Storage Auctions: What You Need to Know

What you need to know about online auctions

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.

StorageTreasures Auctions Non-Lien Unit Flag

Private Sellers

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.

StorageTreasures Auctions Charity Storage FlagStorageTreasures Charity Storage Auctions More Information

 

 

 

 

 

 

StorageTreasures Invoice

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.

Also, you will note in StorageTreasures Terms of Use, each unit is sold “as is, where is, no warranties, or guarantees.” Auctions, in general, are not known for allowing refunds, so it is tough to go back on a sale after you have entered the unit, even if it is disgusting.

Shill Bidding

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.

Pictures

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.

 

 

Storage Auction Winnings: Become an eBay Pro

Sell storage auction items on eBay

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.

eBay

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 by Voicemarketing, Inc.

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

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

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

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.

Facebook Groups

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 Videos

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

 

StorageTreasures Communication to Bidders About COVID-19 Virus

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Valued Bidder Community,

As you’re undoubtedly aware, the growing Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has brought unprecedented changes to our personal and professional lives on a national level. Rapid changes in government mandates and recommended safety precautions have forced many businesses to pivot standard practices to maintain daily operations and protect the well-being of their staff and customers.

 

StorageTreasures is currently experiencing low auction volume as a result of these changes. Most self storage operators have temporarily suspended auction activities – either in compliance with a government mandate, or to provide relief for tenants as many individuals face lost wages and unemployment.

 

We know that for many of you, auctions on StorageTreasures supply your primary or secondary source of income – and understand that you may equally feel the impact of these decisions. While we cannot offer clarity regarding when these auctions will resume, we will continue to provide full customer support for all auctions still available for purchase.

 

StorageTreasures will use this time to continue to upgrade and enhance our platform to ensure the best possible bidder experience when auction numbers normalize. We encourage you to engage with us on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog, to stay up-to-date on this developing situation and gain access to exclusive content,
contests and community-building activities.

 

We are grateful for your unfailing loyalty and look forward to the day when business is booming once again. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And be sure to check back often for new updates, activities, and auctions.

Warmest regards,

The StorageTreasures Team

P.S. Have questions? Please email info@storagetreasures.com, or call (480) 397-6503, to speak with a member of our dedicated support department. They are available to assist you Monday – Friday; 6AM – 7PM MST.

 

Why Do Online Storage Auctions Get Bad Reviews?

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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 littlebut 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.  

Read More: I Had the Winning Bid and Bought My First Storage Locker

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 youAs 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 support@storagetreasures.com 

Personal Documents in Storage Auctions

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Why They’re There, What to Do with Them, and When to Walk Away 

During live storage auctions, it is not uncommon to open a unit and see filing cabinets or file boxes full of folders and papers. Immediately, auction buyers begin to ask, “can we leave the files?” Technically, if not legally, the answer to that question should be yes, the files can be left behind.  Most self storage lien laws do not specifically address the topic of items containing personal information. However, almost every state has other regulations on the sale of items revealing someone’s identity. This includes tax documents, medical records, legal records, pay stubs, identification paperwork, etc.

What Does the Law Say? 

Is it illegal for the storage operator to sell the items? Yes, and no. It is likely illegal for them to sell such items KNOWINGLY, but most self storage laws do not require operators to inspect the entire contents of the unit for auction. Operators are required to provide a general description of the property in the legal advertisement, so they do need to have a general idea of what is in the unit. Many of the laws go on to say operators or managers are not required to open boxes, trunks, cases, valises, or other items that might contain additional property. This part of the law is good news for auction buyers because this is what stops managers from needing to touch everything in the unit. It also leaves a lot of property unknown. Likewise, as an auction buyer, you don’t stand at the storage unit and go through each box as you are cleaning out the unit. You probably don’t even look through all the stacks of paper you see when you finally do organize your winnings. You likely toss the entire stack in the closest garbage bin.

Personal Items and Online Storage Auctions 

Online storage auctions could make it easier or harder to identify personal items stored in the unit. You have more time to look at the photos and investigate the contents of the unit. However, often, photos are blurry or dark and you cannot make out any of the items in the unit. Additionally, you don’t have a facility manager standing beside you to permit you to leave the files or records behind. You have no way of knowing how the facility manager will react to personal items once you have won the unit.

What should you do if you discover documents revealing a person’s identity?

  1. Attempt to return the documents to the storage facility. That could potentially be a big hassle for you. The facility might be far away or closed. It is also possible the facility might refuse to take the items back. It is not unheard of that happening.
  2. If the facility won’t take possession of the documents, or it isn’t logistically feasible for you to return them,  my best advice to you is to destroy the documents so there is no possibility of someone recovering them and committing identity theft. If you have a staff who helps you clean and organize units you bought at auction, make sure they understand the sensitivity of these items and dispose of them properly.

Are there times when you should not bid on storage auctions because of files or personal documents? Absolutely! If you see a unit full of banker type boxes, like these, Personal files in a storage auction unit and they say something such as “legal records” or “medical records,” you should not buy this unit. The facility should not be selling these items, and in turn, you should not be reselling these items either, assuming someone would buy them. Essentially, there is nothing you can do with these items; thus, there seems to be little reason to invest in them.

Check out all of our great unit listings on StorageTreasures.