A Definitive Guide to Storage Auctions

Storage auctions have been around for decades and have grown in popularity in recent years as a way for people to buy items at a fraction of the retail price. Understanding how storage auctions work is critical for making the most of your time and money, whether you’re a seasoned bidder or new to the process.

What are Storage Auctions?

A storage auction is a method of selling the contents of a storage unit to the highest bidder. Typically, the units are sold as a result of a tenant failing to pay their rent or otherwise violating the terms of their rental agreement. The auction is typically held on-site at the storage facility and is open to the general public. The process is similar to that of a traditional auction, with bidders placing their bids to an auctioneer who will declare the highest bidder as the winner of each item in the unit. However, unlike traditional auctions where buyers can inspect the items before bidding, storage auctions are conducted without any idea of what’s inside each storage unit.

How do Storage Auctions Work?

Checking the websites and classified ads of local storage facilities is the best way to find storage auctions. Many facilities will also notify their social media followers of upcoming auctions. On their websites, some storage auction companies also list upcoming auctions.

What Items Are Typically Found in Storage Auctions?

Storage auctions offer a wide variety of items for bidders to potentially purchase. The contents of a storage unit can be a mix of various items, and it’s essential to understand what types of items are typically found in storage auctions.

  • Clothing, furniture, appliances and other household goods are commonly found in storage units. These items are a result of tenants downsizing, moving or simply getting rid of unwanted items. Often, you can find items that are in good condition and can be used in your home or resold for a profit.
  • Collectibles such as art, coins, stamps, and other items that have a particular value to collectors are often found in storage units. These items can be of great value and can be resold for a profit.
  • Books are another type of item that is commonly found in storage units. These can include fiction, non-fiction, and rare books. They can be of interest to book collectors or resellers.
  • Antiques and knick-knacks are also commonly found in storage units. These items can include furniture, pottery, glassware and other decorative items that are of historical or artistic value. These items can be of great interest to collectors, antique dealers and resellers.
  • Personal items such as photographs, documents, and keepsakes are also commonly found in storage units. These items can hold sentimental value and can be of great interest to collectors or family members of the previous tenant.

Overall, storage auctions offer a wide variety of items that can be of great value and interest to various individuals. From household items, personal items or repossessed items to collectibles and antiques, storage auctions provide an opportunity for bidders to find valuable items at a fraction of the cost. If you’re interested in learning more about public auctions of this nature, we highly recommend you take a peek at our guide covering how police auctions work in Alberta.

What Should I Expect at a Storage Auction?

Before you can bid at a storage auction, you must first register and pay a deposit. If you do not win any units, the deposit is usually refunded. During the auction, the facility manager will open each unit’s door and provide a brief description of its contents. Before the auction begins, bidders are permitted to inspect the unit.

The bidding process is similar to that of a traditional auction, with the highest bidder receiving the unit. At the end of the auction, be prepared to pay the full amount of your bid in cash or certified funds.

What are the Risks of Storage Auctions?

The biggest risk of storage auctions is that you won’t know what’s inside the unit you’re bidding on. The contents are usually described as “household items” or “miscellaneous items,” with no specifics. This means you may end up with a unit full of junk or a unit full of valuable items.

However, the benefits of storage auctions can be substantial. You can frequently buy items for a fraction of their retail price, which can be a great way to save money on items you need or resell for a profit.

Types of Storage Auctions

  • Online storage auctions: These auctions are held online and can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. They often feature thousands of items, and typically have the lowest margins for buyers.
  • Live storage auctions: The most common type of auction, live auctions take place in person at a venue like an auction house.
  • Public auctions. These usually take place at public venues like schools and community centres, but they’re also sometimes held on private property as well. Because these events don’t require advanced planning like live and online ones do, you may find that some public bidders have little knowledge about what they’re bidding on, which could lead to higher prices for sellers!

Why Do Storage Auctions Happen?

Storage auctions are frequently used by self-storage facilities to recover unpaid storage fees from delinquent tenants. When a tenant fails to pay their rent on time, the storage facility may auction off the unit’s contents to recoup the unpaid fees. These auctions allow the facility to sell the contents of the unit in order to make room for paying customers. It also enables people to purchase items for a fraction of the cost they would pay in a store. Storage auctions assist storage facilities in recovering unpaid fees while also providing a one-of-a-kind opportunity for people to acquire valuable goods. The unit’s contents could include anything from household items and furniture to collectibles and tools. It’s a convenient way for people to get rid of unwanted items while also allowing buyers to find new treasures. Storage auctions are an efficient way for self-storage facilities to recoup unpaid fees while also allowing individuals to find great deals on valuable items.

How to Ensure Success at a Storage Auction

Be strategic in your bidding. Bidding strategically is one key to success at storage auctions. This includes understanding the value of the items in the unit, the competition, and the likelihood of finding valuable items. It is critical to weigh the potential profit against the unit cost and bid accordingly. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the other bidders and their behaviour, as this can give you an idea of how much they’re willing to spend.

Investigate the storage facility. Before the auction, do some research on the facility and the unit you want to bid on. Look for any hints about the previous tenant or any items that may be in the unit. This information can help you when creating a budget, determining the value of the unit, and making strategic bids.

Keep an open mind. While having an idea of what you’re looking for is important, it’s also important to keep an open mind. You never know what you’ll find in a unit, so expect the unexpected. Unexpected finds can sometimes be the most valuable.

Final Thoughts

Storage auctions are an excellent way to find items at a fraction of their original value, but you must be prepared for the risks and rewards. In this guide, I’ve explained how storage auctions work and some ways to make the most of your time and money when buying at them. If you found this article useful, we recommend checking out our guide covering how bankruptcy auctions work!

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Graham Auctions

The team at Graham Auctions is led by folks with over 25 years of experience in the auction industry. We aim to share our expertise to help those who are new to online auctions as well as ignite thought-provoking discussions with experienced bidders.

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