What is a storage auction? For those that don’t know, a storage auction is where storage companies auction off the belongings of tenants who have fallen behind on their rent payments, abandoned items in storage lockers, or when people have been evicted for living in the storage unit

This allows the storage company to compensate for rental fees they’ve lost through live auctions. Buyers place their bids and, as the gavel slams down, the highest bidder wins the contents of the unit!

Although you can rarely be sure of exactly what the units contain, buying their contents can be a great way to acquire new things you might need at a low price.

That being said, in-person storage auctions have become more difficult to carry out and less frequent during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if you’re wondering how to find storage unit auctions, you’ll be pleased to know they’re still taking place online. 

So, if you’re in the market for some cheap second-hand goods, read on for our list of storage auction tips.

1. Be Cautious 

For liability reasons, storage facilities are not usually permitted to go through the items in a unit before the auction starts. 

In online auctions, storage companies will mostly take photos of the items that can be seen  when the door of the locker or container is open, and, from this, determine what they think is inside. 

If the auction is in-person, bidders are permitted to take a look at the contents from outside the container without going in.

If you’re thinking of bidding for the items in the unit, especially in an online auction, be wary of whether the unit is safe or not.

Although it’s not legal to sell a unit in unsafe conditions — such as with mold, critters, or even hazardous waste — it does happen. To prevent this, don’t forget to use your sense of smell if the auction is in person. Moreover, zoom in on photos if it’s taking place online.

2. Budget

When it comes to coming out on top at a storage unit auction, it’s a practice that will improve with time. However, whatever your experience level, it’s important to establish a strategy.

For example, if you’re planning on selling the contents of the storage unit afterwards, make sure you set a budget that ensures you’re still profiting from the unit’s contents. 

Therefore, when thinking about how to buy storage lockers at auction, planning which ones to bid on and how much you’re willing to pay for them ahead of time is a good idea. This means you don’t get caught up in the excitement of the bidding process.

Looking for a budget storage solution? We pair homeowners with space, with people in need of storage for a cheaper alternative to self storage companies.

3. Clean Up

If you win the contents of a storage unit in an auction, you must clean up the unit or locker after you have emptied it. After buying a storage unit, you typically have between 24 to 48 hours to empty it.

Most storage units will ask you to pay a cleaning deposit of between $50 to $100. This will be refunded as soon as you clean out the unit. It goes without saying, one of our storage auction tips is to make sure you clean it properly afterwards in order to get your full deposit back.

4. Sorting Space 

Once you’ve won the bid, paid for the unit, and cleared it out, you’ll need enough space to sort through the contents and establish which items are worth selling before proceeding.

If you’re meticulous enough, you’ll be sure to find some hidden gems amongst what could appear to be a pile of junk. 

All you need is the space to be able to sort through the contents, and somewhere to store them for a while until they can be sold.

5. Identify Buyers

Finally, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and put feelers out to gauge what your potential customers might be interested in buying.

While most items can easily be sold on sites like eBay or Craigslist, speciality items might require more niche buyers. Therefore, in order to save time, it’s best to seek out potential parties ahead of the auction.

In short, storage auctions can be an excellent way to make money if buying and reselling is your thing. And by bearing our top tips in mind, you can be sure to minimize any of the potential risks involved.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get bidding!