Five Considerations for Storage Auction Bidders

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Norm Kotoch, Jr. |

Cleveland Storage AuctionsTelevisions shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters have recently made storage unit auctions extremely popular. Cast members travel from facility to facility, on the hunt for unique, rare or highly valuable items that might make them rich.

While television makes storage auctions look fun and exciting, there are a number of behind-the-scenes procedures and stipulations that play a role in the auction process. This post provides an overview of what a storage auction is, and includes some important considerations for new bidders.

What is a storage auction?

A storage auction is a lien sale held by the owners of a self storage facility in efforts to remove the contents of a storage unit after the renter has failed to pay for an extended period of time. Self storage facilities must schedule and host storage auctions according to their state’s lien laws.

Auctions are open to the public, and bidders attend auctions with the intention of purchasing items to then sell for profit. As seen on television, the outcome of a storage auction can be very positive – or very disappointing – for participants.

In addition, the renter of the unit up for auction is able to pay the balance on his or her account up to the time that the auction commences, which results in a cancellation of the auction.

Participating in a Storage Auction

Experienced bidders on television make the job look easy, but new bidders should be cognizant of the common policies and procedures associated with storage auctions.

Consider the following tips and considerations prior to your first auction:

  • Cash payments. Most storage facilities will only accept cash payments, and payment is due at the point of sale. In addition, a security deposit is often a requirement for participating in the auction. Bidders should plan to carry enough cash to the auction to cover both the deposit and potentially large transactions.
  • For your eyes only. Bidders are not permitted inside the unit prior to the auction. The auctioneer will give participants a designated amount of time to scan the contents from the doorway. Boxes, trunks and bags cannot be opened.
  • Units sold as is. When bidding on a unit, you are purchasing all of the contents within the unit unless communicated otherwise by the facility or auctioneer. Bidders cannot pick and choose items to purchase
  • Plan to empty the unit. Facilities typically require the winning bidder to remove contents from the unit within a short timeframe, sometimes even the same day. Failure to do so can often result in loss of your security deposit.

    Come prepared with a large vehicle or moving truck to ensure that removal of items is quick and efficient. If you need additional time, check with the facility manager about potentially renting the unit until you are ready to clear out the contents.

  • Dress for the weather. Storage auctions take place whether the sun is shining or the snow is piling up. Especially when several units are up for auction, bidders should be prepared to be outside for an extended period of time, and should dress appropriately for the weather conditions. 

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Real-life storage auctions can be a fun way to discover intriguing items like you might at a garage sale or antique shop. But, the catch is that you really never know what you’re going to find. Although not every unit will contain hidden treasures, for some, the hunt is what keeps them coming back.

If you are interested in storage auctions in the Cleveland area, visit our storage auctions page for details and auction schedule.

Have you participated in storage auctions? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below.


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Photo Credit: LizMarie_AK


  1. Brittany Rein's avatar
    Brittany Rein
    | Permalink
    I really like reading your blogs, and your tips. They're really helpful. I love going to storage auctions, if you need any help finding storage auctions. Check out, its a really great place to find storage auctions!
  2. Norm Kotoch's avatar
    Norm Kotoch
    | Permalink

    Thanks for offering this resource!

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