Questions and Answers
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What is a "Storage Auction"?
Storage units are rented to store personal belongings and then, at some point, the monthly rental fee is not paid for a period of time. After a rather extensive process that must, by law, be followed, the contents of the unit are auctioned off orally at a live auction to the highest bidder.
Do I need a Resale Permit to attend a Storage Auction?
No. Everyone over 18 is welcome to a storage auction. You only need a Resale Permit if you don’t want to pay sales tax when you buy a unit. A Resale Permit only delays you paying sales tax; you will just send it to The State Board of Equalization with your own resale permit at a later date.
How old do you have to be to bid?
A buyer needs to be 18 years of age or older.
How do I register to bid?
Sign in with the auctioneer when you arrive on the storage site. To register, you need to have a driver’s license or a government issued ID card. Registration will be good for all auction locations on that day.
How do I bid on units I am interested in?
The most common way to bid is by raising your hand. Some people bid with winks, tapping their toe, pulling their left ear, coughing, and other different styles that are seen on TV. The problem with this type of bidding is that the auctioneer may not see your bid and sell the unit to someone else. Unless you KNOW for sure the auctioneer has your bid; wave, shout, or do something to get his attention before selling the unit you wanted to someone else.
Are the units sold in sections or as an entire unit?
Usually you will be bidding on the whole unit.
What contents are found in a storage unit?
You will find all types of merchandise. Furniture, clothes, tools, electronics, appliances, cookware, business equipment, sporting goods, baby items, toys, office supplies, books, collectibles, antiques, and other unidentified items you don’t even know existed.
Why is there a cleaning deposit?
Deposits are necessary to help insure people will clean out their units as they promise. Deposits are not a prepaid dump fee. As long as the unit is cleaned and swept on time as promised by the bidder, you will get a full refund of your deposit. These deposits are only to help insure bidders remove all items.
How much is the deposit?
The deposit is based on the storage site location, the unit’s size, the contents of the unit, and the buyer’s history with Storage Auction Experts. On most units, plan on at least $20.00 or more.
How and when do I pay for my unit?
Payment is in CASH only and will be collected after each unit is sold. We will sell the next unit only after payment is received.
When does the auctioneer sell the unit?
Auction of a unit does not begin until everyone is given ample opportunity to view the units’ contents from the storage doorway.
Why can’t I go into a unit?
We don’t want anyone to get hurt. Every so often the doors on the units are not properly working and could suddenly come down and hurt someone.
Why can’t we touch any items?
Again, we don’t want anyone to get hurt. Occasionally things of value have disappeared while people are viewing the items. The auction moves quicker when people are not touching items.
What should I bring to a storage auction?
These items include a flashlight, padlock, plenty of money and a good attitude. Most people bring snacks since once we start our auctions we continue all day from one storage site to the next, without a scheduled lunch break. Buyers also bring something to drink since not all storage sites have vending machines.
Once a storage unit is purchased, you will need a way to clean the unit completely empty. A great set-up would be a pick-up with a 16’ car hauler. This size trailer is small enough to go into storage sites and large enough to move almost anything found inside a unit. Another nice vehicle would be a small box truck with a lift gate.
An appliance dolly, a couple of furniture dollies, rope, tarp, and a small come-a-long will be most of the needed equipment to make moving items easy without breaking your back.
Why do bidders bring a flashlight?
Occasionally the units are in hallways or dark areas. A good flashlight will give the bidder a chance to see what items s/he is bidding.
Why do I need a padlock?
Once the auctioneer says, “sold”, the ownership of the goods goes from the tenant to the bidder. It is the buyer’s responsibility to protect his property.
How long will I have to clear out the unit?
All sites have different time for cleaning out a unit. Most of the sites with Storage Auction Experts allow 48 hours following the auction to clean and sweep out the unit.
What happens if I need more time to clean out a unit?
Talk with the manager of the storage site (before you buy a unit). Most of them will work with you on a pro-rated basis to rent the unit past the 48 hours. However, sometimes the unit you purchased may already be rented and the manager will not be able to prorate for you.
What does pro-rate mean?
Pro-rate is a percentage of rent on a daily rate. For example, if the unit rents for $150.00 a month, prorate for this unit would be $5.00 per day.
Will the employees of the auction and/or storage site help me to clean out the units?
No. You are welcome to bring others to help you clean out the unit.
What if the unit is not any good, can I get a refund?
No. The buyer of the unit is responsible to clean out everything, trash & treasures.
What happens if I don’t clean a unit out as agreed?
After each unit is sold, the buyer signs a contract with the auctioneer. Should the buyer not clean out the unit, the auctioneer will do what is necessary to get the buyer to hold up his end of the contract. This can include banning the buyer from all the storage auctions to taking the buyer to court.
How much do storage units sell for?
The selling price of storage units vary. Several factors can determine unit prices, including the number of bidders, the location of the auction, the weather, and the number of storage auctions in the same geographic area. Some units sell for as little as a dollar, while others go for several hundred or even thousands of dollars.
May I go to the bank to get cash to pay for my unit?
No, we take payment in cash for the unit and deposit as soon as the Auctioneer says “Sold”. Storage Auction Experts makes one exception: should the unit sell for over $2,000.00, we will let you go to the bank with a $2,000.00 cash deposit left with the auctioneer. You will have a maximum of two hours to find the auctioneer and pay him the remainder of the money owed or lose the deposit.
What do I do with personal items found in a unit?
Some managers would like you to turn in family pictures, birth certificates, photo albums, scrapbooks, medical records, court papers and other belongings of a personal nature that you find. Other managers don’t want these items at all. The auctioneer will let you know how the storage site prefers to handle these types of items.
Can I smoke at these auctions?
No smoking is allowed at Storage Auction Experts’ auctions. Several cities have laws against smoking and since Storage Auction Experts conduct auctions state wide, it would be difficult to know where smoking is legal. Smoking also offends a lot of buyers. Managers appreciate not picking up cigarette butts after an auction. Several storage sites had buildings burn down due to a careless smoker with a lighted cigarette.
Do you have any suggestions on how to make more money on these storage auctions?
Like any other business, there are several things you can do as a buyer to increase you revenue from these auctions. The majority of buyers who attend storage auctions learn all they can about recycling. It is good for the environment and good for your bottom line. A high percentage of storage units purchased will have items that are not economically feasible to sell. Learning which unwanted items can be turned into cash instead of paying dump fees can make a large difference to your bottom line.
Vendors at flea markets can be a potential buyer for unwanted merchandise. For example, should you buy a unit with a lot of clothes, you could find a vendor at the flea market and wholesale the clothes to them. This works for anyone at the flea market that carries a lot of the same items. (See our classified page)
Another source to find ways to move unwanted merchandise is to find a local small charity. Make sure the items you donate are usable and are not a hazard. Small churches, homeless shelters, orphanages, and drug rehab centers are possible places to donate. Check with your tax advisor, you may even get a tax deduction.
Speaking of taxes, hang on to all your receipts. Keep track of the miles you have driven while following the auctioneer to the different storage sites and picking up your merchandise. Keep all receipts the auctioneer gives you after buying the unit. Receipts for dump fees, parking, and bridge tolls should also be kept. Most successful buyers making a living from storage auctions follow these steps.
To make money with storage auctions, you will need to sell your merchandise. E-bay, Craig’s List, flea markets & garage sales are the most common ways to sell. A few buyers will ship merchandise by container to foreign counties.