Your Questions About Storage Auctions Answered

Self-storage is quite popular in today’s era and will continue to grow in the future. You may not know, but almost 40% of Americans use self-storage. People need it when they don’t have enough space to store their belongings or are undergoing transitions like moving.

Whether you are a business owner, homeowner, renter, or military member, self-storage helps you declutter and keep organized. Finding a suitable unit can be easy if you plan to look for short- or long-term storage solutions.

Sometimes people forget they even have a storage unit or don’t pay rent on time. When this happens, the facility has a problem: an unrentable space. A storage company will hold a storage auction if the company cannot contact the renter within the agreed upon timeframe.

What Is a Storage Auction?

You’re already acquainted with self-storage, but do you know what a storage auction is? A storage auction is held when someone abandons their unit or it goes into a lien, and the storage companies want to reclaim their financial losses by auctioning it off to the public.

People love to go to storage auctions because they can find treasures.

Even though the process can be costly and time-consuming, this is the best choice for storage companies to compensate for their financial losses. Of course, they will receive only some of the profits back, but it will prevent them from being in the red.

There are many storage auctions held annually in the United States: approximately 80,000. Depending on where you live, you may find one nearby.

Related: 34 Best Things To Sell To Make Money

How Does it Work?

When a storage company cannot contact the renter on an unpaid unit, they consider it abandoned or gone into a lien. The next phase is to schedule an auction, advertise it, and bring in the auctioneer. Finally, the storage company auctions off the units on the event day, and the highest bidder gets it.

Storage auctions are extremely popular, thanks to reality TV shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters.

Registration Process

Before attending the storage auction, participants will likely have to pre-register. You may sign up online at the facility before or on the day of the event, or contact the facility to learn more.

When Can a Storage Unit Be Auctioned Off?

Before the storage auction even happens, the storage facility gives the tenant a grace period of 30 to 90 days to pay any past dues. If the tenant pays the balance, the storage company will not auction off the storage unit. However, if they fail to do so, the storage facility has the right to auction off the unit.

The Bidding Process

Before any bidding begins, the storage units will open for the participants to briefly look inside the unit. The unit will close after every participant has a chance to see inside the space.

Due to the time limit, you may struggle to look through everything. Searching through the boxes before bidding is prohibited and considered trespassing. You really only get a peak.

When this happens, take notes on the items you saw to decide what you will bid on later. You should also note that winning bids can vary from less than $100 to nearly $1000.

Auction Rules

If this is your first auction at a storage facility, familiarize yourself with the rules before participating.

Common rules include:

  • Bidders are bidding on the contents of the entire storage unit, not on an item-to-item basis
  • The highest bidder will get the unit
  • The winning bidder must pay in cash upon winning (depending on the facility)
  • A deposit may be required until you clean out the unit
  • The winning bidder is usually given 24 to 48 hours to clean the unit or rent it under their name
  • The buyer must return all personal items of the previous renter, like photos, legal documents, or tax records, to the facility so they can return them to the previous tenant
  • You must turn firearms over to local law enforcement if firearms are in the storage unit
  • Units are won and paid for immediately, meaning if you are the top bidder, you must pay the balance immediately

Who Can Participate in a Storage Auction?

You can participate in the auction if you are 18 years old and can provide legal identification. Most of the time, your local auction may be swarming with bidding veterans. However, you may find unique individuals like online sellers, collectors, or treasure hunters because anyone can participate in the auction as long as they are of age.

After the Auction

If you become the winning bidder, it might take a long time for you to clean out all the possessions. You should have your own storage space, whether that’s your garage or paying for the storage unit itself. You might also need help, so asking a family or friend to help you can cut your time in half.

Related: How to Make Your Garage Sale More Successful

Places to Find Storage Auctions

Storage Treasures

Storage Treasures is a prominent storage auction website to help you bid online and find nearby storage auctions. In addition, it is a free social site to find onsite or online storage auctions across the United States and Canada.

Storage Auctions

Storage Auctions is an online storage auction that allows customers and buyers to purchase and bid on. This platform enables you to find storage auctions near you and bid confidently. In addition, storage facilities can list their inventory for live and online auctions for those to see.

Locker Fox

Locker Fox is a premium online platform for the storage auction experience. By bidding online, you can save time driving and get more chances to turn your wins into cash. It is a user-friendly platform where you can easily find and bid on storage auctions near you. When you win a bid, you’ll be responsible for cleaning out the unit, be charged a 10% buyer premium, and pay cash at the facility for your high bid.

Cube Smart

Cube Smart is a site where you can find storage auctions throughout the country. If you want to attend one, you need to look for your state and see what auctions are available in your area.


Bid13 is an online storage auction that allows you to find auctions for storage units across the United States. The site has a paid membership option of $5 per month and a $1 bid fee. However, if you win the auction, the fee is waived.


What happens to the storage unit if the renter passes away?

If the renter passes away, the storage company will contact their loved ones to see if they want to pay the rent or clean it out. If the company gets no answer, the unit will go up for auction.

Does the storage company keep the total profit from the auction?

No, the companies usually keep around 50% of the winning bid since they have to pay advertisers and services of the auctioneer.

What things do you usually find at a storage auction?

That depends! You can find treasure or nothing but junk. In most cases, you can find valuable items like jewelry, art, collectibles, and even cars.

Does the storage company remove any valuables before the auction?

No, they do not since the auction is their last resort.

How does an online auction work?

Most auction websites want you to create an account so that you can participate. Then you can search the list to see which unit you wish to bid on.

How often does storage auction occur?

Depending on your area, there can be a few to multiple storage auctions almost every day of the week. For example, a storage auction near me may have two but there may be 6 where you live. On average, storage facilities sell between 3 to 6 storage units at a time.

Do you need a special license or permit to attend the auction?

You do not need any license or permits to attend the auctions. You only need your valid state identification.


If there are storage auctions in your area, remember that every auction is a different experience. You may find valuable items or junk.

If this is your first time attending a storage auction, bring a friend to experience it. You can win as the highest bidder!

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This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

Cindy @ The Money Dreamer

After designing for so long, I wanted to have more purpose in life than designing 24/7. I decided to learn how to save, budget, and invest to gain financial freedom to do things that I love. I created this blog to help and inspire those who needed it the most.

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