It used to be that professional bidders, thrift store owners and flea market entrepreneurs were the main buyers at self storage auctions. But because of the popularity of A&E’s “Storage Wars” and Spike TV’s “Auction Hunters,” many novice bidders have joined the fray and increased numbers of attendees at storage auctions. Whereas a year ago only a handful of bidders would attend an auction, now those numbers have grown exponentially.
“Most of the auctioneers I talk to through (the Virginia Auctioneers Association (VAA) and National Auctioneers Association) credit it to the TV series,” auctioneer Brian Hash, who founded Hash Auctions nearly 17 years ago and is serving as the VAA’s president this year, told the Washington Post. “People have started to pay attention and come out to buy units, because it’s kind of like a treasure hunt. People wonder what’s in the boxes back there that they can’t see.”
As with other areas across the country, Oregon self storage operators are reporting high defaults in reaction to the recession. Local operators are employing strategies to try to decrease the number of delinquent tenants. Some managers allow tenants to coordinate their auto-pay rent payments with paychecks instead of making rent due on a specific day. But when tenants default, attendance at auctions skyrockets.
Defaults by renters have been up since 2008, peaking in 2009. Self storage operators typically try and work with renters the best they can to get payments back on track. But while some self storage facilities hold an auction sale once every month or every few months, some are as high as two a week.
When attendance at auctions was lighter during recent years, storage facility owners rarely came close to recovering what was owed on the delinquent units. The increased attendance at auctions has helped push up auction prices. Because of this, buyers looking to turn a profit on a unit are finding it harder as margins narrow.
Self storage associations across the country are taking notice in the increased interest in self storage auctions, lobbying lawmakers to streamline lien laws and overhaul notice requirements. Associations are also focusing their meetings and workshops on the auction phenomenon. The Maine Self Storage Association will hold its annual member workshop June 9-10 at the Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, Maine. Educational seminars will take place on the 10th including a presentation by Paul Maglio, president of Storage Auction Solutions, who will speak about how the success of reality shows such as “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters” has affected industry lien sales.
“Reality TV Show ‘Storage Wars’ Peaks Interest Auctions For Storage Shed Contents.” The Washington Post. March 21, 2011.
“Oregon Self-Storage Operators Report High Occupancy, Defaults Because of Recession.” Inside Self-Storage. March 17, 2011.
“Maine Self Storage Association to Hold Annual Workshop, June 9-10.” Inside Self –Storage. March 16, 2011.