To Bid or Not to Bid?

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Bidding on units at a storage auction is a huge gamble. You can win a unit filled with treasures fit to be seen on Storage Wars—or you could end up with hundreds of pounds of trash. While you’re not going to know exactly what you’ll find until you’ve won the unit, there are a few things to look out for when deciding whether or not to bid. So the question you should always ask yourself is: to bid, or not to bid?

To Bid:


I know…dusting is a total chore. But this is one scenario where dust is going to work to your advantage. A nice layer of dust covering the items in a storage unit is an obvious sign that no one has been in the locker for a long time, which means nobody came and took the good stuff…and there’s a better chance of finding older, possibly antique items.

Neatly Packed Boxes

Look for packed boxes that have been stacked neatly, are clean, and pretty uniform in size. This is a good sign because it shows that the former renter took care in properly storing their items. If they went through all of the trouble to make everything so neat and well protected, there might be something good hiding in those boxes!

Goods in Plain Sight

While the previous two on this list are important to look for, this might be the most crucial. Many storage hunters live by the mantra of “bid only on what you can see”. And this makes sense! If you see plently of resalable items in plain sight, it’s practically like insurance that you’ll at least make your money back on the bid. It’s also a good sign that there’s more where that came from. Generally, storage hunters will not bid much higher than the total value of the items they can see—that way, if the rest of the unit happens to be a bust, it won’t hurt your wallet so bad!

Not to Bid:


Many people assume that a locked safe in a storage unit will be filled with gold and diamond earrings and $10,000 cash. Keep on dreamin’! Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Many safes will be empty, or filled with paperwork and legal documents that were important to the previous tenant, and completely useless to you. Also consider the cost of hiring a locksmith to open the safe. While cheaper safes can easily be pried open, higher quality safes will require a locksmith that can cost you upwards of $100. Now, do you think that safe is really worth it?

Trash Bags

Trash bags usually contain one of two things: old clothing….or trash. The chances of finding anything that’s incredibly valuable in a trash bag is very minimal, considering it offers very little protection. If you see a unit that has more trash bags than anything elese, stay away! You might end up paying more in trips to the dump than you did on the unit itself.

“Staged” Units

Does the unit look too good to be true? Is there a brand new computer front and center, and are all the the boxes facing forward in plain view, with labels like “old comic books” and “baseball card collection”? Sounds fishy, right? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes, an unscrupulous auctioneer or tenant will try to make a quick buck by “staging” a storage locker—placing all of the good items in the front, with mountains of worthless trash behind it. Be very wary if you feel that the unit is staged.

As you can see, there are a lot of things you need to look for when bidding at a storage auction. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so don’t just assume that these rules are absolute. A unit covered in dust could be filled with garbage, and the unit filled with garbage bags could be full of treasure. As long as you make educated bids, you should start making money in no time. Bid like a pro,
and win like a pro!

Val Doty is the content writer at Storage Unit Auction List, a website dedicated to bringing customers the best and largest listing of storage auctions on the internet. Storage Unit Auction List is paired with more than 50,000 storage facilities nationwide, ensuring auction listings in every state.

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