Abandoned Storage Auctions

Most self storage facilities within the United States hold storage auctions. Storage facility operators auction off items left abandoned when renters fail to fulfill their rental contracts. Auctions are a great way for the owners to recoup losses when renters fail to pay rent on their storage units. Most facilities hold auctions on a monthly basis. The number of units being auctioned off varies from month to month depending on how many units are left abandoned.

Auctions are often advertised through a legal notice in the local newspaper and open to the general public. Another place auctions might be advertised is on community websites, emails and newsletters. Most people who attend auctions do so with the intention of reselling the merchandise for a profit. Self storage auctions can be a great way for business owners who sell secondhand merchandise to purchase items for virtually pennies on the wholesale dollar. Others who might be interested in buying from auctions are those who sell on eBay, at flea markets or even garage sales. However, consumers wishing to furnish their homes cheaply may benefit from buying at self storage auctions as well.

How an Auction Works

Bidders are expected to arrive 10-15 minutes early. They are asked to sign in and everyone is assigned a number which is usually written on a card. A bidder can expect to be asked to show a photo I.D.  Bidders are exempt from paying sales tax in some areas if they are able to show a proper resale license. Upon signing in, a bidder can expect to receive a printed notification of the rules and conditions of the auction. A common auction rule is that the buyer must pay for their winning bid in cash.

The door of the storage unit remains closed until it is time for the bidding to begin on a unit. Once the door is opened, viewers are given the opportunity to take a look at the property. Typically, they are only able to view the property from the doorway and are not able to enter the unit or handle the merchandise. Often the merchandise is packed tightly in boxes and viewers are not able to get a good look at what is actually inside the unit. A good flashlight can come in handy for viewers wanting to get a better look at the unit’s contents. Storage auctions differ from other auctions in this area where at other types of auctions bidders can handle and even test items to see if they are working properly.

Most auctions are live and conducted by an auctioneer. The auctioneer takes bids and may start bidding as low as $1. Bids are taken and bidders indicate a bid by waving their numbered card. Bids increase with the auctioneer asking who will bid higher than the last bidder. When no more bids are offered, the lot goes to the highest bidder. Winning bids vary depending on the amount and type of merchandise being sold and the competition for the property being bid on.

There is no limit to the possibilities of the types of merchandise one can expect to find in a storage unit. Some units may be packed full or contain only a few items. Units may contain large items such as furniture, appliances, electronics and even cars, trucks or boats. Other merchandise that might be found can include household goods, antiques, collectibles and office supplies. Clothing and jewelry are also common items that might be found at a self storage auction.

After an auction ends, the buyer must claim the items within a time frame specified by the self storage facility. The buyer has the responsibility of removing all property and debris from the unit. Once the merchandise is cleared out, the buyer is expected to sweep the unit clean.

Other helpful Information

All auctions are subject to cancellation if the renter of the storage unit returns and pays the amount that is owed to the self storage facility. Often renters who are delinquent in their payments return at the last minute to pay their bill before they lose their items at auction. Those who forfeit their property by failing to pay their debts may still reclaim them by bidding and winning them back at auction.

Potential bidders should call the storage facility the day prior to the auction to find out how many units will be auctioned off. Individuals and businesses looking to resell the merchandise should attend as many different auctions as possible to find the type of merchandise they are looking for and to increase the likelihood of getting the winning bid.

While it may be difficult to determine what is actually in the storage unit one might bid on, there are clues which will help bidders decipher if the property within the units are valuable. Viewers should look at the items they can plainly see and estimate their value. If the items look outdated or damaged, then the contents in boxes are likely to be as well. One should look to see if these items carry top quality name brand labels or if the items are antiques. If so, other boxes may also contain valuables. One should look to see if the household items appear to be a complete set of household furnishings. Viewers should look at how items are packed. If the boxes have been labeled, that will give an indication of what is inside. If the contents have been carefully packed in specialty boxes purchased from a moving company, one can conclude that since the boxes are of good quality, the contents inside are likely to be too. Items packed in supermarket cardboard boxes often tend to be of lesser value. One should pay careful attention to whether or not the boxes have been damaged and how the boxes have been sealed.

Self storage auctions can be a great way to purchase items to resell at a profit. Resellers will be most successful with a clearly defined marketing strategy. Smaller valuables, electronics and clothing often sell well on eBay. Larger items such as furniture, appliances and entertainment centers can often be sold through classified newspaper ads or community auction websites. Garage sales and flea markets may be another opportunity to resell items purchased at self storage auctions.

The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. “Storage Tips” are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see StorageFront’s Terms and Conditions.

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