Most storage auctions sell their units whole: The auctioneer opens up the unit and the winning bidder walks away with all of the contents, including any trash or treasure inside. But this sales model is increasingly being replaced by piecemeal auctions, where the facility sorts through the unit and sells each item one by one. This allows bidders to pick and choose the items they wish to take home and skip the unpleasant task of sorting through things after the sale. But it's also an obvious way to price-gouge bidders, and it takes some of the excitement out of the treasure hunt. All in all, piece-by-piece auctions are a mixed bag.
These pieced-out auctions aren't new, but they do seem to be gaining prevalence in some places lately. Auction-hunters have mentioned running into them throughout the past few years, but they remain fairly rare. In many cases, the storage facility may choose to piece-out only a few of the units while selling others whole. This might be because a particular unit contains several valuable items that the facility believes will sell better separately.
Large items are easy to sell individually. Smaller items may be sold in clusters. For example, a unit filled with boxes might have each box up for sale individually, or a group of boxes could be sold as one small “lot.” The bidders would be allowed to examine the contents of each box, which does allow for substantially more research time than they'd otherwise have with a whole unit. On the other hand, all of this sorting, examining and bidding can take a long time; a single unit may take hours to sell.
Right now, these auctions make up only a small percentage of the total number of storage auctions held across the country. But if they start gaining in popularity, they may become more frequent. This is especially true now that many facilities are choosing to hold virtual auctions; since they're already in the unit taking photos, it's easy to separate out the items into individual lots.
The most likely case is that storage facilities may start removing key high-profile items to sell separately while auctioning off the rest of the unit in bulk. This helps increase the overall profits from a particular unit while avoiding the pitfall of unsold small items.
So what do you think of piece by piece storage auctions? Leave you interesting and creative response in the comments section below.