How to buy storage units at auction

I think buying storage units at auction is a great way for anyone looking to make some extra money. On my blog I tell you how to become a seasoned storage unit auction veteran, on your very first day!

You really don’t need much to get started buying storage units, if you have under thousand bucks and you are looking to invest in a short term venture that can double or even triple your money over night, buying storage units at auction might be for you. It’s fun, you will find some interesting stuff and it’s very profitable!

My garage after an auction!

When a storage unit has been abandoned, the storage facility has no choice but to auction off all the contents of the unit to recoup costs.

Here are the basic steps to buying and making money off of an auction storage unit:

  1. Find auctions for storage units in your local newspaper’s classifieds or other local publications. Storage facilities are required by law to publish public announcements of upcoming auctions and it’s absolutely free for you to attend the auction!
  2. Arrive at the time the storage unit auction is set to take place. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to call before you arrive to confirm the auction is still taking place. **The person that owns the storage unit up for auction, has up to the time of the auction to bring the current overdue balance.
  3. The highest bidder will win the entire contents of the storage locker.  (NO MATTER WHAT IS INSIDE) When you win it, you will lock it up and pay CASH.
  4. You must pay cash at the auction. (sometimes on the spot.)
  5. Most of the time – You will have about 24 hours to vacate the entire contents of the unit, unless another deal can be made with the storage manger. If you need more time to remove the contents most of the time this results in you renting the unit.
  6. Make literally thousands of dollars off the contents of the unit! You may have just bought the contents of a millionaire’s home at a budget price.
  7. Repeat the process… You can literally earn $5,000 – $10,000 per month buy buying these storage units at auction.

*if you want more information about buying storage units, you can surf my blog for more tips making money buying storage units.

My garage after a storage unit auction!

42 thoughts on “How to buy storage units at auction

  1. Haha! I especially loved the photographic evidence! You sure do find some interesting items in storage units! 🙂


  2. Hey Scott, I have been considering getting in the storage locker auctions for some time now. Due to finances, I have been reluctant, as well as recent back surgery . I have the availability of man power, available to me, so I wont be doing any lifting , myself . My concern is, that I am wondering if I waited too long, as well as , is the competition too fierce ? I have a plan to sell on the internet , once I get started . Although , I have no idea how to get started, on the internet , can you shed some light on these inquiries for me ?

  3. Storage auction are always going to be there. The competition depends on what day you show up. Of course with the new TV shows it is going to bring more people out. However it is not really going to change the day to day availability of storage units, when you do decide to jump in and do an auction. Selling what you get out of the storage unit online is dependent how you want to sell it. For example, if you go to Ebay, you are looking at fees charged to you for using their services. If you create you own site you will need to be mindful of mailing cost and time.

  4. Hi Scott; I appreciate your site. Once you buy the unit, how do you go about getting stuff appraised or selling it? If you get it appraised is there a fee? thanks, Jim

  5. Most of the time you will find household goods and everyday run of the mill items, the TV show sets up these appraisers to establish a profit margin. Most of the time eBay and the web can establish worth of an item, or at the very least tell you what the item sold for recently. You are always going to find items you will feel might be valuable, how much you will end up selling it for is a totally different story.

  6. Hey Scott, I am fairly new to buying units, I have found a notice for an up coming storage auction that has a motorcycle collection in it. I have checked all the info on the bikes, but what is the paperwork process and how difficult is it to title?

  7. hey scott my name is ned im thinking about openingmy own thrift shop here in south florida and i would love to buy units at auctions,im new to all this wats the best way to get started

  8. Hey Scott, My name is Forrest. We are looking to start buying Storage units and. How do you go about finding someone to buy the contents? What happens if you do NOT clear it out after 24 hours? Can you give me a shout when you can?

  9. Selling the content is really the least of your problems. In just under a week – I had people calling me night and day for all this stuff. eBay, Craigslist, flea markets, all can get your contents moved in a matter of hours. If the contents of the storage unit are not removed, you will most likely lose your deposit, an they will rent the storage unit to you.

  10. I have a question as a potential buyer of items from an auctioned unit. Have you ever had issues with some items having liens on them? I’m looking at buying something that may not have been paid for in full by the person who put it in storage. Any comments?

  11. I don’t think anyone can lien the storage unit up-for auction, maybe a car or motorcycle that might be inside. Other than that, once you buy it, I think you would be free and clear.

  12. Will the storage facility or auction place give a person all the paperwork on how to take care of the liens if there are any on vehicles?

  13. hey scott, im going to my first auction this week and planning to buy a few units. I am only 17, is there an age requirement for bidding?

  14. any more tips or details i should know before i go? i want to go in with a good amount of knowledge so im not over bidding or anything

  15. Bought 4 units and opening my new store in Martin Ga, Hope to Sale a lot of stuff THANKS FOR THE IDEAS!!!!

  16. Scott,
    I saw on Storage Hunters that they like to do research on the person who rented the unit to see what kind of items may be in there. Do you know how to do this research? Thanks

  17. Hey Scott – A friend died recently and has a storage unit full of misc construction tools, miter saw, chop saw etc. Any idea how I can find someone to buy the whole unit contents? He asked me to help sell the items for his wife. Thanks

  18. I recently won a storage auction and found some old photos, Olympic medal, and someone’s extensive coin collection. I feel guilty, as I don’t think this unit was abandoned… maybe the owner is in the hospital or ??

    In any case, Is there a procedure to return these items?

  19. Contact the storage facility, they will return the items or you can ask for the owners contact info. OR!! Sometimes you can figure who owned the unit from the paperwork in the unit itself.

  20. Dear Scott, I have bought storage units for some time now. Auctions have been a fun hobby. I have just come across something a bit new! Stolen Item! I bought a unit that has a few stolen items. The Police Department here is wanting to sieze them as evidence. Isn’t my purchase of these items covered under the Uniform Commercial Code? Is there any records of this happening elsewhere? I can’t be the first case of this! Thank you for your help on this matter.

  21. Scott, This is a great site and very informative.
    Being new to storage units, my question is how do you know that the owners of the entire storage facility has not gone through the unit up for auction?

  22. Well the problem is that you don’t really know. I would say that most of the time this is not a problem, but I would say that now that the TV shows have come-out this is more of an issue.

    If a auction company is running the storage auction, they are cutting off the locks and adding a tag.

    And some storage auctions will cut off the lock at the time of the auction.

  23. Charles Scott says:
    November 1, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Dear Scott, I have bought storage units for some time now. Auctions have been a fun hobby. I have just come across something a bit new! Stolen Item! I bought a unit that has a few stolen items. The Police Department here is wanting to sieze them as evidence. Isn’t my purchase of these items covered under the Uniform Commercial Code? Is there any records of this happening elsewhere? I can’t be the first case of this! Thank you for your help on this matter.

  24. Hello,

    I have recently started to purchase storage units. I have many years of experience shopping/ buying at estate sales/yardsales/thrift shops and have a pretty good eye but I find this very different because you usually can’t see what you are buying.

    I was hoping for some help. I am trying to figure out some type of a business model for the storage units.
    I am doing it with a friend who is doing the manual labor (picking up , unloading the merchandise to our storage place)

    I am putting out all the money for the units and the storage unit.

    I am doing the majority of listing on ebay/craigslist… I am trying to push him into doing more/learning more.

    Anyone have any ideas how I should do the compensation? I really need to keep him engaged because I could not do it without him . he is good at the legwork but not such a motivated person when it comes to listing.

    I also have another friend who is a whirlwind at listing.Not sure how to go about compensation with her? Probably percentage based but then how do I handle that with my friend who is working to do the legwork. He should get a percentage of everything that sells too. I want everyone to work hard and make this work but I also need to make sure I am making some money.
    I can’t afford to pay salaries at this time so it needs to be some type of percentage compensation.

  25. I purchased a unit last week that had some rented equipment. One is a medical device for rehab, the other is a box for cable tv. What are my options with these?

    Charles Scott, I have now purchased two units. My first unit I found a gun and contacted the police, in the end it was taken because it was stolen! It’s an interesting story but I could have sold the gun for twice the amount I purchased the unit for! I’m sure it’s too late for me, but I would love to see an answer about the stolen items.

  26. You mentioned that a little under a $1000 is the best way to start with purchasing a unit at auction. Is it possible to attend an auction with less than $500 and have the possibility of purchasing a unit?

  27. I made payment arrangements on my units which I paid on time for 11 months they said I missed two payments so my stuff was up for auction. I tried to work something out with them even up to the morning of the auction. They said when looking at their records they found two years ago they did not receive a payment for 14 months and they would not take less than $2000.00 to keep from going to auction. OMG I did not have that kinda of money but did call someone that would put on their credit card too late suction started but not my unit. I had never been to an auction so I stayed to watch. There were people there that I knew that actually purchased my units for under $100.00. My questions are: can I contact them to explain the situation & ask to buy my stuff back? They were given a week to clean the units out. What are the guidelines? Will I be able to clean the units out myself if the ones that purchased them agree or will the owner of the storages guidelines not allow it? I did not know the people that purchaed them were into going to auctions & buying units till that day.

  28. I forgot to mention that I have been paying on these storage units for 10 years. Yea I know crazy but there was always something that kept from getting out mainly no where to go with it.

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