How to Buy Abandoned Items from a Storage Unit

By MyNewPlace Guest Blogger, Leon Harris of Find Myself Storage!

Every year, hundreds of storage units go into default (much like houses go into foreclosure) because the people who rented them can’t (or won’t) continue to pay for them.  While you’d think they would remove their items, many storage units are simply abandoned, prompting the owner of the storage facility to sell off the items within as a last-ditch effort to recoup lost income.  What this means for bargain-hunters is that they can attend auctions with the intent of purchasing an entire unit in order to sift through it for items of value.  With many people strapped for cash, now is a great time to take advantage of a market flooded with storage units on their way to the block.  But you’re going to need to learn how to find both the units themselves and the treasures that are housed within.

For starters, there are a few ways to find out when the contents of a storage unit will be up for sale.  You can look on websites like Craig’s List or check your local classifieds, but you’re better off simply calling around to storage facilities in your area and asking when they plan to have auctions.  Likely they will host several at the same time, like a massive group garage sale, in order to attract a larger crowd and maximize their earning potential.

If you’re interested in purchasing a unit (or several) and you call ahead or come early on an auction day, the owner may be willing to allow you in to take a quick peek and even make an offer before the unit goes up for sale.  If they can recoup lost funds without having to host an auction, it means less hassle (even if they stand to lose a little money).  They will likely have a set price in mind that is somewhat higher than the amount owed on the unit in back-rent, although in some cases it may be even more if they’ve sifted through the contents and found rare or valuable items.  You can always try to haggle for a better price, but as soon as other bidders are involved you will have lost your advantage.  Believe it or not, there are people who actually make a living doing this, much like those who pick through barnyards across the country looking for antiques to refurbish and sell.

As for what you will find at these auctions, it will vary greatly.  In case you didn’t know, most of the items that people place in self-storage units are actually junk to the rest of the world.  They are often populated with old furniture and sentimental items that people want to save but not display.  However, you can usually find a few gems here and there (and occasionally, even a whole unit packed with saleable merchandise).  If you have any experience with garage sales, then you will likely recognize the setup.  You simply have to know what you’re looking for (in other words, recognize value when you see it) and ascertain at a glance whether there is anything in the unit that is worth the amount of money you’re paying.  In this way, you can hit several units in order to turn a quick buck.  The trick to this type of auction is finding the trash amongst the treasure and getting it for the lowest price possible.

Leon Harris writes for Find Myself Storage, where you can locate a storage facility that is close to home and meets your specific needs.

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