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How Storage Auctions Work

How do storage auctions work? After a storage unit has been abandoned or gone into lien, self storage facilities may schedule an auction to clear out items. An auctioneer is brought in, and the units are auctioned off to the highest bidder. While you may encounter regular patrons at storage auctions who know what they’re looking for, plenty are attended by first-timers who are just curious. Regardless of which category you fall into, take some time to get to know how storage auctions function and what you can expect when you attend your first self storage auction!

Register Prior to the Storage Auction

Ahead of arriving at the storage auction, the storage facility in charge will most likely require you to pre-register to take part in the day’s event. That could mean signing up online, signing up at the facility itself prior to the day of the auction, or sometimes signing up at the facility on the day of the event.

How signup and registration are handled is determined by the facility manager, so don’t hesitate to reach out to the facility when you hear a storage auction is coming up in your area.

Know Your Storage Auction Rules

Storage auctions typically include a set of rules that aren’t always common knowledge. Before getting involved in your first auction at a storage facility, there are a few rules you should know and that will most likely apply to any self storage property you visit. Those rules are:

  • Bidders bid on the contents of the entire storage unit, not on an item-by-item basis.
  • The auction of each unit is open, so there are no sealed bids.
  • The unit is sold to the highest bidder.
  • The winning bid must be paid in cash upon winning.
  • A deposit may be requested by the site at their discretion until the unit is cleaned out.
  • The winning buyer is typically given 24 to 48 hours to clean out the unit or rent it under their name.
  • Vehicles are typically sold for parts only; no title is obtained to turn over to the winning buyer.
  • The buyer must return personal items, such as photos, legal documents, tax records, and identification to the facility so that they can be returned to the previous tenant.
  • Any firearms in the storage unit must be turned over to local law enforcement.
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Remember Winning Bids Can Vary

If there’s one thing from TV that may be accurate, it’s that winning bids on self storage units can vary from less than $100 to nearly $1,000. The reason for this has more to do with what’s visible inside of the unit than individuals driving up bid prices, but be aware that in a crowd of new storage auction attendees, it can be easy for prices to increase quickly when easily recognizable items are in view. If someone can guess what an item might retail for, they may be more likely to want the unit, driving the price up unintentionally.

Keep in Mind Units Are Won & Paid for Immediately

Once a storage unit has been purchased via a winning bid, the top bidder must pay the balance right away. Paying off the balance of the unit helps to ensure that the self storage facility gets back any lost costs associated with the unit being auctioned off. Additionally, once the unit is paid for, you may be allowed to start getting items out if no other auctions are going on around it.

Looking for more information on storage auctions? Find out what to expect during storage auctions and learn about common storage auction myths!