Most storage auctions follow a pretty straightforward and familiar format: You arrive, examine the unit, start bidding, and pay for the units you win. Occasionally, though, something might happen to disrupt this flow of events. In some cases, an auctioneer might shut down the bidding without awarding the unit to anyone. This can be frustrating, but understanding why it occurs can help you make sense of things. In general, there are three primary reasons why an auctioneer will shut down bidding mid-auction.
The first reason is that something illegal or dangerous is found in the unit. In most cases, the auctioneer has never seen the inside of the unit before cutting off the locks and opening it for bidding. If something unexpected is found inside, the bidding might be canceled. This can be a disappointment if you see something valuable inside, but it protects the auctioneer, the facility and all of the bidders from legal trouble down the line. Examples of items that could cause bidding to be shut down include human remains, drug paraphernalia, vehicles, guns or stolen items.
If a unit's contents are extremely valuable, a storage facility manager may have set a reserve price on the unit. If auction attendance was low or bids just just didn't reach an amount that the facility manager felt was fair for the unit, the auctioneer may pull the unit from the sale. In a case like this, you always have the option of making a higher offer to the facility manager after the auction has concluded.
The last reason an auctioneer might shut down bidding on a unit is less obvious. In some cases, the auctioneer might halt an auction if the bidding goes higher than expected. This happens because some storage facilities require district manager approval for units that go over a certain dollar amount. We're not exactly sure why this is; however, the most likely explanation is that the that the facility attempt to contact the tenant once more to make payment arrangements. In the event that something particularly valuable is found in the unit, causing its price to jump, the former tenant is more likely to sue the facility for that money, especially if the facility manager did not follow the lien laws to the letter. This is why some auctioneers are super cautious when it comes to pricy auctions.
Not every auctioneer will respond the same way to every situation. You may be accustomed to a certain way of doing things, then be surprised when a different auctioneer makes another judgment call. Try not to get too disappointed when bidding is shut down, though, regardless of what might be found inside the unit. It's better for an auction to be put on hold early on than to get caught up in a legal battle of your own once you buy the items inside.