Like many other relatively unknown jobs and hobbies, self storage unit auctions have recently exploded in popularity thanks to a well-timed television show. However, many people show up to their first auction unprepared for the real events to run quite differently than the ones seen on television. Make the most out of every auction you attend by using these five simple tricks.
Rent Your Own Unit
Unless you're just buying a single unit for fun, you'll need a place to keep all the items you purchase before you resell them. The easiest solution is to rent a unit in the same storage center and simply transfer the items over as soon as you've paid. This allows you to take your time in sorting and pricing everything, and it gives you a public place that isn't your home to meet with potential buyers.
Prepare to Pay for Cleaning
You'll likely need to spend a little more than what you bid to take ownership of a storage unit. Many storage companies require auction winners to pay a small fee of $50 to $100 as a cleaning deposit, which they also charge to anyone else who is ending their contract and moving their stuff out. You'll get the money back after you empty the unit and clean it up, but you won't be able to take possession of the items until you've given this deposit to the storage company.
Return Certain Items
Just because you buy a unit's contents doesn't mean that every item inside will automatically become your property. Some storage unit owners request that auction winners return personal items with little monetary value like
- Framed family photos
- Teddy bears and other non-collectible toys
- Personal letters
- Children's artwork
- Diaries and journals.
If the storage unit owner doesn't set aside these items for returning to the original renter, you can find multiple websites online designed to help you return those keepsakes to their owners.
The popularity of storage unit auctions has changed the dynamics of bidding at most events. With an influx of new, excited, and inexperienced bidders, it's now common for prices to soar quickly regardless of what's actually of value inside the unit. Don't get carried away with the excitement of the auction and end up bidding high just because other people are driving the price up around you. A high bid is not necessarily an indicator that the contents of the unit have a high value.
Before heading to an auction, make a plan for what you will buy. Check out what's in demand at local consignment shops or flea markets, or focus on your own skills like appliance repair and furniture refinishing. Knowing where you're going to sell each item before you bid on it is the best way to avoid losing money due to feeling pressured by a fast-paced auction.
Bring Hauling Equipment
Don't assume you can empty out and clean the storage unit at your leisure. Each company sets its own deadlines for auctions, and you're only paying for the stuff inside the unit and not for rent on it. Many self storage companies want the auctioned units empty and clean by the end of the day, or within up to 48 hours, so they can get them rented to a paying customer again as quickly as possible. If you know you'll need more time, negotiate an agreement before placing a single bid.
Some self storage centers that also rent moving trucks and trailers may offer special packages for auction buyers with discounted rentals for units and hauling equipment. Shop around to see what kind of extras are offered by different storage companies before heading to the first auction you see advertised in your area. Check out the link in this sentence for additional reading.