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How to get started buying storage auctions

When people who rent self-storage units don't pay their bill, the contents of the unit go up for bid. We make it easy to find and bid on storage auctions near you. If you win a unit, you'll be responsible for completely cleaning out the contents of the unit. We'll charge your card a 10% buyer's premium ($10 minimum charge) and you'll typically pay CASH at the facility for your high bid amount. Some auctions require payment via credit/debit card over the phone.

If this is your first time using Lockerfox, we recommend reading this entire article. It covers the basics of how online storage auctions work and getting started on Lockerfox with tips for bidding smart and picking up your units in a successful manner. Please be aware of the full costs and policies before bidding. Happy Storage Hunting!

Is winning units at self storage auctions profitable?

Yes, you can certainly turn a profit buying abandoned storage units at storage auctions and reselling the goods. In general, you'll be taking goods purchased in bulk and parting out the items. The trick is to market valuable items to the proper buyers, in the proper place. If you're willing to do the work, you can make money with storage unit auctions.

You can also find treasures for yourself. There are bargains to be had everywhere. If you're on the lookout for some outstanding deals at an auction near you, check out these tips!

How do self storage auctions work?

To get started, find the storage auction website you like best, and one that has many units up for bid in your area. Nothing stops you from having accounts on all the auction sites, but if you like buying units from a certain storage facility (or large company with many locations), usually all that company's auctions will be posted on the same web site.

Create your account and do any setup needed, like filling in your phone number or a payment method. The site will charge a buyer's premium. Lockerfox charges a 10% ($10 min.) buyer's premium. If you win a unit, you'll need to make sure your buyer's premium payment went through successfully before driving to pick up your unit.

The Lockerfox buyer's premium is separate from the actual purchase of the unit from the facility. You'll typically pay CASH at the facility for your high bid amount, but some auctions require payment via credit/debit card over the phone. Read the information on the bidding page carefully.

This is important: Make sure you play by the rules. If you win a unit and never show up to pick it up, or leave a bunch of items behind in the unit, or leave trash all over the storage facility, the manager will ask Lockerfox to suspend you from their future auctions. Getting suspended from a storage company with lots of locations near you can really limit your ability to buy units.

Find online storage auctions near you

Now you're ready to start buying storage units!

Lockerfox makes it easy to find storage facilities holding auctions near you, just use the map view or search by distance from your zip code.

Remember that buyers must pick up units within two or three days, so be careful not to leap before looking when you are new to bidding and end up winning a unit too far away.

Remember having to make 2 trips to get the entire unit can hit your profit. Find auctions close to home!

How does bidding work at storage auctions?

Once you're ready to bid, remember it's real money. If a unit looks like a bunch of trash, it probably is. Don't get lost in dream-land thinking somebody left a rolling Snap-On toolbox in the back. Bid on what you can see. Always play it smart at a storage unit auction!

You're ready to bid! There are two ways you can enter a bid.

You can either place a bid on the unit, which will start at the listed minimum bid and goes up by $10 each time. Or you may enter your max bid (a proxy bid) in order to have the system bid on your behalf up to your maximum bid. You'll receive an email notification if someone else outbids your maximum bid.

If the overdue tenant pays their bill, the auction will cancel and the bidders will be emailed.

Auctions are "soft close" - bids received in the last minute will bump the countdown back to 1 minute.

Lockerfox policies to remember

Be aware Lockerfox has a 180 mile distance limit until you've won and picked up some units. Give us a call if you need this adjusted. It's always better to find storage auctions closest to home.

New bidders who have no track record with Lockerfox are limited to leading on 6 units at a time.

We know these limits can be inconvenient, but we've been doing this a long time and having a new bidder win a bunch of units too far from home and blowing off picking them up creates a huge headache for everyone. We appreciate your understanding and can change your limits if you give us a call.

Why do storage facilities cancel units?

Most cancelled units are due to the tenant paying their bill. State lien laws allow the tenant to pay their bill anytime prior to sale. Since the sale occurs when you show up at the facility after winning a unit, they can even get paid up after the bidding ends. It's important to understand this about online auctions.

When a unit gets cancelled, it will disappear from Lockerfox and also get removed from your watchlist, if you've watched it.

Sometimes the facility will realize a step in the lien process was not done, or there is some other legal complication.

Here's what we don't see. Facilities don't cancel units because the bid is too low. They just want to get the stuff sold and off their propery so they can re-rent the unit!

You won a unit, now what?

If you win a unit, you'll get an email (and a text if you've turned that on) and will need to contact the facility and let them know when you'll be in to pick up.

You'll need to bring cash for the bid amount, cleaning deposit, and sales tax (if charged). You pay those charges directly to the storage facility, and will get the cleaning deposit back once you empty the unit.

Some auctions require you to pay via credit card by calling a phone number.

You'll have up to 72 hours (48 in some auctions) to pick up your stuff.

If the facility is close by, you can just stop in - but if it's far away, please call before driving, you'll save yourself aggravation if the unit has been paid up by the tenant or for some reason can't be sold.

The overdue tenant can pay their storage unit bill until you show up with the money. Hurry in after winning!

What to plan for when pickup up your unit

  1. Bring a truck or trailer capable of picking up your size unit
  2. Make sure you are prepared to pay the sale price, plus any sales tax - and leave the cleaning deposit in cash.
  3. Make sure you bring a lock in case you need to make a second trip. You cannot leave the unit without putting a lock on it.
  4. Bring a broom to sweep out the empty unit, and a pair of gloves. ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES during your cleanout.
  5. Don't show up at the last minute, just before closing. Most pickups must happen during business hours, and the manager won't stay late for you.
  6. Don't assume you'll get a gate code. Many facilities don't give winners a gate code.

Stay on good terms with everyone for upcoming auctions

You'll want to stay on good terms with the storage facility manager, to make sure you can buy more abandoned storage units. Sometimes they have units that didn't sell and they'll offer them for free, and in general you'll want to have a good business relationship with each store manager. Most facilities post new storage auctions every month.

Click here to learn even more more about bidding on storage units.

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