How to Appraise Your Self Storage Auction Finds

online storage auction

Appraisal of antique and various items found in a self-storage auction can be daunting which is why you need to carry out diligent research to get an adequate knowledge of the value. An antique could be worth a lot of money, however, to value the item, you need to know ways to appraise all your finds.

 

A Verbal Appraisal.
You can get a free appraisal at some auction houses. Many times antique and auction houses offer free verbal appraisals on special dates. To know when an auction house or appraisal service offer such events, you can perform an internet search for the name of your city together with tags such as “appraisal day,” or “valuation day”,. Another way you can get a free verbal appraisal is to bring auction finds to a major local antique fair, thrift store or pawn shop. A lot of them usually have an appraiser allowing ticket-holding visitors to get free verbal appraisals. However, they may limit the number of items you are allowed to have appraised for free.

 

A Professional Appraisal
This is another way to get an appraisal for your items, should you be in possession of an item which you believe to be very valuable. You can employ the service of a professional appraiser who will issue a written estimate of your item. A professional appraiser is the best place to get an accurate price for your items. There are appraisers whose field is limited to a specific category such as artworks, vintage collections, etc. Additionally, you should note that a written appraisal generally will charge upwards of $150 or more per hour.

 

Online research for the Value
In the digital age, it is pretty easy to get a general idea of the value of an item by making use of the internet. Here are just a few ways you can research the value of your items online…

  • Check the labeling; this is used to identify the object, from the label you can get helpful information such as the manufacturer, year of manufacture, etc.
  • Search for the item online; using an online marketplace like eBay, Amazon, Bonanza. You can also make use of online pricing resources such as invaluable.com. You can make use of the advanced search features to narrow down your search using terms like “completed sales” to get the actual retail price of the item.
  • Take a picture and post your item to appropriate groups on Facebook, Reddit and/or Quora.

 

Once you settle on a price for the items won in your self-storage auction you can decide on the ways you would like to sell them.

Historical Items Museums Want

museum art found in storage locker

If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy estate sales, antique markets, and storage treasure hunting. There’s no telling what treasures you may find from a bygone age. Mementos from decades-old political campaigns, letters, diaries, newspapers, magazines, and more. All of these tell a story and give us a sense of being in a historic moment.

Is it Museum-Worthy?

Museums, libraries, and historical societies have limited space and budgets. They have guidelines regarding what types of materials they accept. Many objects are beautiful and interesting, but items added to a permanent collection need to be representative and unique. According to curator Elspeth Kursh, “diaries, pamphlets, photographs of people, or mass produced books” generally won’t make the cut. Here are some tips when assessing items for posterity:

  • Check the museum’s wish list to determine exactly what they are looking for.
  • Look up items online to get a sense of their rarity, and to see if they appear on any wish lists.
  • If you have no luck with museums, consider selling to an antique shop or becoming an antique dealer yourself.

What Museums Want to Buy

One example of a collection coveted by museum curators is the Wright Collection, which contains thousands of pieces of political campaign memorabilia. The variety of objects both rare and common interests curators because they’re so expansive. However, even this vast collection remains in storage, partly because researching and cataloging so many items take a lot of time and resources.

If you’re a collector yourself, consider taking a page out of Burt Reynolds’s hoarder book by opening your own museum. Remember, the purpose of a museum is to tell a story to the public through cultural artifacts. If your items aren’t ready for a permanent exhibit, you might organize a pop-up museum in your community.

Need help filling up your museum? Visit Storage Treasures to find online and live storage auctions.

10 Ways To Profit From A Storage Auction

hunting auctions
10 Ways To Profit From A Storage Auction

When you get into the storage bidding business, you can be competing with dozens, sometimes hundreds of other bidders for only a few units. In order to make the most of your opportunity to profit from a winning bid, you need to be knowledgeable about not only the items themselves but how to determine what may be hidden in each unit before you even begin the bidding process.

This includes being prepared with a plan of action, capital, a bidding strategy, and knowing what to look for in every storage unit.
Here are a few steps to follow and things to consider to maximize your profit margin:

Locate Worthwhile Storage Auctions

You are likely to have multiple auctions happening in your area on any given day, so choosing the one that will give you the opportunity to make the most profit out of your time is crucial. Visiting them individually can be time-consuming, so choose them from a storage auction list that is available online. Check out their website first which should list the auction dates. You can then get an idea of their regularly scheduled auction times, and plan accordingly.

Create a Plan

Not only does the actual scheduling of each auction in your daily planner need to happen, but the pre-planning stages of what to do with the items once you have won your bid needs to be taken into consideration. Figure out how you will transport the storage contents from the site and if you will pay someone to help you with this in anticipation of larger items that you can’t move alone. This includes the cost of renting a vehicle or trailer.

Bid Wisely

Take a financial inventory of what is within your means to bid. Know what your capital threshold is and stick to it. Consistently bidding over your financial means will cut your profit margin more and more, leading to no profit at all. Consistently set your bidding boundaries and stick to them.

What Should I Look For?
Most every storage auction begins with the auctioneer giving the bidders an opportunity to view the contents of each unit. This is your opportunity to get a feel for what the items are actually worth and how to properly bid. These are some of the things you should be typically looking for if any items inside could possibly hold any value:

Climate Control

The importance of this cannot be measured whether you live in an area where the climate is exceedingly humid all year or varied between extreme heat and cold. When people store valuables, they often don’t take into consideration the damage that weather conditions may have on paper items like comic books and sports card, or metal objects for oxidation from extreme moisture. Climate control alleviates these issues.

Overall Quality of Visible Items

Don’t try to guess what may be in the boxes in a storage unit; instead, make a determination by observing any items that are not in boxes. If you see one or two things that are definitely antique quality, then the odds are there are more contained in the boxes as well. But, if you see a whole lot of piles of rusty junk, then the boxes will probably contain more of the same.

Professional Moving Boxes

When people take the time to hire a professional moving company, it usually means that they have items that take greater care to move and so must be of greater value. Not many people will pay money to move furniture they have already bought second hand or hand-me-down appliances.

Dust

If you observe them in a storage unit, it could be mean you are looking at quite valuable contents. An even layer of dust on all the contents usually tells a bidder that the storage unit has been left undisturbed for a long time. If there is a smattering of open boxes among untouched ones, then more than likely anything of value has already been removed from the unit.

Know Your “Junk”

What may look like junk to an untrained eye is actually a goldmine to someone who knows what they are looking at and how much it is worth. Many people store what appears to be garbage in their storage units and are actually objects that can be turned into scrap yards for cash. Anything that looks like copper, steel, coils of electrical wire that may contain copper or other precious metals, and boxes of random metal were probably collected for a reason. Become familiar with what the going rate is for scrap metal in your area and how to identify it.

Know When to Pass

Use your best judgment when you are making a decision to bid on a storage unit. Don’t always feel like you are going to be missing out on the find of the century just because you are listening to the buzz from the other bidders about the unit. They may be trying to persuade others to bid on it and waste their money so they can reap the profits from other units in the auction that are yet unseen. So, have confidence in what you observe when the unit is opened, and focus on what your intuition is telling you as opposed to what you are hearing from other bidders.

Reselling the Items
Once you have made all the right decisions about bidding and found your treasures, you need to follow your plan through with selling techniques that maximize your bottom line. You can choose one of the following means of reselling or do several of these on a regular basis:

• Open your own store
• Use a third-party seller (consignment shop)
• Sell online only (eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace among others)
• Yard sale
• Flea Markets

There are several other means to sell individual items that you can explore depending upon the value of an item and what the item actually is since there may be specific buyers that collect certain things.

Selling The Missing Piece

legos

If you’ve ever “completed” a 5,000-piece puzzle only to discover it’s missing pieces, your sense of accomplishment might be dimmed. Because of this, it’s bad form to resell games or puzzles that are missing pieces, unless you clearly state what’s missing. Some venues don’t even allow that. After all, these products are supposed to be fun diversions, not exercises in futility.

So, can you make money off incomplete board games, Lego sets, and puzzles? Here’s the scoop:

Read More: Meet Vivian Maier, A Storage Treasure

Game Pieces

There’s been a lot of buzz about game pieces lately. Hasbro’s Monopoly, for instance, retired the boot, wheelbarrow, and thimble. If you’re superstitious and swear that you can only win if you play the thimble, you can buy a replacement game piece online. It follows that you can sell game pieces individually as a complete set or in a bundle. The same is true of dice, cards, and other parts or accessories.

Legos

Legos get everywhere. Show me a kid who keeps his or her Legos perfectly organized at all times, and I’ll send a team of researchers to study the phenomenon. But Legos aren’t just for kids; in fact, the more complex builds are designed for teens and adults. Understandably, if you’ve spent hours putting together an expensive set only to find you’re missing a piece, you’re going to look for that piece everywhere.

Once you’ve overturned the couch cushions, moved the furniture, and emptied the vacuum cleaner, you might look online. If you do, you’ll find there’s a whole community dedicated to Legos, where you can buy the parts you need.

Puzzles

Selling individual replacement puzzle pieces isn’t a realistic option for a number of reasons. Identifying each piece is time-consuming for starters, and even if you and the potential buyer both identify it correctly, there’s no guarantee it will fit due to the way puzzles are made. However, you can get crafty. A quick search on Pinterest might inspire you to start a puzzle piece side business.

Instruction Booklets

Don’t forget there’s also demand for instruction booklets. This applies not only to games and Lego sets, but also to embroidery kits, model-building kits, and basically anything where someone would be lost without the instructions. Manufacturers will sometimes replace booklets for free, or make them available as downloads, but not all instructions can be tracked down this way.

If you want to resell games, it’s a good idea to check that all the pieces are included. In the case of puzzles and complex building kits, if you don’t want to check by putting them together, it might be enough to list the item with a “buyer beware – used items may not have all the pieces.”

Hunting for puzzles and Legos? Check out our Toys, Baby & Games auctions!

Getting Started Reselling Toys from Storage Units

star wars

If you have kids, chances are you’ve held on to a few things – okay, more than a few things – for posterity. Handmade items earn their place as family heirlooms, and useful items could save money down the line. Toy Story taught us that toys have feelings. Perhaps not, but they evoke feelings, and for some they’re hard to let go.

As they say, out of sight, out of mind. After a storage auction, you might find yourself the proud new owner of a family’s toy collection. You’re probably not as keen to store the keepsakes, so what should you do?

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Reselling Clothes, part 3

storage unit furniture

Recently, we discussed the best practices for selling clothes and where to sell them [PART 1 AND PART 2]. Before you go through the effort to sell secondhand clothing, however, it might help you to know how much you can expect to earn.

Naturally, there’s a wide range of prices clothing and accessories could fetch. We’re talking anywhere between the tens of thousands to the tens of… cents. Some of the factors that go into pricing used clothing are fashion label, style, seasonality and condition.

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Sorting Strategies for Unit Owners

mattress

So you’ve won your first storage unit auction. Congratulations! Now what? After paying and clearing out the unit, you might feel overwhelmed by the task of going through your winnings. By following through with these steps, you’ll make sorting so much easier. Besides, once you’re done with sorting, you can move on to reselling.

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Donating Storage Unit Items to Charity is Easy

old books and desk

After you finish pulling out all the treasures from your storage unit, you’ll want to deal with the items you can’t sell or use yourself. You may feel like you should simply toss everything into the trash to save yourself time and inconvenience. However, donating storage unit items to charity doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, you can do it rather easily. In addition to supporting people in your community and easing pressure on the planet, you can also use this donation as a nice tax write off on next year’s taxes.

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How to Start Selling at Flea Markets

storage unit

In many parts of the country, summer means outdoor market season. Flea markets can be a lucrative way to move items won at a storage auction. Unlike hosting your own garage sale, you don’t have to worry as much about advertising and, at an established market, you can count on there being a crowd. Here’s some advice for those just starting out selling at flea markets.

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