If the idea of being a modern-day treasure hunter appeals to you, storage auctions can be a fun way to spend a few hours and potentially make a profit. Although real-life auctions are rarely as exciting as those portrayed on reality TV shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, plenty of people do attend these auctions as a part-time job or even full-time income. If you'd like to try it for yourself, it's a good idea to learn about these auctions so you'll know what to expect.
Storage auctions occur when a tenant falls behind on rent for a storage unit. After several attempts to contact the renter through every known channel, the facility will place a notice of an upcoming sale in the local newspaper or other publication. On the day of the sale, the lock will be cut from the unit, and the auctioneer will allow the bidders to look at its contents.
When looking at the storage unit, you will not be allowed to go inside the unit or touch anything. You can, however, bring a flashlight to help you see inside. After everyone's had the opportunity to look inside, the bidding will start. Once bidding slows down, the auctioneer will sell the unit to the highest bidder.
The bidder may pay for the unit then in cash, or the auctioneer may prefer for the payments all to be made at the end of the auction if multiple units are up for sale. You can ask the auctioneer about his preference if he doesn't state it at the outset of the auction. Either way, you'll need to be sure to have plenty of cash on you: You won't have time to run to the ATM after winning a unit.
Depending on the size of the storage facility and the frequency of its auctions, a storage auction might consist of several or even a dozen units. All together, the auction might last for a few hours, especially if there are a lot of people in attendance. Once you've purchased the unit, you'll need to have it cleaned out within 48 hours, so it's wise to devote at least one full day to your auction hunting.
Each auction you attend will be unique and offer you plenty of new learning experiences, but all of them conform to the same general format. Once you know what to expect, you'll be better prepared for your first auction experience, which will give you a real advantage over your fellow newcomers.