted the units online without knowing these things are in the unit, and a supervisor later sees the prohibited items and cancels the auction.
The Auction Listing is Incorrect
In addition to following the lien process strictly, the storage operator has an obligation to you, as a buyer, to present correct information on the auction listing. The facility manager might post a unit and realize they put the wrong auction date or time. They can edit the auction up until the time the first bid is placed. After the first bid is placed, they can no longer edit the listing. They will have to cancel the unit and repost it. This is why you might see the unit pop back up on StorageTreasures a few days or weeks later.
Pictures can be wrong as well. To err is human. Managers might have hundreds of unit pictures on their computers and quickly select the wrong one when uploading units. Hopefully, they find the mistake and cancel the unit BEFORE you bid on it and win. They will likely need to cancel the unit and repost it with the correct pictures if they do.
Buyers successfully bought over 100,000 units last year and many of them for excellent prices, even after many units were canceled. Go to www.StorageTreasures.com NOW to find your next big win!
Buying a unit at a storage auction is more complicated than it might seem. Television shows make it look so easy – find an auction, outbid the competition, discover epic treasure! However, storage auctions are just like any other business in the world; there are rules. Familiarize yourself with these rules to be successful.
Bidding is a fascinating part of the auction process, but winning is the ultimate goal. Once you’ve landed your first unit, everything moves very quickly. First thing, you will get your winning bidder email. You will only have 24 to 72 hours from the sale’s close to empty the unit. Plan early to get into the office to pay your winning bid amount. After you pay, remove the unit’s contents (without using the facility dumpster), and devise a plan to resell your winnings. It might be easy to overlook some essential steps. See below for tips to follow after you win an auction on StorageTreasures.
Contact the Facility
After you win a unit, the first thing you should do is contact the facility to confirm the unit is still available. A very frustrating, albeit legally required, part of online storage auctions is the delinquent tenant gets a little extra time to pay their bill. In an online auction, the tenant can pay up until you take possession of the unit. To take possession, you go to the facility, pay the bid amount, and place your lock on the unit. If you win a great unit and think there is a possibility the tenant might make a last-minute payment, you will want to get to the facility as quickly as possible.
Bring Items Needed to Claim the Unit
There are a few items you will need to be able to pick up your unit. Always bring a copy of your driver’s license or other identification. You can have other people pick up your units for you, but you will need to list them as an authorized pickup person on your account. If an authorized pickup person goes in your place to claim the unit, they will need to show their ID. See the image below for where to enter a person authorized for pickup.
You will also need to bring cash for the bid amount, possible sales tax, and a cleaning deposit. Some facilities allow credit card payments. Be sure to check the Additional Information section on the auction listing for all facility rules and online auction regulations. 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. You will get your money back once you have cleaned the unit to a swept condition.
Remember to bring a lock to secure the unit. You do not legally take possession of the unit until you have placed your lock on the door. Storage facilities often have different types of locking systems. When you call to verify the unit is still available, ask the facility manager what kind of lock you need to bring.
Check out this previous post titled “4 Things to Bring to a Storage Auction” for more information about what you need for a successful auction.
Clean the Unit to a Swept Condition
Swept condition is precisely what it sounds like, swept clean. Swept clean means you have to remove all items from the unit and sweep up any remaining debris. There is a thing in storage auctions called “cherry-picking.” This is when the buyer takes what they want from the unit and leaves the rest behind.
I have heard some buyers say, “it was worth it to lose the cleaning deposit not to clean it out.” Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Failing to empty the unit can result in you being banned from bidding on auctions on StorageTreasures.com. Our rules (and most all storage auction rules) state you must remove the unit’s entire contents from the premises.
You also cannot use the facility dumpster. This rule isn’t because the facility manager doesn’t like you. It is because storage facilities have small dumpsters that can’t handle the entire contents of storage units. Seasoned auction buyers get passes to the local dump to dispose of the unwanted items from online storage auctions. It is wise to keep the clean-out process in mind when buying multiple units.
Recover Your Cleaning Deposit
Once the unit is empty, you will need to have it inspected by the facility manager to get your cleaning deposit back. Keep in mind; the manager will only be available to return your cleaning deposit during office hours. If you are traveling from a far distance to claim the unit, you should plan ahead to secure your cleaning deposit return.
Some storage companies require you to put your cleaning deposit on a credit card. If that is the case, you likely won’t get your deposit back for 3-5 business days due to the nature of credit card processing. Be sure to read the Additional Information section of the auction listing for any rules concerning the cleaning deposit.
If you want to find out more about storage auctions and prepare for your first auction, here is an excellent article from Side Hustle Nation that gives you a more in-depth perspective from an experienced auction buyer.
Now that you know what to do after you win a unit, head over to www.StorageTreasures.com to find your next big win! If you have any questions about how an auction works, reach out to us on Facebook or contact our Customer Support Team. You can reach them at (480) 397-6503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
StorageTreasures has recently noticed an influx of new bidders to our website. We field a ton of questions about how auctions work, so we thought this would be a great time to publish information to help new bidders learn about storage auctions. If you are new to storage auctions or thinking about buying a storage unit to resell, this article is for you!
The process seems easy and fun on TV and YouTube, but just like any other business, auctions require knowledge, preparation, and hard work. You can’t just decide to buy a unit, pick it up, and expect to make hundreds of dollars. It is essential to educate and prepare yourself if you want to get great units and make a profit. More importantly, this preparation will help keep you from losing money on units.
There are a ton of articles and videos on the internet about storage auctions. The content can be overwhelming, and it isn’t easy to know what to trust. There are also a lot of different features to the StorageTreasures website you might not know before you use the website. We want to help you be successful at the business of storage auctions and hopefully save you some unnecessary frustration. Our team put our heads together and came up with the things we think are most important for you to learn about buying storage units online.
Non-Lien Unit/Manager Special
There are different types of storage units StorageTreasures offers for sale. Not all units you see on the website are delinquent tenant units. We also have an option for a “Non-Lien Unit” or a “Manager Special.” Storage facilities often have a unit they keep open to gather items left around the property. Once the unit gets full, they will sell the contents as a Non-Lien Unit. These units might have a couch or a TV that was rejected by a previous tenant. These units can also be called a “Build-Up Unit,” or a “Company Unit.” These units can still have valuable items, but it is important to note they are not a traditional lien unit. If a storage locker is a Non-Lien unit, you will see the flag pictured below on the listing.
Private Sellers are individuals who are not affiliated with a storage facility. They place items of their choosing into a storage unit they are renting and sell the unit as one lot. Private Seller units will be indicated by the same flag above for Non-Lien/Manager Special Units. You can always tell if a unit is being sold by a Private Seller because instead of seeing the name of a storage facility, the name of the seller will follow this format, “Private Seller – John G.”
If you purchase a unit from a Private Seller, you will not go to the storage facility office to pay. You will need to meet with the Private Seller personally. The storage facility will not be involved in the sale in any way.
Charity Storage Units
You might also run across a unit for Charity Storage. Charity Storage is an organization that works with StorageTreausres to sell units for charity. Self storage operators will choose a unit and collect donations to sell in one lot, and then the proceeds are sent to the charity of their choice. If you bid on a Charity Storage unit, the entire bid amount will be collected on the credit card you have on file with StorageTreasures. You will not be charged sales tax because the proceeds are for a non-profit organization, but you will need to be able to pay the full bid amount upfront. Below you will see the flag and explanation indicating a unit is a Charity unit.
Our invoices often confuse new bidders. They are a little complicated. If you win a unit, StorageTreasures will collect a few things on your credit card.
- Buyer Premium – what you pay to use the StorageTreasures website
- Purchase Deposit – a deposit of 0-10% that will be subtracted from what you pay the facility
It might seem like you are paying double fees, but remember the Purchase Deposit will be deducted from the amount you owe at the facility. You are not paying it twice. You are only paying it early. Here is a link to an article in our Help Center to help you better understand an invoice.
Staged Units or Picked Through Units
Staged units or picked through units are one of the most common complaints we get from new bidders. Naturally, the first thought is the facility manager or someone working at the facility must have entered the unit and removed the valuable items. There are probably dishonest people in self storage, just as there are in every business. However, we ask you to consider a few things before jumping to that conclusion.
- Any “Lien Unit” for sale belongs to a tenant who did not pay their bill. The tenant has until the auction to pay their bill and reclaim their property. In an online auction, they have until the winning bidder takes possession of the unit to come and pay. Tenants are notorious for paying at the last minute. The manager knows if the tenant comes to pay, the unit has to be precisely as the tenant left it, with all items, or the facility could face a lawsuit. Managers cannot possibly know which tenants will pay at the last minute, so managers would put themselves in a difficult position if they did remove items.
- Winning bidders will get a Tamper Tag number on their winning invoice. It would be best if you always make sure the Tamper Tag matches when you go to pick up the unit. Confirming the tamper tag matches and is not broken means the unit has not been opened since the photos were taken.
- Tenants often know they are going to stop paying their bills, and they take the valuable items out before they lose access to the property. They get their essential items back, and they leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
- Storage facilities have no choice but to sell the unit as it is. We often hear people say, “it was all garbage; why didn’t they just throw it away?” Most likely because they can’t do that. A storage facility has to go through the sale process completely to get their unit back. The only time they can dispose of the items is if they are 100% certain there is NO COMMERCIAL value. Often, they cannot take that risk because they do not see everything in the unit. Operators are not legally required to open trunks, boxes, or totes to identify the items. They are not just trying to “unload their garbage” on you. They are following the law to the best of their ability.
Identifying the quality of units is something you need to work hard on and practice. You need to hone your craft to be able to locate bad units readily.
Pictures Don’t Match
Hopefully, this will happen to very few of you, but sometimes mistakes do happen. Managers can upload the wrong photos by mistake. The pictures you see online should always match the unit you see when you arrive at the facility. If they do not match, DO NOT GO INSIDE THE UNIT, DO NOT REMOVE ANYTHING FROM THE UNIT!! Tell the manager immediately you would like a refund because the pictures do not match. If you have difficulty in a situation involving pictures, reach out to StorageTreasures Customer Support for assistance. The most important thing to remember is not to remove anything from the unit. Once you take possession of the unit, it is much more challenging to get a refund.
Dirt, Rodents, and Spoiled Food
Unfortunately, this is going to happen. It might even happen more than you would think it would. Some storage units sit for years before non-payment and then auction. Every storage facility we have ever worked with tells tenants they are not allowed to store food or perishable items, but unfortunately, it still happens. Food storage can lead to rodents and rodent droppings. As mentioned earlier, storage operators legally have to sell the unit as they find it, or at least attempt to sell them.
Shill bidding, otherwise known as bidding on one’s own unit to drive the price higher, is prohibited by the StorageTreasures website. It is also a practice that is potentially illegal or could create a great deal of liability for the storage operator. A lot of new bidders feel some managers have an account where they bid to manipulate the price higher.
Shill bidding could be possible, but facility managers have to report to District Managers or Area Managers about the results of the auction. If a manager bids a unit up and wins, they will either need to buy the unit themselves or cancel the unit. If they cancel it, they will have to explain to their supervisor why the unit did not sell. Canceled and unsold units are watched very closely by storage operators, so bidding on their own units could potentially cost the managers a lot of money. Or even their job.
There are a handful of states in which shill bidding is entirely illegal. StorageTreasures cannot possibly police every single unit listed on our site. We need your help there. If you have a reason to believe shill bidding is occurring, please let our Customer Support team know right away, and we will investigate the issue.
We get a lot of comments from bidders who would like to have more, clearer pictures. StorageTreasures wants this too. We want it so much. Pictures are uploaded at the facility based on the guidelines the managers have been given. Don’t forget, online auctions are still relatively new, and we have first time sellers on the website every month. StorageTreasures has spent the last few years gathering data so we can make educated best practice recommendations. A lot of operators do not realize how much photos impact unit price. We are spreading the word wide and far!
Fees and Cost of Using StorageTreasures
Many new bidders report they think our fees are too high. A bidder premium of 10-15% is consistent with industry standards. In-person auctions often charge a bidder premium of up to 30%. Many people are confused about how much they are paying because of the Purchase Deposit. They see the Purchase Deposit listed on the invoice, so they think they are paying 25% of the total price. Don’t forget that the Purchase Deposit amount is deducted from what is paid at the facility. Thus, the bidder really isn’t paying 25%.
StorageTreasures is a vast, active website. We could not possibly run and support the website if we didn’t have a team of people behind the scenes to help you with whatever comes up. While it might appear we don’t have a lot of overhead, we do.
There are many different pricing models in the industry. Some websites allow bidders to pay a subscription fee, and others charge by the auctions. It is important to note you can sign up for our Pro Membership to save 5% on your buyer premium. Click here to learn more information.
Hopefully, we have been able to condense some of the most common questions about StorageTreasures and online auctions in a way you can learn from them. If you have any other questions, we have a Help Center with hundreds of articles for you to look through. Click here to access our Help Center. To find out more the bad reviews storage auctions get, click on this article. To practice your craft and find great units, go to StorageTreasures.
You finally won a storage auction. What do you do with the items now? Re-sell that inventory, of course. There are many different options available for reselling, eBay is one of the most popular places for storage auction buyers to resell their inventory. However, successfully selling on eBay is a little more involved than posting a picture and waiting for the bid to go up. eBay makes several recommendations for successful listings. You can read more about them at this LINK.
Even with all the tips from eBay about selling, it seems like some people are still better at selling on eBay than others. Have you tried all the eBay tips and still not had great results? Have you wracked your brain trying to figure out what other people know that you don’t know? You are in luck; some successful eBay sellers are willing to share their secrets to make you a better reseller.
In addition to the best practices listed above, eBay also offers the eBay Seller Center, the eBay Community, and eBay Upfront to help you resell items purchased at storage auctions. The eBay Seller Center resources like the eBay for Business Podcast and shipping tips. The eBay Community includes discussion groups and a weekly chat with eBay staff. The eBay Upfront is a traveling conference in which eBay sellers and groups come to you!
eBay Radio is an internet radio program produced by Voicemarketing, Inc. They host live shows with eBay’s top sellers, eBay news, and general e-commerce. One of the hosts of eBay Radio is a long time eBay employee and the Dean of eBay Education. Their website also features an extensive archive of past shows you can watch anytime.
Udemy is a website where professionals can host all sorts of classes to share with those looking to learn. A search of “eBay” returned 997 results for classes, of which 113 were free. The paid classes range from The Complete eBay Course – eBay from Beginner to Advanced to eBay Hacks: Optimize eBay Seller Listings. The average price of a lesson on Udemy ranges between $10 and $15.
Skillshare is an online community with a focus on creativity. There is no charge for the classes listed on Skillshare, but there is a membership fee of $8.25 per month. They do offer a two-month free trial. Skillshare offers a course titled eBay Mini Newbies Boot Camp. The class has 14 lessons, and you can watch the first lesson for free to see if the content is right for you. The website boasts an attendance of 756 students so far to the Boot Camp.
Ed2Go is a virtual continuing education platform. They offer classes and certifications to help people educate themselves and advance in their careers. They offer a 6-week course called Learn to Buy and Sell on eBay for $149. That price might seem a little steep, but the class has twelve sections, including one on The World of Digital Photography. It is also taught online by a real professional, rather than a series of videos you watch independently. The class is recurring, with different start dates available.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of eBay Groups on Facebook full of people willing to share their knowledge. Some examples are: eBay Selling Basics Nothing but eBay Basics, EBAY SELLERS, Stay at Home Moms Selling on eBay, eBay Warriors, and eBay Sellers Helping Each Other. You can also join Facebook groups dedicated to storage auctions to learn more.
YouTube has long been the go-to source for how-to videos for those who prefer to learn by watching. That includes all things Storage Auctions, such as selling your winnings. Searching “Selling on eBay” returned several titles. There are also videos for how to sell specific items on eBay, such as books. Some of the videos include tutorials for using the website, and others explore how to spot things you can resell on eBay.
To win another storage auction to help hone your eBay skills, check out all of our units on StorageTreasures. If you want to learn more about being a bidder on StorageTreasures, check out our Help Center articles here.
Header Image Source: Daniel Krasoń – stock.adobe.com
At StorageTreasures we are always looking for ways to do better and one way we do that is by looking at messages we get from our bidders. They can sting a little, but it helps us learn our areas for improvement so we can give you a better experience with online storage auctions. Here is a recent Facebook Messenger conversation that may help answer concerns you might have about using StorageTreasures. Thank you, Sara Beth, for allowing us to share your message!
Sarah Beth:Good day!! 🙂 I am new to this (I haven’t even placed my first bid yet as I am still in the “investigation” part of this journey), so please hear me out. I was totally stoked about getting into something like this as a side hobby, but reading the reviews kind of has me a little skittish. Instead of posting something publicly and allowing a whole bunch of negativity to bombard me, I wanted to come to you directly and ask about the process. Why so many negative reviews? The good ones are superb, but the negative ones are definitely an eyesore for anyone who is thinking about doing something like this. Could you please take the time to enlighten me on this? I know there are a million sides to every story. Getting duped is not something I would ever willingly sign up for. Please take your time to respond. 🙂 I’d rather have this explained to me instead of ignored or just a quick response. Thanks so much!!
StorageTreasures Response:Sarah Beth:Storage auctions are not for everyone. A lot of people get into the business, hoping to have a great big windfall right out of the gate. While that might happen on TV, that is not really how it works in real life. You can find some great units out there. There are also some units you might pay little for but make a lot of profit. However, the vast majority of the units do not contain hidden treasures. To be successful at buying and reselling storage units, you have to do your homework and prepare. You need to know what you are looking at and how much you can make in return. It is not a guessing game, where you buy the first cheap unit you find and make a ton of money. A lot of people think the managers go through the units before they put them up for sale. While I am sure there are dishonest people in self storage, like every other business, by-and-large, the managers don’t care what is in the units. They don’t have time to go through the units. From what we have seen, many self storage tenants are aware they are going to stop paying their bill and take all the stuff they want and leave the rest behind. Most of our career buyers are looking for quantity rather than quality, but always hoping for that big win. They need inventory to sell in their shops or at the flea market. A lot of people also don’t realize you have to clean out the entire unit. This means you might have to make trips to the dump, which will cost you more money. You might also have to rent a truck to get the unit cleaned out by the deadline. A truck might also cost you money. You might have to take time away from your regular job or your family to get the storage unit cleaned out. There are personal and monetary expenses to buyers after storage auctions. People think storage auctions are a quick and easy way to make money. It is NOT quick or easy. It is a lot of work, and it might take you a while to start seeing profits. The good units will sell for a lot of money, leaving you feeling like you can’t get a good unit. You can get a good unit, but it takes time, dedication, and hard work to be successful in this business. A lot of people do not realize this and end up disappointed rather quickly. It takes a little while to build up your “finesse” at buying storage units. I hope this helps.
Sarah Beth:Oh, it does for sure. I work full-time and also run a drug recovery ministry, so it’s not all about profit for me. It would be something fun and then also a way to sell a few things here and there, but also be able to bless people (which would be the best thing for me). I was just so concerned when I saw the rude/negative comments. My idea (please let me know if it’s a bad one) was to get just a small unit as my first one (I know about the $100 refundable cleaning deposit as long as it’s cleaned out and all that good stuff) to test it out and I planned to do maybe one unit a month? I am not out to get rich or anything. Just something fun and, in the end, possibly provide something worthwhile to someone in need. 🙂 I just wanted to make sure that before I even attempted that it was worth even trying out. Thank you so much for answering my inquiry so thoroughly.
StorageTreasures Response:You could get some units pretty cheap with clothes, household items, shoes, toys, and other things people need. You have to try and see how it works for you! As long as you do what you are supposed to do (pay, clean out the unit on time, etc.), you will be fine! Sarah Beth: Awesome!! Thank you so much!! StorageTreasures does not want anyone to have a bad experience using our website. However, we know that is probably not possible in this type of business. There are going to be sales that do not have spectacular results. There is a lot of money at stake for a lot of buyers. We do welcome your questions and comments by posting directly to Facebook or Twitter, messaging us, or contacting our Customer Support Team. We want you to talk to us, and we want to be the best we can at responding and trying to help you have the best buying experience possible! To reach StorageTreasures Customer Support, call (480) 397-6503 or email email@example.com
At StorageTreasures, we get a lot of questions about how to find storage auctions. We get a request through our “Help Center” on our website, from our social media accounts, and also right here on our blog. We wanted to give you a comprehensive list of great places to find storage auctions and to find StorageTreasures auctions.
This website drives a ton of traffic to our website every day, so we know people look here for their auctions. The website is very user-friendly, as well. You go to their website and type in your Zip Code (or Postal Code), hence the name AuctionZIP. You can put in a mile radius of how far you are willing to travel, select from a long list of categories of auctions, or use keywords for the type of items you like to buy. The easiest way to find StorageTreasures auctions is to select the Storage Auctions category. The best news is; it is free to search for auctions on AuctionZip.com.
Global Auction Guide has been listing auctions for about five years now. It is also free to search their website for auctions. You can find online storage auctions or live storage auctions. You can search by location, date, or use a keyword, but the best part of Global Auction Guide is you can search by Company name, making StorageTreasures auctions easy to find.
Locate Auctions is the new kid on the block, but they have a lot of great auction listings. You can search by keyword, categories, auction type, or state. You can also browse their list of registered auctioneers or auction companies. Locate Auctions also has a great blog with all sorts of tips and information for bidders.
4. Your Local Newspaper
In most states, storage laws still require operators to advertise all lien sales in a Newspaper of General Circulation. You can try to find the legal ads on their digital version, or you can subscribe to the major newspapers in your county.
This suggestion might seem obvious or silly, but we have a lot of users who come to our site, and they don’t know how to find storage auctions near them. If you don’t already have an account, you can create one using the button in the upper right-hand corner.
Once you have registered for your account, you can search for auctions from our homepage.
What Are Online Storage Auctions?
An online storage auction is an auction involving defaulting automatic storage units. Typically, tenants fall behind in their payments or leave items behind causing a default. Each state requires a certain amount of delay before the unit can be auctioned, typically within 30 to 90 days.
Defaulting storage units are then auctioned for the highest bidder to recover the rental fees the storage company has lost. All items are sold in bulk like the entire unit, not sold separately. With the mass price of the units, their chances of making a profit are high, leading thousands of people to participate.
How Do Online Storage Auctions Work?
Regardless of which site you choose for your first bid, online storage auctions are similar across the board. When you start your search for the first time, you’ll notice a few things about each drive listing right away:
A selection of photos: Each listing will include a photo of the storage drive or maybe even some, depending on the contents of the drive.
Remember that the storage drives that are full will include content that you cannot see. This is why it is important to read the listing carefully before bidding.
A time limit: Each auction will only last a certain period of time. This time limit varies according to the website and the wishes of the storage company.
Description: Each unit will have a description of what appears to be included in the listing. The auction company or storage company will do its best to communicate an accurate representation of what is available.
Location: The location of the storage unit will always be listed with the company name. Some sites also include the storage company’s time schedule so that you can guarantee withdrawal.
Capture time limit: You only have a certain amount of time to clean your storage drive. This varies depending on the company of the storage drive and most is only 48 to 72 hours after purchase.
Some other things to keep an eye on are a cleaning deposit, the size of the drive and the value of the current bid. During the auction, bidders will bid and withdraw until the auction ends and a winner receives the unit.
Bidding for the First Time
First thing first, you need to choose a platform or a website. Most sites require you to sign up before bidding. After that, you’re ready to go.
When searching for a drive, be sure to re-check the location and content to ensure it’s exactly what you’re looking for; there’s no way back after you buy a storage drive. Once you find a drive that you’re happy with, you’re ready to make your first bid.
Most auction bids occur in increments each time, which means that you cannot place a bid that is only $1 higher than the previous bid. Most sites require a minimum bid of $10. You can stick around and bid manually or you can choose to place a proxy bid, that is, set a maximum bid and the system bids to keep it at the top until it reaches your maximum bid. Setting a proxy bid allows you to continue with your daily tasks without checking the auction too often.
You will continue to bid until you reach the maximum or until you win the unit. In case of your win, you will need to take the necessary steps to pick up your items and pay for your unit. Most companies will require a cash payment at installation; however, some allow you to pay with a debit or credit card.
Be sure to pay for your unit in a timely manner. You run the risk of losing your unit if you don’t pay on time.
Before you visit the facility, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Call first: Call the facility so they know when to wait for you. Make sure you are there before the time limit.
Bring some tools: You will want to bring garbage bags, gloves and other cleaning tools to help you move your items. Boxes are a great idea too!
Bring a truck or trailer: You will have many items to pack and take with you. Be sure to bring a truck or trailer with plenty of space.
Bring a padlock: If you need to leave and come back later, you’ll need to lock your unit.
Online storage auctions are a great way to find some amazing bids without participating in a physical auction.
Q: Do we need to check for liens or are they legally owned now by the winner of the auction?
A: Always good to know what you are buying at a distressed “as is” sale. However, it usually does not matter with vehicle and boats over 10 years old. You can do U.C.C. lien filings online in the name of the tenant if you are concerned.
Q: Do the Auction rules supersede the rules of the state that the auction is being held?
A: The auction rules will supersede most state rules. State laws governing auction sales are default rules and govern when there are not auction rules (a contract) that governs the issue. For example, if the facility rules state that the sale is final when the amount bid is paid to the owner and the property is removed from the space, that rule applies.
Q: If you don’t clean the room out within the time frame but instead, rent the room from the facility, can the contents still be purchased back by the original owner?
A: NO. Once the unit is paid for and possession is taken by the high bidder (especially if the unit is leased by the high bidder), the sale is completed.
Q: Normally on a sale of a unit, the amount of the normal rent would be recuperated and the additional amount would go either to the tenant or to the state. What if a unit is sold but the buyer doesn’t show up in 48 hours or whatever time allotment is given. Can the operator keep the deposit and other fees and still collect the normal rent amount from the secondary bidder, or is the amount kept by the operator limited to the amount of normal rent and everything else goes to the original tenant or the state?
A: BY Bid rules, you are entitled to keep the first deposit. You are also entitled to collect the second deposit and the purchase price for the goods. If ALL monies collected exceed ALL the expenses of sale plus rent owed, the tenant is entitled to recoup the proceeds. If the tenant doesn’t recoup the proceeds some states require that the funds be paid to the state, other laws allow the operator to keep the proceeds after a period of time.
Q: I bought a unit at a self-storage auction and was sued by the prior owner. I was disappointed that the Storage association did not offer help. I spent thousands in legal fees!
A: The SSA does not get involved in direct actions like you have described. But the law typically provides a direct defense when tenants make claims against the buyers of their property after foreclosure. I hope you won!
Q: What if unit contains a large amount of hazardous materials that a dangerous to handle does seller assume any liability in their description of contents?
A: This is a distressed sale and you purchase the contents at your sole risk. Buyers need to be aware of this. You take the risk that the property you purchase has no value or could cost you money to dispose of legally. If you determine the space contains toxic material you could just walk away from the sale. However, you may become involved in litigation over who is responsible for legally disposing of the property. If you suspect the space has a trace of toxic materials, do not bid on it.
Q: What about things like stock or bond certificates, etc.?
A: If you discover these items in an abandoned space, many time you are able to convert the abandoned certificates into your name. But it depends.
As a platform for storage auctions, we’re familiar with the phenomenon of abandoned items. Storage lot owners retain property left behind by delinquent tenants; in order to clear space and generate revenue, they hold auctions.
State governments also require cash flow to fund public works and institutions. Lottery tickets represent a popular business model; taxes, not so much. A lesser known approach to generating public funds bears resemblance to storage auctions. Three years after people abandon safe deposit boxes at banks and credit unions, the items are turned over to the state.
As an example, Arizona maintains an entire website devoted to unclaimed property. The site serves as a means for property owners and their heirs to find missing items. It also announces auctions where buyers can bid on remitted property.
Read More: What to Do With Important Documents Found in Storage Units
Storage Auctions vs. Safe Deposit Auctions: Which Is Better?
Comparing storage auctions to safe deposit auctions is like comparing apples to oranges. With storage containers, there’s usually an element of mystery, an exciting gamble for a prize. With safe deposit auctions, states list specific items. Obviously, they tend to be valuable by virtue of having been stored in a bank vault. People generally store different types of items in safe deposit boxes than they do in storage lockers. When you win a storage auction, you find yourself the proud owner of a large quantity of items — their quality partially or entirely unknown.
Call us crazy, but that’s part of the fun! Depending on what draws you to storage auctions, you might enjoy exploring this other avenue of bidding on abandoned items. On the other hand, you might prefer to stick with the treasure hunt that accommodates a lower budget and satisfies a thirst to search. Storage Treasures is your hub for live and online storage auctions.
Q: Can storage facility staff go through the boxes to take inventory?
No matter how great a haul you have in winning a storage unit auction, you will undoubtedly have a large amount of junk. Before you simply start lugging off giant trash bags to the dump, stop to consider a few of the items you can recycle. This way, you’ll reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions while preserving important manufacturing materials.
Q: I bought a vehicle at an auction and found there is a lien. Now the DMV will not give me title until the lien is removed.
When dealing with storage unit auctions, always educate yourself on the facility, buyer and seller rights. While generally the same, these rights can vary from one location to the next. Before participating in a physical or online storage auction, review all the essential clauses and information regarding that particular auction. This will help you avoid problems later on.