A Beginner's Guide
Contrary to the appearance sometimes given on television shows,storage unit auctions in Houston, TX are usually well publicized. It is in the interest of the storage unit owners to have as many bidders as possible. Similarly, they make the process as easy as possible but there are strict rules.
The guidelines and the locations of storage unit auctions can be found in the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Press, any other neighborhood papers and especially the Greensheet. The storage unit owners are required to post their auctions in the public notices section. In addition, many auctions will be advertised. It take some time and effort to find, sort and document the auctions in this manner so some people subscribe to any of the easily found auction information services in their city.
One of the great debates in the storage auction world is whether to look for storage units in the rundown areas of Houston or in the affluent areas like Montrose, the Heights or Meyerland. There is no real answer. Treasures can be found in both types of auctions but there does seem to be less competition in the less affluent areas.
Preparing for auction day is not simply getting some cash from going to the bank and grabbing a cup of coffee. While this may work for that select group of people who are only buying jewelry or have a staff to do the “dirty” work, most storage unit auction buyers will be searching and moving their purchases by themselves.
First, make sure that you bring enough money. There is no running off to the ATM after you win an auction. Most sellers demand that you settle up immediately while the rest of their staff moves on to the next unit. Next, bring a flashlight. Most units, even if lighted, will have dark spots. If you handle the load, also bring a padlock or two. This allows you to secure any units that you win until you can return and thoroughly search the unit. Also, make arrangement to bring a suitably sized truck or trailer to remove any of the merchandise that you purchase.
Lastly, don’t forget our own comfort. Many auctions are conducted outside, so wear the appropriate shoes, coats and accessories for the weather. Also, remember that, if you win a storage unit, that you might get quite dirty while searching through it.
At almost every auction, the bidding process starts with registration. You must fill out a simple form with your basic information. In return you are given an ID card with a number. In the vast majority of cases, you will not have to leave a deposit or pay a fee. Be wary of “auctions” that charge a fee as they are more like flea markets than true storage unit auctions and are avoided by the pros.
The actual bidding is done just like on TV. If you want to bid, you signal with your hand or say the amount that you want to bid. Typically higher bids must exceed the previous one by a certain amount that depends where the bid price is at the moment. If you are lucky enough to win, the auctioneer will ask for your number. Just show them your card.
Some other important rules that apply to bidding in all storage unit auctions in Houston, Tx are that you must be 18 years of age or older to bid, the contents are sold “as is,” and that a security deposit must also be paid until the unit is properly cleaned.
Retrieval, Evaluation & Disposal of Merchandise
Once you are recognized as the winner of any storage unit auctions in Houston, TX and you pay for it, you will be given possession of the unit for up to 48 hours. It is now your obligation, not your option, to completely empty the unit and leave it “broom clean.”
Once the auction is over or sooner, if you prefer, you can begin the process of sorting, valuing and liquidating the contents of your storage unit. Obviously, you will load the valuable objects into your truck but, as mentioned above, you are also required to remove any and all trash that is left in the storage unit. It is highly unusual for the storage facility to allow the use of their dumpster so make arrangements to transport the trash to an off-site dumpster or other trash handling facility.
The vast majority of storage unit auction sales in Houston, TX, are completed without any further complications. There are, however, some items that you cannot legally remove and must be surrendered to law enforcement or other proper authorities. If materials such as drugs, explosives or other contraband are found, law enforcement authorities should be contacted.
The situation for firearms is slightly more complicated. Any gun manufactured in the United States prior to 1899 is considered an antique and is not regulated by any Federal law. Similarly, some handguns or other firearms are legal to own and have simply been abandoned. It is best to surrender these weapons to a Federally licensed firearm dealer. If the gun is has not been reported stolen or identified as used in a crime, the dealer will make you a reasonable offer on the gun or it will be returned to you.
The Bottom Line
Storage unit auctions in Houston, TX are an excellent way to earn extra income on the weekends or in between jobs. With determination and the proper preparation, they can also be pursued as a full-time occupation. The road is long and difficult, however, as the picture painted on TV of quick riches is not accurate. In short, making a profit in the auction business is a lot of hard work.