Insiders Guide to Self Storage Auctions Part 1

Growing up Greenwood, Indiana, I spent a lot of time at the auto auctions with my stepfather who owned several car dealerships. I always loved the excitement and fast pace of the auctions, but I had an even deeper passion…and, that was my music.
So, I did what any music-loving 20 something year-old, guy would do. I packed up and moved to Florida with a friend to play drums in a band full time.

Well, there I was living in Clearwater, Florida, playing drums in a band full time. Then one day while out driving, I noticed a sign out in front of a storage facility that said “Auction Monday.” I suddenly remembered a story that a friend in Indiana who managed a storage facility told me. Someone he knew won a bid on a unit at a storage auction that ended up having two Harley-Davidsons in it. So I went home and psyched up my roommate into joining me on my venture.

We went to several storage auctions just to learn the process before we made our first bid. Then, we finally decided to bite the bullet.
We emptied out the truck and trailer that I hauled all the band equipment in and headed out for the treasure hunt. We found one unit that looked good to us, bid on it and won, paying somewhere around 300 dollars for it. We loaded it all up and headed home to see what we had. Luckily we had a house with plenty of room to sort through it all and a great neighborhood for garage sales. We didn’t find any exceptional treasures or gold in that first unit, but we had a nice first garage sale that totaled around 1,700 dollars.

To a working musician, that was a great weekend! That’s all it took. We were addicted and back out Monday morning at another storage auction.

After growing tired of playing in smoky bars 200 nights a year, I was ready for a change and auctions had become my new passion. I decided to head to Reppert Auction School in Auburn, Indiana. (One unit of vintage “adult material” that I won for 500 dollars at a storage auction and sold on eBay paid for my tuition, lodging and food at school.)

I currently own Strange Auction Services in Tarpon Springs, Florida and conduct storage auctions as well as other personal property, commercial, Real Estate and benefit auctions all over the country. Anyway, that’s enough about me. Let’s show you how to make some money at storage auctions.

Have you noticed how self-storage facilities are popping up at every corner all over the country? Americans save everything and have no space to store it all. Consequently, they have figured out how to use storage units to save their things and increase their living space.

Every storage unit has a story. Sometimes people use them to store extra belongings when they relocate and can’t fit everything into their new home. They can’t stand to part with their old things, but just don’t have room for them.
Many parts of the country have houses with no basements and no room to store excess items. People use the units as an extension of their living space when they grow out of their closets and attic space.

Sometimes the story is a life-changing one. Divorces, deaths or job losses can cause people to downsize their living quarters and need additional storage. In the same way, some life-changing experiences can cause people to acquire more. College students move away and then back home with additional belongings. A person’s decision to work at home may mean they need storage for inventory. People also use storage units for both business and personal records.

Sometimes a storage unit is used as a giant closet for seasonal clothing or holiday decorations that are not in use. And, some storage units are used as garage space to store business inventory, lawn equipment, jet skis, snowmobiles, motorcycles, even boats and RV’s when they aren’t being used.

During tough economic times when people aren’t able to make their mortgage payments, the rent on a self-storage unit often is the first thing to be neglected. Or, there may be a number of other circumstances that prevents the renter from paying: death, jail, relocation, divorce, business closing or they simply forget about the storage unit.

In the United States, most self-storage facilities hold storage auctions or lien sales to vacate non-paying tenants according to their enforcement rights that are outlined within the laws of each state. They just want the space emptied and to recoup any lost fees or rent.

In the United States, there are an estimated 50,000 plus self-storage facilities covering 2.35 billion square feet. Each month, tens of thousands of units are auctioned off. Each site will have a different amount of units or lots to auction.
These auctions are opened to the general public with most bidders buying for the purpose of reselling for profit. These auctions are a great way to buy secondhand merchandise for pennies on the dollar and a huge profit margin. They are a great source of merchandise for people who want to resell at garage sales, at flea markets or on eBay and Craigslist.

See part 2……..

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