You’ve seen it on TV. Someone bids on a storage unit and suddenly becomes the owner of $300,000 worth of original artwork or a $2 million copy of the first Superman comic. Many people believe bidding on storage units is a way to discover hidden treasure—and make serious cash.
We’re debunking common myths and misconceptions about self storage auctions. Learn more about what public storage auctions are really like.
Myth #1: Every Unit Contains Treasure
With 1.7 billion in rentable square feet across the United States, it seems possible that some storage units could hold long-lost valuables. Unfortunately, most storage auction treasures aren’t going to make you rich overnight.
Though we see person after person win big on TV, these scripted reality shows ensure that the bidder finds something unique and worthwhile in each unit. Storage auction reality shows place high-dollar valuables within units for our entertainment.
Though you may not find handwritten musical arrangements from The Beach Boys, you have a good chance of taking home a different sort of treasure. Many units contain items, like antiques, furniture or name-brand clothes, that you can resell for a several hundred dollars.
Myth #2: Valuables Are Removed Before Auctions
Despite some claims, storage facilities do not pilfer through units and remove valuables before auctions. Facilities are only allowed to open the unit door and take pictures for the auction under California law.
Storage units are sold as is. Everything within the unit legally becomes your property if you’re the highest bidder at the auction. Storage facility operators may ask you to return certain personal items, like family photos, to the previous owner.
Myth #3: You Don’t Know What’s In The Unit
Part of the thrill of a storage unit auction is the fact that you don’t know exactly what you are bidding on. You don’t receive an itemized list of what’s in the unit. There may be items packed away in boxes or hiding in far corners; however, you won’t be completely left in the dark.
Before an auction, you can peek into the storage unit. After the unit is opened, interested bidders can look inside from the entrance. They may not step into the unit or rifle through its contents. Experienced bidders may bring flashlights to help them examine the unit from a distance.
Myth #4: Storage Facilities Profit From Auctions
Auctions are a last resort for storage facilities, and they do not profit from them. When a tenant leaves items behind or stops paying rent, a storage facility can legally have a public auction. The facility can put a lien on the unit’s contents in order to sell them and rent out the unit again.
Storage facilities don’t profit from auctions. Any money made goes toward what the previous tenant owed on their account. After deducting any overdue rent, the remaining profit is sent to the tenant.
Storage auctions are a way facilities can clear out belongings and use abandoned units once more. Operators make many attempts to contact the tenant before putting their unit up for auction. All auctions are listed publicly, often online or in the newspaper. Many facilities hire a third party to run their auctions.
Do you want to buy an abandoned storage unit? Are you looking for affordable, month-to-month storage?