Tag - Storage Auction

Who Profits From Storage Auctions?

100_2033-1Occasionally, the bids on a storage unit at auction can go very high. The unit might be filled with rare items and collectibles, or the bidders may just be eager to win the unit in hopes of turning a profit on its contents. In some cases, the price of a unit can be dramatically inflated by overenthusiastic bidders, and the auctioneer might find himself bringing in a substantial sum of money for the items being sold.

When this happens, who gets to keep the profits?

Although it may not seem like it at times, storage facilities are not actually in the business of selling their units. Facilities exist first and foremost to rent out storage space to people, and these facilities make their money by collecting monthly rent. Auctions only occur when a renter has defaulted on these rent payments.

The purpose of this auction is to earn back some of the money lost in unpaid rent while clearing out the unit and making it available for the next renter. Facilities do not seek to earn profits from these auctions. In fact, in some states, they cannot legally make a profit from a lien sale.

Officially, the proceeds of an auction go first toward paying off the lost rent. If there is any overage, the facility manager must attempt to send that money back to the renter. If this fails, the state laws may allow the facility owner to hold onto the money for a predetermined amount of time. At the end of that period, the state will let the storage facility keep the money. This policy does differ from one state to the next, however, and the majority of states do not work this way. Instead, these states require the money to be held in state-operated escheatable accounts, where the money may linger indefinitely unless the original tenant steps forward to claim it.

The only person at a storage auction who will benefit from high bids is the auctioneer. Auctioneers are paid a commission based on a percentage of the total bid, so it's in the auctioneer's best interests to get the bidding as high as possible. That said, most storage units aren't worth much money, and the bidding often fails to go over the amount owed on the unit. Overall, no one is getting rich off storage auctions but many people on both sides of the auction are able to pay their bills with them.

Storage Auctions: Fun for the Whole Family?

Storage Auction FamilyWhen you think of fun family activities, storage auctions might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, maybe they should be. After all, a storage auction offers a great opportunity to spend time with your kids and teach them valuable lessons about money. Whether you’re attending the auction to find items to use in your own house or plan to sell the items for a profit, your kids can learn a lot about the life cycle of household goods and how to effectively manage cash to make a profit on resale.

The other benefit to bringing your kids to an auction is that emptying out a storage unit takes a lot of work. Having extra hands available to haul out items, pack away trash and sweep up the unit can definitely come in handy. This is especially true if your kids are older teens capable of heavy lifting.

If you do plan on bringing your family along to an auction, here are a few things to keep in mind to make things go more smoothly:
-- Ask ahead to see if the facility will allow minors. Some won’t let kids attend an auction due to liability risks.

-- Make a plan for the day. Auctions can run long. Bring some snacks in the car and map out the route to all of your auctions if you plan to attend more than one. Planning will prevent some of the crankiness after a long day.

-- Remember that auctions can be dirty, crowded, hot and full of strangers. If your kids are younger, find a sitter or leave them with the other parent so you don’t risk annoying fellow auction-goers.

-- Consider bidding together on an online auction instead. This will allow you to spend time together unloading the unit without the added time standing in the heat bidding. It’s a good compromise if your kids don’t have the time or attention span to commit to a full day of auction-hunting.

Like most activities, bringing your kids to an auction can require additional planning, but the rewards may be well worth the effort. You may even find a willing partner for your resale business once they get a bit more experience under their belts.

Have You Found a Vehicle at a Storage Auction?

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Clothes, books, jewelry, household goods, and tools are what you would expect to find at storage auctions. Maybe you found cash, gold or silver inside your locker. Or even collectibles or antique furniture.

Have you found a car or motorcycle inside a storage unit yet?

In an episode of Auction Hunters: Pawn Edition Allen and Ton won a ’68 Stingray Corvette at auction. Doesn’t seem real that you’ll find a car at a storage facility, does it?

Here are a few vehicles bought at storage auctions.

  •  1965 2-door Cadillac fully restored
  • 500 separate pieces to a 1959 Cadillac discovered under a tarp — fully restored valued at $50,000
  • Suzuki Sport Bike with super low mileage
  • 1972 Chevy Impala
  • 1969 Chevelle
  • 2 Mopeds about 30-years old still in good running condition
  • 1972 Convertible Ford Mustang
  • 1923 Model T

Then one of the rarest finds of all. A 1966 Shelby GT-350 Mustang one of only 1,100 original made and in near perfect condition. Car believed to be property of automotive designer Carroll Shelby. Car sold at auction for over $2 Million.

The vehicles listed above are just a few “reported” finds. Do note that across the USA there are many abandoned vehicles left behind inside storage units for whatever reason.

They’re out there ready to be discovered and that’s reality.

Where Do Celebrities Store Their Belongings?

Celebrity Storage Auctions

It's every auction-hunter's dream: Opening a storage unit and finding out that it's full of exclusive celebrity paraphernalia. Who wouldn't want to see original photographs, unreleased recordings, hand-written song lyrics or other one-of-a-kind items from famous people? Not only that, but many celebrities are huge collectors in their own right, picking up souvenirs from filming locations or hoarding valuable items. Sometimes, these items end up in storage units, and sometimes, those units go into default.


Celebrity storage auctions aren't the most common occurrence, but they do happen. Recently, Lindsay Lohan's belongings went up for auction. There was also the famous Paris Hilton storage auction, and of course the lost Beach Boys memorabilia auction that occurred recently. So, if you're an enterprising storage auction-goer, you might be eager to predict when and where the next celebrity auction will occur.


Unfortunately, this isn't always easy to predict. First, there's no telling when a celebrity might default on his storage locker. Most celebrities have people who handle their finances for them, so even the most irresponsible celebs usually avoid major financial trouble or at least forestall it for a long time. Many storage lockers are also prepaid, so even if the celebrity goes broke, the locker will be protected.


There's another complicating factor, of course: many celebrities don't store items under their own name. They do this for privacy reasons and to deter curious thieves and vandals. Instead, they'll put their units in the name of an agent or assistant. This can make it hard to tell where they do their business. It can also make it hard to know for sure who owned a unit that goes up for auction; it's always possible that a random unit might actually belong to a celebrity using another name.


Still, there's a few things you can assume. A celebrity will usually use a nicer, higher-security facility in a good neighborhood. There's also going to be a higher chance of items being stored in a city known for its celebrity population, like Hollywood or Nashville. Don't think those are the only places where celebrities are keeping things, though: They might also keep their belongings in their home town, or they might have picked up a storage unit in a different town while filming there. Also, don't forget that the parents and other relatives of celebrities could be storing their items as well – it happened with Kobe Bryant, it could happen again.


Overall, it's probably best not to obsess too much over a celebrity's storage unit. Your odds of finding one are extremely slim. Still, it can be fun to think about, and you never know – an amazing celebrity auction might be just around the corner.


Storage Auction Fees


Before you start bidding on a storage unit, it's important to realize that the amount you bid may not be the final amount that you pay. You need to account for extra fees, otherwise you could end up in trouble. You don't want to bid your last dollar and then be left unable to cover the cost of the auction. Here are a few fees and extra costs you should be prepared to pay:

  • Some auctioneers charge their buyers a premium. Depending on the way the auctioneer handles his or her fees, this could be charged on top of the winning bid, or it could be subtracted from the winning bid. Make sure you know which it is before bidding. The auctioneer's fee is usually about 10% of the total, so it's a good idea to keep that much buffer room when bidding just to be safe.
  • Unless you have a Sales & Use tax permit, you'll need to pay sales tax on anything you buy at auction. Of course, if you're in the resale business, you will probably want to obtain one of these permits anyway. If you're just starting out and aren't sure whether you'll stick with it, though, set aside enough money to cover sales tax.
  • The storage facility will probably charge you a cleaning deposit. This should be refundable if you manage to clean out the unit within the 24 to 48 hours required by the facility. Check in advance to figure out how much the deposit will be and how much time you have to get the unit emptied out. This is also a good time to verify where and how to dispose of unwanted items.
  • Some auctioneers have begun charging cover charges for auctions as a way to reduce the number of buyers who arrive. This is not a widespread practice by any means, but it does come up from time to time. You can call in advance or check the auctioneer's website to see if this is something you'll need to deal with.

By knowing what costs will come up during the auction, you can budget accordingly. This will help you maintain enough money to buy the units you want. It will also help you calculate the final cost of the auction so that you can keep your profit margins high enough to support your business.

Malcolm X : Historical Storage Auction Halted Just Ahead Of Deadline

Malcolm X

It's not just the common folks, apparently, that can find themselves far enough behind on their storage unit payments that the contents are placed on the storage auction schedule. According to a July 27, 2012, New York Post report, the family of Malcolm X neglected to pay $2,447 in storage fees, allowing the account to fall into delinquency. The property in the storage unit, once belonging to political and social activist Malcolm X, was scheduled for auction on July 26. That's the kind of opportunity that storage auction aficionados dream of. But, alas, just barely ahead of the deadline, representatives of the estate of Malcolm X stepped in.

After a bit of negotiation, the Manhattan Mini Storage in Inwood agreed to grant an extension. The estate of Malcolm X has until August 20 to bring the account current. However, historic memorabilia fans may want to take note of that date and keep a sharp eye on auction schedules. After all, this isn't the first time that failure to pay storage charges has resulted in belongings of Malcolm X ending up on the storage auction schedule. In fact, a very similar situation happened in a decade ago in Orlando, Florida, noted the New York Post's famed Page Six column.

In 2002, Malikah Shabazz, a daughter of Malcolm X, neglected to pay $600 in storage fees to the facility in Orlando where the unit was located. The result of allowing the account to fall into arrears – the sale of an important collection of personal papers belonging to Malcolm X. A Florida flea market owner got the winning bid at the storage auction, getting the historic collection at a bargain price. After disappearing from the public eye for a short time, the collection was due to be sold that same year at auction via Butterfields, a high-end auction house that was owned by eBay at the time.

The surviving family of Malcolm X got wind of the impending auctioning off of the collection and took quick action. A legal dispute erupted over the ownership of the documents, which halted their sale at Butterfields. That resulted in the collection coming back under the control of the Malcolm X estate, where the battle between the heirs over actual ownership raged on. The conflict over the collection was a part of a much greater battle between Malaak Shabazz, Malikah Shabazz, and Ilyasah Shabazz over other assets that make up the estate that Malcolm X left behind.

Amazing things find their way into the market through neglected storage unit fees. Increasing the chance of making such great finds requires an organized approach. Make a note of it when a storage unit that you may be interested in makes the news, like that of Malcolm X did. Then, keep a sharp eye on the storage auction schedule in that region, just in case storage fees go unpaid and the contents go up for sale. Historic memorabilia fans may want to make note of the August 20 deadline for estate of Malcolm X to bring the storage account current and watch the auction schedules carefully, just in case they don't. After all, they do say the third time is the charm.

New York Post

E-Commerce Times

Storage Auction Rules


In the following article, we will elaborate on the rules that are common at most storage unit auctions throughout the United States. Storage auction rules and laws vary by state, storage facility and auctioneer, so please consult with a professional in your area before relying on the following information. The official rules will usually be given out prior to each auction. It is the buyer's obligation to familiarize themselves with federal, state and local laws relating to the purchase, transportation and possession of their merchandise.

Bidder registration. Please arrive at the storage facility 10-15 minutes early to allow yourself enough time to register and get familiar with the rules. Once you arrive, go into the rental office and sign in. Each person who wants bid must register and obtain a bidder number from the storage facility or auctioneer before the auction begins. If you fail to register and you win a unit, the auctioneer or storage facility reserves the right to sell the unit to the next highest bidder. Your bidder number will usually be next to your name on the sign in sheet. If you buy a storage unit, you will need this number, so it is a good idea to remember it. Some storage facilities and auctioneers will have you sign an acknowledgment of the rules, while others will announce the rules verbally. The terms and conditions may vary from one auction location to the next.

There is no fee to register for an auction. When you register, you will be asked to provide your name, address, phone number and your tax exempt status. At some auctions, you will be asked for valid identification, although this is rare. Rest assured, the storage facility is not allowed to give out your personal information, so you don't have to worry about the former owner contacting you to get their stuff back.

Some auctioneers and storage facilities will have several auctions occurring on the same day. Some auctioneers and storage facilities will require you to sign in at every location, while others only require you to sign in once for the entire day. Please speak with your auctioneer or storage facility manager to confirm their policy.

Storage facility owners, managers and employees are eligible to participate in the bidding process, although most do not, in fear of a conflict of interest.

Payment. If you win a storage unit, you must report to the rental office at the conclusion of the sale. Full payment must be made before you can remove any merchandise from the storage unit. You will be required to pay the bid amount, sales tax (unless exempt) and the security deposit at that location before moving on to the next facility. Cash is the primary method of payment at storage auctions, although some storage facilities do accept debit and credit cards. Checks are almost never accepted. Please speak with the storage facility manager about the accepted methods of payment prior to placing a bid.

Once you arrive in the rental office, the auctioneer or storage facility manager will be processing the payments of the winning bidders. Usually, only one transaction is processed at a time, so there may be a line. If you are tax exempt and the auctioneer or storage facility doesn't already have your resale tax number on file, please have your resale certificate ready for them so that they can make a copy. Once they accept your payment, you will be issued a receipt and a temporary access code to the storage facility.

Please make sure you have enough cash on your person to cover your bid. The auctioneer doesn't have time to wait for you to go to the bank or ATM because they must move on to the next location. If you decide to go to an ATM after the auction, you do so at your own risk. If you you're not back before the auctioneer or storage facility manager has finished processing the other winning bidders, they reserve the right to terminate your bid and resell your unit to the next highest bidder.

Sales tax. Sales tax must be paid unless no tax is due. If you have a lawful exemption, a valid resale tax number on file with the comptroller's office or if you are purchasing a vehicle, trailer, recreational vehicle or boat, sales tax will not be charged. If you are tax exempt, the auctioneer or storage facility will have you fill out a tax exempt form which is then kept on file. All other buyers must pay sales tax on the amount of each winning bid.

Announcements. Any announcement made the day of the sale, prior to or during the auction, will supersede any other announcement or advertising. The auctioneer or storage facility manager reserves the right to reject any bid, place a minimum bid, revoke bidding privileges or cancel the sale completely. They may also sell the units in their entirety, in lots or item by item.

Age minimum. Buyers must be over the age of 18 to bid. Some storage facilities do not allow children, so it is a good idea to call the storage facility in advance if you need to bring them with you. When children are permitted, they must be supervised at all times.

Inspection. During inspection process, the auctioneer or storage facility manager will remove the lock and raise or open the door. Everyone will have an equal opportunity to inspect the contents of the unit from the doorway. Please do not go inside the unit or touch any items. If you are seen doing so, the auctioneer or storage facility manager reserves the right to refuse your bid and/or ask you to leave the auction. Once everyone has had a fair amount of time to inspect the unit, the auctioneer or storage facility manager will open up the bidding.

All items are sold “as is.” Please examine the storage unit thoroughly before placing a bid, because once the auctioneer or storage facility manager says sold, you have bought the unit. All storage units are sold “as is” and without warranties, representations or guarantees. All sales are final.

Securing the unit. If you win the unit, you must immediately place your own lock on it. If you do not have a lock, you can usually purchase one in the rental office. The storage facility is not responsible for the contents of the unit after it has been sold.

Cleaning out the unit. Most storage facilities allow you 24-48 hours to remove all of the contents and sweep the unit clean. Every now and then, you will come across an auction that requires the winning bidder to remove the contents on the same day, although this is rare. The auctioneer or storage facility manager will announce how much time you have before the auction begins. If you need additional time, most storage facility managers are willing to work with you as long as you keep them informed. You also have the option of renting the unit, which allows you to take your time.

If you fail to clean out a unit, it can have severe consequences like losing your security deposit or being banned from future auctions at that storage facility. If the auctioneer hears that you failed to clean out a unit, you could be banned from all of his or her future auctions.

The storage facility's dumpster may not be used by buyers without the permission of the facility manager.

Cleaning deposit. Most storage facilities require you to pay a cleaning deposit on every unit you purchase. These deposits usually range from $40-100 and are fully refundable if the unit is cleaned properly within the designated time. The purpose of the cleaning deposit is to prevent people from purchasing a unit, removing all of the valuables and leaving the unwanted items and trash behind.

Once you are finished cleaning out the unit, please stop by the rental office and let the employee on duty know. The employee will inspect the unit to verify that all of the contents have been removed and that it has been swept out. If the unit has been cleaned out properly, the employee will return your security deposit.

Personal items. If you find personal items inside of the unit, please leave them with the property manager so they can return them to the tenant. Personal items include photographs, identification, tax and legal documents, birth, death and marriage certificates, diplomas and items with sentimental value.

Common courtesy. Please be civil toward the auctioneer, storage facility employees and other bidders. Anyone that is disruptive or causes an altercation will be asked to leave and could be barred from attending future auctions.

Are The National Storage Auction Lists A Waste Of Money?

National Storage Auctions

Finding storage auction listings can be a daunting task in some parts of the country. One may become so frustrated that they turn to paying a storage auction listing service for their information. Now, I'm not suggesting that all storage auction listing services are a waste of money, there are several of these service that provide listings for specific cities or states, and they do a pretty good job. As a matter of fact, our service, AuctionsTX.com provides the storage auction schedule for the Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin areas and they are extremely comprehensive. The purpose of this article is not to bash on these National auction lists, but to educate storage auction buyers on what these services actually do and don't do. One of these services makes a lot of claims which I personally find hard to believe. Let's take a look at these over exaggerations.

1. One service claims that they send out 21,330 emails and make 97,250 phone calls every month.

Okay, where do I begin? In order to provide a thorough compilation of storage auctions from across the United States, they would have to spend a fortune on labor. To have a call center capable of contacting 51,252 storage facilities twice a month, you would have to employ a full time staff of 11 people working 40 hours per week . Making 97,250 phone calls per month, would require over 1700 man hours (roughly $17,000 in monthly call center labor costs alone).

They would need an additional support staff of at least 10 people to handle facility relations, their website, customer service, & research. Even with moderate salaries, that's another thirty thousand per month in labor costs. Factor in a massive internet advertising campaign costing in excess of 15k per month and a television commercial, and I don't see how this company is making a profit. This company would need to make nearly a million dollars a year to just to stay in business. So what gives? The quality, that's what. I have seen their auction lists and from looks of it, I would guess that they only have a handful of people working for them and that they don't actually contact every facility twice per month.

If there is really a support staff like they claim, why does the CEO respond to your emails?

2. They claim that there is no possible way for an individual to obtain enough information to even come close to rivaling their list.

Most storage auction buyers don't need information on auctions outside of their immediate area, so this is irrelevant. If a storage auction buyer devotes several hours to making a list of storage facilities in their community & devotes a few hours per month to calling the facilities, they will be able to find more auctions than this national list could ever provide for their area. In major metropolitan areas, it may be more difficult to call every storage facility; however, most major metropolitan areas have newspapers, auctioneers & local auction listing services which provide a wealth of information.

3. One of these companies claims to provide the most complete & comprehensive auction list available. Their exact words are " very rarely is there an auction we miss".

This is just a blatant lie.

I recently read the following frequently asked question on their website. "How often do you update your data? I am finding auctions not on your list!"

I would imagine that since they posted this in their frequently asked questions, that they obviously are asked this question frequently. Why do you think this is? Is it because they don't do what they claim to do?

In Texas, this service claims to have 385 auctions coming up. What does coming up mean? Does it mean this month or over the next few months? Okay, lets assume the best case scenario that all 385 auctions were for this month. There are over 5000 storage facilities in Texas and they collectively have over 1500 storage auctions every month. Using their own statistics, the fail to list roughly 74% of the auctions in our state. I would imagine that these statistics are consistent in other states as well. If they are really making 97,250 phone calls every month, how can this be? Something isn't adding up.

5. One service claims that since their website covers every single facility in all 50 states, that you can pick auctions that nobody knows about.

First of all, most storage auction buyers don't travel further than 60 miles from their home to attend an auction, so 99% of a national auction list is useless to them. Second, roughly 15% or 7500 storage facilities in the United States don't even have auctions.

What this company is most likely doing is compiling a list of auctions from readily available sources; sources that the average individual could easily find by spending a few minutes on Google. These sources are advertised to the masses and the auctions are flooded with buyers. Also, since these national listing services have thousands of members, do you really think that nobody else knows about the auctions they advertise?

Their pricing plans make no sense either. They justify higher prices in larger states because they claim there is more work involved. I live in Texas, but I don't travel further than 60 miles from my home. Why should people in larger states have to pay more when they only need access to auctions in their area?

I hope this article pushes some buttons! I would really love to get a response from one of these services but, I have a feeling it's not going to happen.

Have you ever used a national storage auction listing service? If so, I would love to hear from you. Leave your interesting & creative responses below.

Storage Auction Schools – Worth Their Salt?

Storage Auction School

In my opinion, paying for a course to learn about storage auctions is unnecessary. Our storage auction blog is completely free and available to the public. You can rest assured that the information you receive on this blog will be objective. Some of the companies that sell storage auction courses are using marketing practices that over exaggerate profitability. They also neglect to inform the their potential customers about the current conditions that are affecting all storage auction buyers. Besides, what information could they possibly provide that isn't already available to the public?

In my opinion, these self-proclaimed schools are nothing more than overpriced e-books; However, I would love to get some feedback from the creators or users of these courses. Even if you haven't used one of these courses, do you think they are worth their salt?

This subject is open for debate and I welcome your interesting and creative responses.

How to Open a Safe That You Purchased in a Storage Auction

Open Safe

Finding a safe in a storage unit is not a common occurrence; However, it does happen. In my first year of buying storage units alone, I found five. Three of those five had no valuables inside of them; However, after I had them opened, I was able to resell them and make a small profit. Used safes can bring a pretty penny and they typically sell fast. Not only that, you never know what valuables may be inside.

I'm sure most of you have seen the episode of Auction Hunters where the guys use a cutting torch to open a safe. Using a cutting torch is a bad idea. If there were high-end items inside the safe, they could be damaged by the flames or heat. Some of the safes I have opened contained precious items like collectible paper currency, valuable documents, stamp collections, mint proof sets, cash, watches,  jewelry & an antique revolver. It isn't worth risking damage to items like these just to save a few bucks.

Trying to break into any safe with a resale over $75 is like throwing money away. For example: a Sentry standard size fire safe with a retail value of $150 would cost less than $50 to have opened and would typically resell for $75-$100. If you were to break into this safe, it would be unsellable. Also, some safes have a re-locker mechanism. Though the designs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, if the re-locker is tripped when the when someone is trying to break in, it triggers a set of auxiliary locking devices which will lock out the safe completely. Even the proper combination will not open the safe once the re-locker has been activated.

Hire a locksmith or a safe technician. This will save you money in the long run because they can typically open the safe without causing permanent damage to it. Then, you can resell the safe and recover the fees you paid to have it opened and, in most cases, turn a small profit. If you are lucky enough to find valuables inside, that's just icing on the cake.

So, how does the locksmith open the safe?

This really depends on the type of safe. If it is a standard size fire safe and the previous owner never changed the factory issued combination, the locksmith can usually make a phone call to the manufacturer and have it opened in minutes. If the original combination has been changed, they may need to drill a small hole on the side of the tumbler, which can be easily soldered. The fees for these services range from $30-$50 for a standard re-key or replacement combination to $50 -$100 to have the safe drilled and the tumbler combination changed.

If it is a common fire safe, and you want to save a few bucks, you can contact the manufacturer directly. Most manufacturers will charge you around $35 for a replacement combination. They will require you to sign an affidavit and have it notarized and it can take up to a week to receive the code. Keep in mind, there is no guarantee that this will open the safe since the original combination may have been changed. Once again, I recommend hiring a locksmith who specializes in safes. In most cases, locksmiths won't charge you a fee if the manufacturer's code doesn't work and you have them open by another method immediately.

If the safe opens by key only, the lock can be picked or drilled and replaced inexpensively. If it is an antique or a high security safe, it may require you to hire a safe cracker. Most crackers charge a minimum of $300 to open a safe; However, this shouldn't cause dismay. Chances are, if you have to hire a cracker, the safe is worth a lot of money.

I hope this article has been helpful.