When renters cannot pay for their self storage units, auctions are held to clear things out. Most of the time you are bidding on everything in the storage unit, and not individual items. Bids can start as low as a few dollars and end up at a few hundred dollars, or even higher depending on the contents of the storage unit.
The best way to find out about these auctions is to look for ads in the newspaper or on the internet. You can also consult auction newsletters or directly call local storage facilities.
The facility manager opens up the unit and lets people see what is inside. Once everyone takes a look, bidders turn in their bid in a sealed envelope with their name and phone number. The highest bidder gets the contents of the unit. If that person does not pay, then the next highest bidder gets the same opportunity.
The unit is opened up and sold in a typical auction-style. Most self-storage facilities allow you to view the storage unit, but the exact contents may be hidden in boxes and storage bins. You will not be able to open any boxes or ask any questions. You want to examine the overall condition of the unit. If things are well-organized and labeled, bids will generally be higher than a unit that has things in large piles and damaged boxes. Some units are tightly packed, and you won't even be able to see past a wall of boxes. You may only have a few seconds to see the storage unit's contents before bidding begins.
The manager of the self-storage facility announces the auction and does not open up the storage unit. So, the bidders are bidding on it without even seeing its contents. Usually nothing more is revealed than the size of the unit, although occasionally a contents list is published without specific details. Sealed bids are taken for a certain amount of days, or sometimes a live auction is held.
With a little preparation, self-storage facility auctions can be a great way to acquire some real treasures.
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