How to make money from public storage auctions near you (2023)

Have you ever seen the A&E series? "memory wars"? The reality show follows a group of people who make money by bidding on storage units that are up for auction. The contents of the unit go to the highest bidder, who then resells the items and takes home a tidy profit. Sounds like an easy wayearn on the side, To the right?

Unfortunately, as so often happens, television looks simple. Making money from stockroom auctions is hard work and if you're not careful you can lose a lot of money and get stuck with a lot of junk. However, it can be a fun and lucrative business if you do it right.

So how much can you make from it, and is it worth the risk? Let's take a look.

The rise of the storage unit in the US

Americans have a love of shopping and collecting and always need more space for all their belongings.

How to make money from public storage auctions near you (1)
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CorrespondingSpareFoot Storage Beat, a self-storage industry news and analysis website, as of March 2018, there were between 44,000 and 52,000 storage facilities in the US with a total leasable area of ​​2.3 billion square feet. That's an average of 7.06 square feet per person. SpareFoot also reports that spending on building self-storage has risen sharply since 2014, rising from around $1 billion to just under $4 billion a year.

With the advent of the storage unit, storage auctions have become a profitable business in their own right.Einfach Self Storagereports that 155,000 storage units are auctioned nationwide every year. With an average auction price of $425 per unit, storage unit auctions have become an industry that brings in $65 million per year.

This is how auctions for storage units work

Storage rooms are auctioned off if a tenant defaults on the monthly rent. This often happens when someone dies and their family is unaware of the unit, when someone has a medical emergency, or when someone is going through a divorce. If the outstanding balance is not paid by a certain date, the unit will be auctioned off to allow the owners to recoup some of their losses.

The period from insolvency to the auction varies from state to state. In most cases, once a tenant is in default for 30 days, the storage unit owner must send a piece of registered mail advising them that if they do not pay, the contents of the unit will be auctioned off. After a further 30 days, the auction date is set. The owner must then advertise the auction for at least two weeks, stating the address and device number and a general description of the content.

(Video) How to SELL everything from an Abandoned Storage Unit / How To Make Money @ Storage Wars Auction

On the day of the auction, bidders are given a brief glimpse of the interior of the unit. You are not allowed to go in and look around; They must decide on a bid based on what they can see from the door and a guess what else might be inside. The unit can be full of junk or full of treasure; you never really know.

An auctioneer is on site to manage the bidding process. A storage unit could sell for $1 if there is only one bidder, or it could sell for thousands if there are many bidders and the unit looks valuable. The winner must also pay a cleaning deposit, which generally costs $100 to $200.

If you're the winner, you have 24 to 48 hours to empty the unit and make sure it's clean. If you meet the deadline, you will get your cleaning deposit back. You'll have to pay for the device, sales tax, and deposit in cash, so make sure you show up with several hundred dollars if you're the winning bidder.

It is also important to realize that once you win, you are responsible for itallin the unit. All of this “stuff” is yours now, and it must all be outsourced by the deadline.

What will you find in a storage unit?

A better question might be, "Whatchickensdo you find in a storage unit?”

There are many stories of auction bidders finding priceless treasure and shoeboxes full of cash in the units they have won. Others have found famous works of art,Antique and estate jewellery, shelves of designer clothes, cases of expensive wines and even celebrity memorabilia. But for every tale of hidden treasure, there are hundreds of tales of woe: junk cutlery, worthless documents, battered furniture, and broken bikes.

The secret to making money at storage room auctions lies in knowing how and where to resell everyday items that at first glance aren't worth much. Once you've gotten through a few auctions, it's possible to make a decent side income, or even a full-time income, from reselling these everyday items.

How to make money from public storage auctions near you (2)

How to find auctions for storage units

Check your local newspaper first; Even the smallest storage facilities need to advertise every auction they hold over the next few weeks and you can usually find a comprehensive listing of the auctions here.

Keep in mind that storage facilities in smaller towns are likely to have fewer visitors, increasing your chance of winning a unit with a small bid.

(Video) Storage Auctions Online Secret Bidding Techniques 2020

There are also several websites to help you search:

Tips for bidding storage auctions

Still itching to try the storage auction? Follow these tips to increase your chances of success.

1. Learn the process first

One of the best ways to start bidding storage auctions is to go to multiple auctions not to bid, but to watch and learn. See what the process is like, what people are bidding on and what they are not bidding on. Pay attention to what other bidders bring to make the process easier.

Talk to the winners after the auction. What will they do with the contents of the unit? Do they feel like they overpaid for the unit or got a good deal? Talking to experienced bidders can shorten your learning curve and help you avoid some common mistakes.

2. Watch out for power games

Watching multiple no-money auctions can also help you learn about bidding strategies and recognize when someone is trying to take advantage of you.

Sometimes experienced bidders will increase the bid on a unit to drive up the price. They do this to discourage new bidders, as revenge for a past mistake, or to protect their reputation. Regardless of their motivation, someone who raises the bid can result in you significantly overpaying for a unit.

You can see a bid increase when someone places a bid that is not in line with the pace of the other bids. For example, bids for a unit started at $25 and bids have increased in increments of $10. The current bid is $95 when suddenly a new bidder steps in and bids $275. If the new bidder really wanted the items for themselves, they would have bid $105 or a little more. It does them no good to unnecessarily increase the price they end up paying if they win.

However, bidding much higher isn't always a power play; The bidder may attempt to secure the unit based on what they believe they can earn for it. For example, if a unit is currently listed for $300 and a bidder thinks it can make more than $1,000, they might bid $1,000 to scare everyone else off. If they stop bidding after their original bid, you know it was just a try.

3. Have a plan

Imagine winning a 10′ x 10′ storage unit crammed floor to ceiling with boxes, bags and furniture. You only have a day or two to get all that stuff out; That probably won't give you enough time to sort everything on site. You need to move it first and then start sorting.

All too often, new bidders get caught up in the bidding process and end up winning a unit before they've even thought about what to do with the content. If the unit is not cleaned by the deadline, the bidder forfeits their winnings to the storage facility. The only way out is to extend the monthly contract with the storage to buy some time.

(Video) How To Buy Abandoned Storage Units & What to Expect

It's important that you have a planbeforeYou take part in your first auction or you end up paying a lot more than planned. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Where are you going to put all this stuff until you sort it and resell it?
  • Do you have enough space in the garage or basement to store it for a month or two? If not, do you have a dedicated storage room with enough space to sort items?
  • Do you have a truck to transport everything? If no, how much would a rental or moving truck cost?
  • Are you strong and healthy enough to move everything somewhere else? If not, how much will it cost to hire workers to move items for you?

4. Research where you can resell items

Chances are, you don't want to store all that stuff indefinitely, so you'll need to sort it, donate the junk, and resell the rest. This can take a long time, so have a list of places to sell or dispose of items.

This can include:

  • Ebay
  • Craigsliste
  • flea markets
  • Clothing consignment stores
  • Consignment stores for children
  • Mail order furniture stores
  • Local auction houses
  • antique shops

If you don't know much about vintage and antique collectibles, it's worth browsing antique stores to see what's for sale and how much it costs. This will help youIdentify valuable antiques and collectiblesif you find them in a storage unit.

You should also speak to representatives at your local auction house to find out how much commission they take. Most homes take a 10% to 25% commission on everything they sell. It's important to know this before bidding on your first unit so you can better calculate your potential profit. The same goes for local consignment shops, which can charge up to 50% commission.

You also need to know where to donate the items you don't want to sell. Remember you can get aTax deduction for donationsmany items, so it is important to determine which disposal option makes the most financial sense. A good start isGoodwill Valuation Guide, which lists the average selling price of the most donated items.

5. Be careful with almost empty units

Sometimes a storage unit is mostly empty, with just a few boxes or pieces of furniture. Be wary of these "empty" units as it could mean the renter has already walked in, taken the valuables and left the trash.

At your first auction, only bid on the smallest units with a decent amount of stuff in them. This gives you the ability to move, store, sort and resell items without getting too overwhelmed. As you gain more experience, you can work your way up to larger units.

Keep in mind that smaller units are often more attractive to bidders because they are easier to process and clean, so bids on these units can be higher even though they contain fewer items.

6. Bring the right tools

There are several items you should bring to an auction. With these tools you can better see what is actually inside the unit.

(Video) Storage Auctions - How To Find Storage Auctions Near You Auctionzip & FreeStorageAuctionLists

  • A flashlight. You need this to see into dark units before you bid and after you win.
  • A step stool. This can help you look beyond items in front of a unit to items further in before you bid.
  • A notebook and a pen. A notebook is useful for jotting down large visible items before the bidding begins to calculate how much you can earn from them.
  • A padlock. You should lock a unit with its own lock immediately after settling accounts with the camp.
  • Gloves, bags and disinfectants. If you want to start sorting the items immediately after winning, make sure you have everything you need to do it. Bring garbage bags, empty plastic bins, a broom, plastic gloves, a face mask, and hand sanitizer. Remember that you must leave the device completely clean, so be prepared.

7. Only bid on what you can see

If you fantasize about what might be hiding in that towering stack of crates or behind that old fridge, you can overbid on a device and lose money.

A better strategy is to only bid on the items you can see. Estimate how much you can earn from selling these items and do not bid more than 50% of that amount. This strategy lowers your risk, leaves room for profit, and ensures you don't pay too much for a unit. And when you find a box full of rare books behind that old fridge, that's the icing on the cake.

8. Know the code

Storage bidders have a code of conduct that dictates what they can and cannot do. One thing that goes against a bidder's code of conduct is keeping highly personal items that you find in a unit.

Imagine the unit you win has a box with photos, old birth certificates, love letters and an urn full of ashes. These are items that you should return to the storage facility, which will then attempt to return these personal items to the previous renter's family.

Another no-go is using the on-site storage facility's dumpster to dispose of unwanted items. You are responsible for disposing of all items in a unit you win, and that means going to the city or county dumpster yourself. If you use the facility's dumpster, you'll upset the owners and risk getting banned from future auctions.

9. Sort carefully

When it's time to start the sorting process, wear plastic or rubber gloves, pants, and a face mask. Items are likely to be dirty and dusty, and you never know what a box will contain until you open it.

As you begin to go through the articles, be meticulous. Go through trouser pockets, leaf through book pages, open drawers and look for hidden nooks and crannies. Money or other small items might be tucked away in unlikely places and you'll miss them if you don't take the time.

Last word

Bidding storage auctions is not a get-rich-quick scheme or a quick route to easy money. It's dirty, labor intensive and risky.

Despite this, it can still be a great way to earn a solid side income, especially as you gain experience and develop relationships with warehouse owners, auction houses, and other people who can help you resell the items you find. It can also be really fun.

Have you ever bid on a storage room? If yes, how was your experience? Found junk or treasure? What tips do you have for prospective bidders?

(Video) $5K Profit Storage Auction Unit Find | How to Hustle Storage Auctions | Make Money on EBAY 2019


Can you make money from storage? ›

Profitability is in the eye of the beholder. But, generally speaking, a self-storage business can be profitable. In fact, it can be more profitable than many other types of business out there. “Self-storage has evolved from the homely stepsister to the Cinderella of the commercial real estate industry.

Can you make money from auctions? ›

If you're looking to make some extra money, or start your own business buying and selling, online auctions are a great avenue for you to take and there are plenty of savvy sellers out there who've found they can turn a pretty profit via these marketplaces.

How do you sell storage? ›

Industry experts offer the following six pieces of advice about how to sell a storage facility.
  1. Use a self-storage broker. ...
  2. Hire a self-storage broker sooner rather than later. ...
  3. Don't go overboard with rate increases. ...
  4. Consider the curb appeal. ...
  5. Set the right price. ...
  6. Cast a wide net.
26 Jul 2021

Does South Africa have storage auctions? ›

iBidOnStorage SA is South Africa's only online auction platform dedicated to the storage industry, specialising in storage unit auctions.

How do you make money flipping storage units? ›

Making money in this business takes knowledge of how items will sell, as well as implementing smart bidding strategies.
  1. Find Storage Unit Auctions in Your Area. ...
  2. Explore Your Sales Avenues. ...
  3. Learn the Value of Common Storage-Unit Items. ...
  4. Rent a Truck or Van. ...
  5. Set a Spending Limit. ...
  6. Arrive Early With Cash. ...
  7. Sort Through Your Items.

Are storage auctions profitable? ›

Absolutely. Whether you're the storage owner or a bidder, there is profit to be made on auctions. However, there are some risks. If you're the owner and are auctioning, you would need to accept a bid high enough to recoup the losses from the previous renter's failure to make payment.

How do you win an auction every time? ›

15 eBay Bidding Tips: How to Win Auctions and Save Money Doing It
  1. Try making an eBay “Best Offer” to the seller. ...
  2. Thoroughly research the item that you want to bid on. ...
  3. Don't just research the item – research the seller. ...
  4. Don't engage in “low-ball bidding.” ...
  5. Don't bid too high, too early.
9 Mar 2022

What items sell well at auction? ›

primer on which types of items typically sell well at auctions.
  • Precious Gems and Jewelry. Jewelry and precious gems also tend to see high sale prices at auctions. ...
  • Sports Memorabilia. Any sports memorabilia, mainly if a star autographs it, is likely to do well at auction. ...
  • Toys & Comic Books. ...
  • Antique Timepieces. ...
  • Fine Art.
1 Feb 2022

How do I succeed at an auction? ›

How To Ensure Success At Your First Property Auction
  1. Try Before You Buy.
  2. Make Your Decisions Beforehand.
  3. Start Slow and Be Patient.
  4. Bid The Full Dollar Value.
  5. Think About Your Image.
  6. Don't Fear The Auctioneer.

How much net profit does a storage owner make? ›

Your profit will depend on several factors, including the size and location of the facility, whether you used a loan to acquire the property and how you're using the facility to generate income. A self-storage facility can earn an average of $350,000-800,000 a year.

How do I sell my stuff at auction? ›

Selling at Auction
  1. Get a Valuation, or an 'In-House Estimate' Most reputable auction houses (Gray's included) will be able to offer complimentary in-house estimates of your sale items. ...
  2. Consigning Your Piece. After the valuation, you will decide if you'd like to consign your item. ...
  3. Selling Your Piece - Before the Auction.

What percentage do storage auctioneers make? ›

The auctioneer may receive a flat 15-20% of the maximum bid price. Assuming the unit sells for $1,000, for instance, the auctioneer would receive $150-$200, paid for by the self-storage facility. This obviously encourages the auctioneer to raise the bids, as higher bids means more money in his or her pocket.

Why do people auction off storage units? ›

Self-storage unit auctions happen when storage tenants fail to pay their rent on time. After 30 days overdue, storage facilities can typically put a lien on the contents of the renter's unpaid unit.

How do I find out about local storage auctions? ›

You can find storage unit auctions by contacting nearby self-storage facilities or doing a Google search for “storage auctions near me” (many auctions take place online).

Can a storage company sell my goods in South Africa? ›

When a storage unit goes up for auction, the lien law of South Africa makes provision for the owner of the storage facility to open the unit and sell its contents.

What is the average return on storage units? ›

While growth rates are projected to remain steady, the self-storage industry has a strong track record of a high return on investment for most facilities. From 2009 to 2018, self-storage facilities averaged an annual ROI of 16.9%. This number was higher than office, industrial, retail or apartments during that time.

Are self storages a good investment? ›

Self-storage investments may carry the potential for strong returns during boom cycles as well. Buyers of second homes invest in self-storage space to house possessions during transitional periods; entrepreneurial or artistic tenants may use self-storage space for creative endeavors, or for product warehousing.

What is the 3 minute rule in auctions? ›

This 3 minute rule stipulates any party who bids online within the last 3 minutes of any Lot's scheduled closing time will trigger an automatic extension of a further 3 minutes of online bidding.

What is the 15 minute rule in auctions? ›

In this mode, the listing is automatically extended until no bids have been placed within 15 minutes. When 15 minutes have passed with no bidding activity, the listing ends. The purpose for the 15 Minute Rule is to prevent sniping and offer all users the opportunity to bid.

What should you not do at an auction? ›

7 Things You Should Never Do at Auction
  • Don't talk to your partner. ...
  • Don't phone a friend. ...
  • Don't let your body language give you away. ...
  • Don't bring the whole family along. ...
  • Don't dress up to the nines. ...
  • Don't be rude to the auctioneer. ...
  • Don't make silly bids.
17 Aug 2017

What stuff sells fast? ›

The 20 Best Things to Sell for Quick Money Right Now
  • Jewelry and watches. ...
  • Video game consoles. ...
  • Old phones and accessories. ...
  • Purses, wallets, and backpacks. ...
  • Yard equipment. ...
  • Jeans, workwear, and designer clothing. ...
  • Furniture. ...
  • Baby gear.

What is the most profitable item to sell? ›

Some of the most profitable products that are sold online are:
  • Jewelry.
  • Beauty Products.
  • Bamboo Toothbrushes.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Watches.
  • Women's Apparel.
  • Fitness Equipment.
  • Yoga Leggings.
27 Oct 2022

What item sells the most? ›

What products are most profitable to sell?
  • Beauty products and cosmetics.
  • Jewelry.
  • TV and smartphone accessories.
  • Designer sunglasses.
  • Children's toys and games.
  • Shoes.
  • Video games.
  • Pet supplies.

What do auctioneers say so fast? ›

Often prior to "closing the bidding" and selling an item, auctioneers will announce: "Going once, going twice, sold!" or "Going, going, gone!", followed by announcing the winning bid.

What is the best day to have an auction? ›

Holding an auction on a Saturday

Whether it is a Saturday or Sunday, the fact that over 90 per cent of auctions are held on the weekend is easy to understand: the majority of prospective buyers are at work during the week, while on the weekend they and any children are free to attend inspections and auctions.

What happens if you win an auction but don't have the money? ›

More often than not, the unpaid items someone refused to buy are quietly returned to the original consignor, put into a future auction with a lower estimated value or are sold privately for a significant loss.

What is a good profit margin? ›

What is a Good Profit Margin? You may be asking yourself, “what is a good profit margin?” A good margin will vary considerably by industry, but as a general rule of thumb, a 10% net profit margin is considered average, a 20% margin is considered high (or “good”), and a 5% margin is low.

How profitable is a cold storage business? ›

Cold storage is a highly profitable business. In our country, there is a significant need for Cold Storage for Vegetables. Many vegetables are wasted as a result of inadequate and improper Cold Storage for Vegetables. Cold storage is a lucrative business.

How do I invest in self-storage units? ›

You can invest through real estate syndication or invest in REITs that own and manage extensive portfolios consisting of self-storage facilities. If you can raise sufficient funding, you can also buy, or possibly construct, your own facility of storage units.

What is the most expensive thing to sell at auction? ›

SUMMARY. Christie's auction house in New York sold an Andy Warhol portrait of American actress Marilyn Monroe at a whopping $195 million. This portrait is the most expensive piece from the 20th century ever to be auctioned. Let's take a look at other items sold at auctions that fetched insane bids.

How do you sell high value items? ›

To sell high-priced products, focus on value instead of price. Price your products based on their value. No need to offer unnecessary discounts so that your customers don't object to the price.
  1. Identify the market. ...
  2. Select the right pricing strategy. ...
  3. Calculate profitability for each price point. ...
  4. Use value-based pricing.
11 Apr 2022

What is the most money found in a storage unit? ›

$7.5 Million of Cold Hard Cash

The most valuable find on Storage Wars was a cache of cash: $7.5 million dollars hidden inside a locked safe. The winning buyer of the locker found the safe inside after the auction and took it to a locksmith.

How much does Dave Hester make per episode? ›

During his time on Storage Wars, Hester was earning a whopping $300,000 annually (around $25,000 per episode), according to Celeb Tattler. His payday for Storage Wars puts him among the highest-paid members of the cast, and rightly so given his prior expertise as an auctioneer and pro bidder.

Are self-storage A Good investment? ›

Through our analysis, we believe the appeal of self-storage investing remains much the same: self-storage businesses tend to perform well during good times and, if managed well, show remarkable durability during hard times.

Is self-storage a passive income? ›

Before we jump into this, however, it's important to understand that there are two types of income: active and passive. Self-storage facilities generate passive income, so you can't use cost segregation to offset active income.

Is storage space in demand? ›

The tactical position of the many storage units available makes them a reliable place for storing and saving goods while being accessible at any time, anywhere. With all that said, it's predicted that the storage unit business will only increase in size and demand as the world is heading towards a new future.

Can you sell products from a storage unit? ›

You can take out an ad in your local newspaper or an online classified on craigslist, Facebook marketplace or ebay. Describe your items accurately and when someone inquires, arrange to meet the buyers at your storage unit.

Is self-storage a good investment for 2022? ›

Marcus & Millichap's 2022 forecast sees self-storage vacancy rise on an annual basis for the first time since the onset of the pandemic to hit 7.25%, an increase of 60 basis points year over year.

Why is self-storage booming? ›

The self-storage industry is seeing rapid growth as a result of the pandemic spurring more people to reorganize their homes, to find extra space as they work from home, and to move to the suburbs or move in with more family members.

How do I start investing in self-storage? ›

You can invest through real estate syndication or invest in REITs that own and manage extensive portfolios consisting of self-storage facilities. If you can raise sufficient funding, you can also buy, or possibly construct, your own facility of storage units.

Which income group is the most frequent user of self-storage services? ›

Income – 78% of all customers have an income between lower middle to the upper middle income bracket. Reasons for leasing – 54% moving. 32 % cleaning out basement / garage, 14% just temporary storage.

Can storage unit be a tax write off? ›

The good news is the cost you pay to rent a storage unit is tax deductible, along with these other moving expenses, as long as you satisfy distance and job tests from the IRS. The IRS only allows you to deduct moving expenses when your move was job-related.

Can you technically live in a storage unit? ›

No. Living in a storage unit is prohibited by various local and federal housing laws. Storage facilities must evict any person they find living on the premises to comply with the law and most insurance policies.

What is the most popular storage unit size? ›

Most Popular Average Sized Storage Unit

The most popular size storage unit is the 10×10 storage unit. This self-storage unit is roughly the size of a single bedroom or guest room. With 100 square feet of personal storage space, you can fit the contents of two bedrooms in this size storage unit.

Who is the largest self-storage company? ›

Public Storage

Long the leader in self storage, Public Storage once again earns its place at the top of our list. With 186 million net rentable square feet under its belt at the end of September 2021, the company's distinctive orange signs can be seen in 39 states.

Why do people sell their storage units? ›

Self-storage unit auctions happen when storage tenants fail to pay their rent on time. After 30 days overdue, storage facilities can typically put a lien on the contents of the renter's unpaid unit.

Should I put my stuff in storage or sell it? ›

The first and most obvious drawback is the price. You will need to pay for storage and you do not have to pay while you sell your things. When storing you spend money and with selling you spend time. If money is tight selling is a better choice while storage is better if you have no time to prepare to relocate.

How do you declutter a storage unit? ›

Tips for Efficiently Cleaning Out Your Storage Unit
  1. Take a Full Inventory. ...
  2. Strategize and Compartmentalize. ...
  3. Don't Be Afraid To Say Goodbye. ...
  4. Find Assistance. ...
  5. Set Aside a Day for Decluttering. ...
  6. Create Sorting Categories. ...
  7. Be Methodical. ...
  8. Plan Out Transportation.
9 Apr 2021


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