Attending an Auction in Your Underwear: Your Guide to Online Storage Auctions

Krista Diamond | Apr 06, 2017 @ 03:00 PM

If you’ve ever seen Storage Wars and said, “I want to go to one of those auctions but I don’t have the time/gas money/desire to put on pants and leave the house,” you’ll be happy to learn that there’s a tech-savvy approach to bidding. If you’re curious about self storage auctions but not ready to commit to going to one, online storage auctions are perfect for you.

You don’t have to comb local newspapers for self storage auction information or drive to a storage facility only to end up outbid. And you definitely don’t have to be an expert either. Simply turn on your computer, tablet or smartphone and get bidding. Here’s how it works:

Online Listings

First, head to the online storage auction website of your choice (Storage Treasures and Lockerfox are popular options). You’ll see live auctions in your area that will include the name of the storage facility, where it is, contact information along with details like the size of the unit, how much time is left in the auction, the current high bid, a photo of the contents and general information about what’s inside.

You will be required to create an account in order to bid, so if you see a live auction that you’re interested in, fill out the necessary info and get started.

The Advantages of Bidding Online

At an in-person auction, attendees typically have a few moments to see the contents of the storage unit from a distance. One of the advantages to bidding online is that you’ll have at least one photo to study. Photos where the contents are obvious (a unit with a nice piano and a bunch of mountain bikes inside, for example) will probably draw more online competition, whereas a storage unit full of unmarked boxes presents more of a risk but also holds serious potential for rewards.

If you’re impulsive, attending a storage auction online rather than in person might help you avoid blowing your budget due to the competition of bidding in person. Having the internet at your disposal will allow you to research the value of items before bidding. You can also enlist the advice of friends by sharing the link to the auction on social media.

Another benefit to bidding online is the lack of drama. Storage auctions are supposed to be civil, but there’s always a chance that some guy who saw too many episodes of Storage Wars will show up and cause a scene. Doing things online is great for those who hate conflict.

After You Win

While the online part of a storage auction takes place from the comfort of your couch, what happens when you win is pretty similar to a real life self storage auction.

After you successfully bid on a storage unit, expect confirmation that you have won. You’ll need to plan on going to to the facility to clean out the unit within 48-72 hours, or whatever specific time frame the facility requires (yep, even the stuff you don’t want is your responsibility). Bring a broom to give the storage unit a good sweep. Some facilities will require a cleaning deposit. You want to do a good job emptying out the storage unit in order to get this money back. You should also be aware that you won’t be able to use the facility’s dumpsters.

Have ID with you and make sure that you can provide proof that you won the auction. Always have cash to pay for the unit along with fees and taxes.

Bidding Out of State

Participating in an online storage auction that takes place in California when you live in New York sounds cool in theory, but don’t bid out of state unless you’re able to get to the facility immediately after winning. If you’re bidding on a unit that you know you won’t be able to get to within the set period of time, the facility may let you rent that unit on a month-to-month basis until you’re able to empty it.

This option should really only be a last resort, so if you’re new to online storage auctions, stick to bidding within your zip code.

Why You Want to Act Fast

In rare cases, the tenant of the storage unit might pay what they owe after you win online. If this happens, you’ll be notified, but if you want to avoid this, head over to the storage facility as soon as you can.

Other Things to Be Aware Of

Some websites ask you to enter your credit card information. Seems kind of weird since you’re paying cash for the unit, right?  Before you start thinking that you’re being scammed, read the fine print. The website might be charging a small fee, which is how they make money by offering the convenience to begin with.

Take the time to consider different online self storage auction website options and find the one that you like. And then get to bidding! You might score a storage unit full of diamond jewelry for $20, a vintage car for $100 or just have fun looking without having to commit to bidding.