How to Buy Storage Units That Have Been Abandoned
How to buy storage units at auctions in your area!
We’ve all seen the TV show like Storage Hunters and Storage Wars, but are storage auctions in the UK and what are really like?
While we can’t promise you an overexcited auctioneer or a million-pound fortune, visiting a storage unit auction or online storage auctions is a great opportunity search for and pick up a bargain or an interesting piece of history.
Here, we are going to offer some insights and share our top tips on what a storage auction is and how you can find full storage units for sale in your area.
What is a storage auction?
UK storage unit auctions are becoming more popular with bargain hunters looking for that next hidden item but equally with those who generally have a passion for raiding storage facilities units.
Storage facilities units are often left to online auction when a customer defaults on paying their bills. While every effort is made to come to an agreement with the customer, if this isn’t possible, storage units are often offered to the highest bidder at auction in an attempt to recoup some of the debt.
What types of storage auctions in the UK are there?
There are two types of storage unit auctions available in the UK:
- Online Storage Auctions – These are by far the most common in the UK. Unlike the US TV shows we all love, one thing not to expect so often is visiting the storage lot in person while you walk around various units. UK online storage auctions are often conducted on websites or over email.
- In-person Storage Auctions – As we’ve said above, in-person storage auctions aren’t very common in the UK, but they do still occur. Get in touch with your local storage provider to enquire about upcoming listings and see if there are storage unit auctions in your area.
How do I find a storage auction?
Thanks to the internet and social media, you can find the best storage auctions near you from the comfort of your own home. Most storage companies use a number of free platforms such as eBay , Keepers Cottage Rosan Reeves Auctions and iBidOnStorage to sell units, and the site page will often give some details to customers as to their size, location and contents - do your research to find the best one near you. Whether its large storage units or small storage units, its what's inside that matters!
Similarly, a business may conduct their own private auctions with closed bidding, while others will employ auction houses on their behalf to recover money through a sale.
If you’re interested in finding out about upcoming storage unit auctions, search any storage companies facilities in your local area, many will have a list to sell or will notify you for free when they’re open to bids. Always research ebay though as you may find storage units for sale from owners.
How does a storage unit auction process work?
Depending on which type of online storage auction you attend, both boast their own benefits. Search out the facility that is local and is holding a store sale.
With the best live online storage unit auctions, prior to bidding going live, bidders can usually see a photograph of the storage unit for sale, which they usually taken from the store unit doorway. Potential buyers are not allowed to bid on individual items within the unit, and can only bid to buy storage units as a whole.
Online storage auctions are a convenient and stress-free way to bid on abandoned storage units. When bidding online, to find a deal you can make more educated bids as you’re likely to have more information on the items inside the unit and longer to consider how much they’ll sell for.
Attending self storage auctions in-person, allows a bidder to actually see the unit you will be bidding on for yourself, although similar to the rules of an online auction, bidders aren’t able to access the unit or take a closer look at the contents before making an offer. While you are able to see what is in the unit, you are not able to enter.
Once the live auction has ended, the winner will have a certain amount of time to pay and will have to go directly to the unit and clear the contents themselves. Some storage companies require successful buyers to clear the storage units pretty quickly with some providers allowing buyers to take a period of 24-48 hours before you are charged rent or interest for the unit.
Top tips for first-time bidders
When it comes to bidding on storage auctions, it can be easy to get carried away with the possibility of uncovering valuable treasures to resell, especially if you’ve just been introduced to the world of online auctions.
However, bidding on storage auctions is a huge gamble, as buyers often bid a price more than the contents are worth. When assessing the value of a storage facility unit, there are a few tips to consider.
- Set yourself a price limit: Overpaying Maintain your composure so you don’t become caught up in the excitement of the moment. People often end up bidding more money as they ride the wave of enthusiasm during the live auction. You must learn to take your time to evaluate units, determine possible resale value and calculate what you believe to be a fair price to pay for the unit. A smartphone can help you quickly look up potential resale values. When your predetermined limit is reached, stop bidding. Remember, do your research on a units value and the profit you might expect to make if you buy and then sell it.
Pay attention to the contents: Bidding on junk storage units Newcomers should have a solid understanding of how the process works as well as ways to identify units that are likely to contain valuable items. Haphazardly buying several units increases the risk that you’ll purchase junk. You should focus on fairly well organised units that appear to contain at least a few quality items. Don’t underestimate the potential of a facility based on its location. People of various socioeconomic levels store items in Self Storage units throughout the area.
- Only bid on units that are conveniently located: Come on, is it really sensible that you bid on that storage unit halfway across the country? The contents of a unit will only be yours once you arrive to collect them and you’ll also need to consider transport, as you’ll only have a certain number of days to empty the contents.
- Not having sufficient cash on hand Ensure you have sufficient cash on hand to pay the auction business the winning bid plus any auction fees so you won’t miss an opportunity. If you don’t have enough cash to make the payment, don’t bid on the unit. Most auctioneers won’t allow you to go to the bank and return to pay for the deal when the auction is over. Your research and budget will help you determine how much cash you should have.
- Insufficient storage space Once you win the bid, you’ll have 72 hours to clean out the unit. You’ll need the supplies and transportation required to relocate the items to your own storage unit, resale shop or dispose. Most storage facilities won’t let you throw large amounts of trash in their garbage bins. Failing to clean out the unit in a timely manner may cause you to be banned from future auctions or lose your cleaning deposit.
- Ineffective resale plan If you don’t have an effective plan to resell items at a profit, you’ll run out of money quickly. It’s important that you turn the inventory over as fast as you can so you`ll have the funds to purchase other units at storage auctions on iBidOnStorage. Potential ways to sell items include Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree garage sales, flea markets, and online auction sites, as well as through a network of other local sellers
What to do when you visit your storage facility
If you’ve just won a abandoned storage units auction, you’ll only have a certain amount of time to clear the unit of its contents. Here’s what you need to remember:
Check the rules: Before you go anywhere, make sure you check the rules before visiting the storage facility. This is particularly relevant to online auctions. While some will require all payments to be handled online, some private auctions may only accept cash. It is important you know what you need to do before showing up to collect your new storage unit.
A lock: If you’re making multiple trips, or are leaving the unit in-between collections, you’ll need a padlock to secure the contents.
Boxes: the items within the unit may not be boxed up properly, and so you’ll need to buy boxes and packaging to help make moving easier.
Transport: depending on the size or contents of a unit, you might need to rent a man with a van or enlist your friends or family’s help to move out.
The most valuable self storage auction finds
As we said earlier, buying a storage unit doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a quick fortune but if you get lucky, you could find some valuable items. Fans of Storage Hunters and Storage Wars will be familiar with the exciting prospect of hidden treasures lurking in abandoned storage units. And, while most storage units up for auction contain common household items such as furniture, clothing or paperwork, some savvy buyers have hit the jackpot with what they find their storage unit find.
Original Amelia Earhart Photos – Amelia Earhart became famous as the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic in 1928. Earhart tragically died in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world. Fast forward to 2011, a woman from California called Diane Tracy, found a collection of original photographs of Amelia Earhart in an abandoned storage unit she was buying. Each photograph is believed to have been worth £614.
Vintage Video Games – Another lucky storage unit buyer came across a fortune when featuring on the show Storage Wars back in 2017. The abandoned storage units purchased by the California man contained a selection of classic video games and console hardware. Little did he know at the time what he would find, but the games were valued at over £40,000 making himself a hefty fortune.
Cash-filled Teddy Bear – In the rarest of stories, a homeless couple from Arizona needed some furniture for their homeless camp when they decided to place a successful bid of £7.00 on a storage unit that contained an old sofa among other items. The unit also contained a teddy bear which happened to be stuffed with over £215,000.
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