If the popular reality-style documentaries, such as ‘Storage Hunters’ and ‘Storage Wars’ are anything to go by, then abandoned self-storage units are a treasure trove of exciting and potentially valuable items. Those TV shows follow the escapades of people who attend self-storage auctions, purchasing foreclosed storage units to see if the items kept in them have any value. A lot of the time, the units are full of junk, but every now and then antiques, collectibles or valuable pieces of jewellery are found in the foreclosed lots. If you’d like to see if you can replicate their success, these tips will help you to avoid some common mistakes, and reduce your chances of ending up with a locker full of junk.
How Do Self Storage Auctions Work?
In the UK, storage auctions are carried out slightly differently to how they are in the USA. It is rare to have group auctions where people visit the storage lockers to explore them in the hopes of picking up bargains. Instead, the lockers are auctioned off on a more informal basis, with deals often being carried out by email.
The best way to find self storage lockers that are up for auction is to contact companies in your area and ask them if they have any lockers up for auction. The company will then put you on a list of prospective buyers and will contact you when lockers are available.
This kind of auction is fairly good for buyers because it means that you don’t have to worry about rivalries and bid inflation. A couple of back and forth emails with the seller is all it takes to secure a locker. However, this also means that it’s harder to find out what the going rate is for lockers, so you may want to attend a few open sales (if you know of any happening in your area, just for the experience.
If you do decide to attend some open sales, wear comfortable shoes and old clothes (you’d be amazed at the disgusting things that are sometimes put into storage) and bring a flashlight so you can have a good look at the contents of the locker.
Another way to get good deals is to follow auctions run by companies such as AMS Auctions (http://www.amsauctions.co.uk), who sell off the contents of storage lockers piece by piece. This can save you a lot of time and reduce the risk of you ending up with junk because you will have a better idea of what you are bidding on. You will need a good budget for this sort of auction, however, because most storage companies will simply discard cheaper items and auction only the items that are likely to generate enough profit for them to recoup their costs. Focus your bidding on items that you have some expertise in, so that you know you are buying quality goods, and will not struggle to sell them on.