There is money to be made from storage unit auctions, as you've seen on the popular shows Auction Hunters and Storage Wars. But how do these auctions work? This guide will teach you basic tips and secrets for success at storage units auctions and making some extra income in the process.
Things You Will Need
Local newspapers with classified ads to find upcoming storage auctions. Cash to purchase storage units you may win. Padlocks to lock any units you win. A flashlight to get a good look inside the storage units before you bid. A truck or other large vehicle to haul away your stuff.
Find an auction. The first step for storage auction success is actually finding an auction. Storage facilities won't advertise these on the sign out front, but they are typically required to post legal notice of upcoming auctions. These legal notices appear in various local newspapers and publications, but can appear in many different papers as most states only require the paper have a certain geographic distribution. Another way of finding auctions is to just call storage facilities and ask, but this can be very time consuming.
Auction bidding. Once you've found an auction, you need to know the ground rules. Some auctions are different, but at most the auctioneer will cut the lock to a unit and open it up for everyone to see. What you are bidding on is the entire contents of the unit, no matter what they may be. You won't be allowed to go into the unit or touch anything, so it is all about what you can see from the outside. Are there neatly stacked boxes? Does it look like the renter was careful when loading the unit? You will have just minutes to piece together a picture of the renter and decide if the stuff he stored in this unit is worth anything.
Clearing out your unit. If you win, you will usually have to clear out the unit completely within 24 to 48 hours. This includes any trash that may be in the unit, which you will be responsible for disposing of. Most places won't let you use their dumpsters, so have an idea of how you are going to dispose of any garbage. Packing everything up and sorting through it at your own place is most efficient.
Selling the stuff. Hopefully you have found a number of treasures in your storage unit to resale for a nice profit. There are many outlets to sell your items. Larger items that would be difficult to ship are easiest to sell on Craigslist or in the classified ads in your local paper. Smaller items are likely better suited for eBay, which offers a much larger pool of potential buyers.
Disposing of what didn't sell. No matter how good of a unit you won, you'll probably find a good bit of stuff you just can't sell. If it is a useful item that you just can't find a market for, donate it to a worthy charity like Goodwill and take the tax write-off. If it is just junk, it is time to make a trip to the dump.
Besides being an exciting hobby, you can make a great side income bidding on storage auctions. It is all about finding auctions, bidding on and winning good units, and selling off the stuff you win. You'll learn more after attending a few auctions, and can also learn a lot of storage auctions secrets from investing in a good e-book on the subject.
Tips & Warnings
1. Have some way to haul your stuff off before bidding, and know where you're going to put it. You aren't allowed to pick through the stuff in a unit and just take what you want. You have to take everything! So make sure you have a truck or other large vehicle and some space to put the stuff until you can sort and sell it.
2. Decide what to you want to pay for a unit before the bidding starts. Don't get caught up in the excitement of the auction and overpay!
3. Bring padlocks to lock a unit after you win. The original lock will be cut, and if you don't have your own lock you'll either have to miss out on the rest of the auction or leave your stuff unsecured.