SealedOnlineBids.com has recently merged with StorageBattles.com and will continue doing business under the latter's name. Altogether, these two sites have over 25,000 registered bidders and cover auctions for 1,000 different facilities.
StorageBattles holds virtual storage auctions. Rather than holding a live auction, storage facilities can list their units online with photos or videos. Bidders then find and bid on units in an eBay-style auction, and can retrieve the items after the sale. This is understandably an appealing option for storage facilities, which may not wish to deal with the mess and liability of crowded auctions, but these sales aren't without problems of their own.
We've talked in the past about whether these online storage auctions are legal. In case you missed it, here's the issue: In some states, property law wording regarding storage auctions is vague. In others, like Texas, it's pretty clear where and how auctions are supposed to occur.
According to Chapter 59 of the Texas Property Code, “A sale under this sub-chapter must be a public sale at the self storage facility or a reasonably near public place.”
By legal definition, the Internet cannot qualify as a “public place” since it's not a physical location. At present, StorageBattles seems confident that there will be no legal ramifications from holding these virtual auctions. All the same, we won't know whether their defense would hold up in court until after a lawsuit has occurred.
In the meanwhile, one thing is clear: This merger made good sense for StorageBattles. Assuming that the legality of online auctions gets cleared up, it's reasonable to guess that they'll become the wave of the future when it comes to storage auctions. Buying out SealedOnlineBids – their largest competitor – before these auctions really catch on is a smart move.
Update April 10th, 2014 - A new competitor, OnlineStorageAuctions.com has entered the online storage auction marketplace. This new site is completely free and offers storage facilities that are located in states where online storage auctions are questionable a legal alternative to online only storage auctions.