Self Storage Auction Tips

With some careful planning, you can really profit when you buy from auctions at self storage units.

Before you go, you should know what you plan to do with the items once you buy them. You don't want things sitting around your house, causing clutter and collecting dust. You also don't want to have to pay for a place to store the items; it is good to keep what you might want for yourself and sell what you don't want as soon as possible.

At almost all self storage unit auctions, you are bidding on everything in the storage unit. You usually won't know exactly what is inside it until you open all of the boxes following the auction.

Sort the items in the storage unit right away so you know exactly what you have. Make three piles -- get-rid-of, keep for yourself, and sell. You can either throw away or donate the items in the get-rid-of pile, depending on their condition.

When you get home, you'll want to sort the items you intend to sell. You can divide them by category (such as furniture, clothes, housewares, collectibles, etc.) or how you intend to sell the items (eBay, garage sales, etc.). You may also have your own method of sorting them.

You might want to do some research on how to price your items, either online or at local venues similar to where you would like to sell your items. That way you won't price things too high or too low. Consult your yellow pages or look online for a list of flea markets, consignment stores, and auction houses in your area if you don't already know where to find them.

There are several options for reselling the items:

  1. Online auctions.

    Selling things on auction websites such as eBay and Amazon is pretty simple. The advantage to this is there no commission taken by anyone, so you get all of the asking price. There is no bargaining like at a garage sale, and no commission taken like at auction houses or consignment sales. All you do is take a picture of the item and write a brief description. When the auction ends, package the item and take it to the post office or parcel shipping company such as UPS or Federal Express.

  2. Flea markets.

    You can have a booth or table at a local flea market and sell your items on a regular basis. You can also set up at an annual flea market and sell your things on a one-time basis. You usually will get all of the asking price, although many people will try to bargain with you. You most likely will have a small fee for renting the space.

  3. Auction houses.

    Most cities have auction houses that sell things on a weekly basis. You bring in your items and they auction them off for you at a 10-25 percent commission. It is a good way to get rid of large items, which you cannot do in online auctions, and you don't need to worry about shipping them. You can also make more money on them than you would if you sold them at a garage sale or flea market.

  4. Consignment stores.

    This is a great way to make money on larger items, such as furniture, and larger-ticket items, such as jewelry. Like auction houses, the stores take a commission, which may be as much as 50% of the asking price. Things are usually kept for a certain number of days and then they return what does not sell to you.

  5. Garage sales.

    This is just like a flea market, but it is held on your own property. You can have one garage sale or several until everything sells. The advantage to this is that you make 100% or what you sell, whereas in auction houses or consignment stores, they make commission on what you sell. This is also better than a flea market, as you don't have to pay space to rent a booth or table. However, you do need to do your own advertising, and you won't be able to charge as much as you would have at an auction or store.

  6. Classified ads.

    You may want to place an individual classified ad in the paper to sell items such as furniture, jewelry, and electronics. Ads usually aren't too expensive, and you won't have to pay commission when you sell them. Plus, you can price them higher than what you would charge at a garage sale. Craig's List ( offers free online classified advertising.

With a little preparation and research, you can make a large profit from spending a small amount of time and money at a self-storage unit auction.

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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