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How Does A Storage Unit Auction Work? Can I Make Money Buying Them?

How Do Storage Unit Auctions Work?

Self-storage units are a great way to store extra items and property for which you don't have an immediate need. For a monthly fee, storage unit companies can keep your things safe and protected, while freeing up space in your house. However, when people are delinquent on their monthly storage rent, or leave belongings behind, those items can be sold to the public through an auction.

What is a Storage Unit Auction?

During a storage unit auction, the belongings of a storage unit are auctioned off to the highest bidder to recoup the loss of rental fees. Generally this process is conducted via a live auction where bidders place their bids aloud as the property within each unit is auctioned off. However, occasionally a storage company will accept sealed bids, whereas bids are placed through a sealed envelope and the highest bidder wins the items.

How Storage Unit Auctions Work

Before the auction takes place, attendees are first made aware of the rules of the auction set by the company. Then, bidders are allowed to peruse the contents of the units being auctioned off, usually by looking through the entrance of the unit and taking note of what's inside. After each bidder has examined the unit, the live auction commences and the contents of the unit are sold to the highest bidder. Unlike most auctions, where a bid is placed for a single item, storage unit auction bidders can only bid on the entire contents of the unit.

After the Bidding

After the bidding is completed, bid winners have a small amount of time to pay or risk forfeiting the bid. Generally, payment is required directly after the auction or, at the most, the next day. Cash is usually the preferred method of payment; however this varies from company to company, so attendees need to be aware of payment type accepted before attending the auction. Depending on individual state laws, an applicable sales tax may be charged as well. After the payment has been made, the winning bidders are given a set period to remove the contents of the unit.

Legal Issues

To protect themselves and to prevent wrongful sales of property, storage unit companies generally make several attempts to contact delinquent tenants either through phone, email or though notices of non-payment mailed directly to them. However, a lien can legally be placed on a unit as little as 30 days after a missed payment. Once auctioned off, the contents of a unit legally belong to the winner of the bid and the previous unit renter has no legal right to the items. For the bidders, all items received are sold "as is," therefore it is buyer beware when it comes to the contents of a unit so bidders should be aware of the the contents of the unit and its value before deciding to place a bid.

Finding Storage Unit Auctions

Many current and upcoming storage unit auction listings can be found through legal notice postings in state and local newspapers. Another way to find a unit auction is by contacting the storage company directly, either through the company website, or by calling them to inquire of upcoming auctions. Due to the recent popularity of storage auctions, there are also several websites devoted to unit auctions, including where to find them, and tips on how to get the most from your bids.

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