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16 Things Not to Do at a Storage Auction

Jon Fesmire | April 18, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

The idea of a self storage auction probably seems pretty self explanatory. In addition, you may be familiar with them through shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters. We all know that television can get things wrong, often emphasizing drama over truth.

So, if you’re interested in participating in storage auctions and possibly getting some great finds, make sure you know what to expect and how to behave. This guide will help. And remember, breaking any of these rules can get you removed from the premises and disqualified from bidding.

Do Not Miss the Day and Time

When you’re ready to start bidding at storage auctions, first, you’ll need to find them. The best places to do that are in your local newspapers, or on websites like Storage Unit Auction List.

Put the date, time, and location in your calendar, but don’t leave it at that. Sometimes, storage facilities have to change the date or time of an auction, so check the listing again a few days before the auction, the day before, and the morning of the event.

Do Not Show Up Late

When you go to an auction, you’ll need to sign in, and the facility will go over their rules. Make sure you have plenty of time to park and walk to the location, as you may need to park down the street. The facility should start signing people in around 15 minutes before the scheduled time. They will then cover the rules. Listen closely, as they may include things not covered in this article.

Also, the final time you check the listing, see if it specifies when to be there, in case the facility expects people to arrive even earlier.

No Entering, No Touching

Before bidding starts on a unit, they facility will open it, or the units for sale may all be open when you arrive. You can look. You can even shine in a flashlight or look in at a distance with binoculars. However, do not enter any open unit, and do not touch anything from inside or outside.

Do Not Bring Children

This is actually a bit tricky. First, if you want to bring a well-behaved child along, simply ask the facility if children are allowed. If not, you’ll have to go alone. In any case, do not bring children unless they are able to remain calm and quiet during bidding, and to follow all the rules.

Do Not Bring Pets

Don’t simply bring your dog because you feel like it. The exception to this is if your pet is a service animal you need for medical reasons.

Do Not Bully

Bullying can take several forms, from actually pushing or hitting people (both of which are illegal), to verbal harassment, to sexual harassment, to bidding on a unit just to raise the price for someone who seriously wants to purchase it. Don’t bully. You’ll most likely get kicked out and not allowed to return. The best case scenario for a bully is earning a bad reputation among the auction community.

Do Not Arrive Drunk

While alcohol, and increasingly marijuana, is legal, public intoxication generally is not, and you should never go to a self storage auction drunk, stoned, or otherwise high. You need to have your wits about you.

Do Not Come Stinky

We all know how unpleasant it is to be around someone who has been working hard and hasn’t showered. Before you go to a storage auction, shower with soap and shampoo, and put on clean clothes. Yes, jeans and tee-shirts are fine. Just be clean and smell nice to make the experience more pleasant for everyone.

No Recording

During the auctions, there will be no photography, no video recording, and no audio recording. Save that for taking pictures inside your unit after the auction.

Do Not Bid On a Hunch

It is unwise to bid on what you think could be in a unit. Sure, it might have belonged to a celebrity, and you may suspect they have expensive jewelry hiding toward the back. However, if what you see are a rack of dresses and several plastic bins, bid on what you think the dresses would be worth. Otherwise, you’re asking for disappointment. Then, if you do win the unit and find something worth a fortune deeper inside, you’ve done very well.

Do Not Forget Cash

Whoever wins an auction is required to pay right away, in cash only. So, know how much you’re willing to spend in general, and bring that much cash. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay any fees, and your local and state taxes as well.

The unit will go to the highest bidder, and a bid constitutes a binding contract. If you win, you are legally obligated to pay.

You may also have to pay a deposit on top of the bid, which will be returned to you once you have removed everything from the unit, and cleaned it out.

Do Not Rush In

Once you’ve paid for your unit and are allowed to enter it, don’t let your excitement get the better of you. Enter carefully. You can’t be sure how precariously stacked some of those boxes may be, or what you might step on. Take your time, whether working alone or with a partner.

Do Not Take Too Long

I general, you’ll be given 24 to 48 hours to clear out the unit after the auctions have ended for the day. If you do not do so, you will be required to rent the unit in your own name until you clear it out. So, don’t take too long.

Do Not Keep Certain Personal Items

There are some personal items that, in many areas, you’ll be required to return. In any case, doing so is the right thing to do. This includes the former tenant’s photographs, tax paperwork and legal documents, any ID, and so on. Return it to the office, and they will do their best to get it to the tenant. When self storage facilities are unable to get in touch with former tenants, they often hold onto such important personal property for years, until the tenant returns to ask for it. That’s how seriously the self storage industry takes this subject.

Do Not Keep Firearms

If you find any firearms in a unit you won, you must turn them over to your local police department or sheriff.

Do Not Hoard

Aside from the personal items we mentioned and firearms, consider the rest yours. There may be some things you want to keep, and a lot you want to sell. We encourage you not to hold onto things that may be worth something, but tough to sell, and that you don’t need. Instead of hoarding them, help the less fortunate by giving those things to charity. With these in mind, you’ll be ready to attend your first self storage auction and make wise bidding choices. Just remember to have fun!

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