Score Big Bucks at Storage Unit Auctions

Here on the Penny Hoarder, we’ve talked about ways you can make serious loot from buying abandoned luggage and how you can use online auctions to sell off unwanted items at great prices. With all this auction talk, I was inspired to investigate some additional ways that auctions can help you bring in the Benjamins. Here is what I came up with in terms of scoring big bucks at storage unit auctions:

Attend Your Own Version of Storage Wars

Each year, millions of items are dumped into storage facilities and forgotten or abandoned. If you’ve ever seen the A&E show, Storage Wars, you know that a seasoned veteran of the storage unit auction scene can easily rake in tends of thousands of dollars from the purchase of one unit. Then again, they can also lose big if the unit turns out to be a dud. What intrigues me most about this is the gamble and thrill of the chase–basically, if you’ve done your homework and have a bit of investment capital that you can risk losing, you might be the very next Jarrod and Brandi.

Do Your Research

If you’re interested in this type of auction, reach out to your local storage facilities and ask to be notified of when the next auction will take place. You should also keep an eye on the local papers for any announcements of auctions. When it comes time to attend the auction, arrive early and scope out the scene in detail. Most places will not allow you to touch any of the items and may have a limit to how many minutes you can visually inspect unit, but there are places that will allow you to look around for as long as you wish provided you don’t touch anything.

Estimate and Set a Max

During some auctions, the organizer might open the boxes inside the unit so you can see the contents. During this time, do your best to estimate the price of the items and set your maximum bid at no more than 50% of the perceived value. Be strong in your resolve–this is not the time to go crazy with bidding and then end up destroying your budget! A quick warning before you cash out your mutual fund account – expect to make a lot less than the stars on Storage Wars. The show has an entire production team that makes it seem like you can get rich on every unit, but in reality it’s a much tougher business.

Get Ready to Clean!

After you buy the items, be prepared to sort the items, clean them, repair anything that’s broken and haul off plenty of junk. For items that have significant value, you can re-sell them to individuals directly by placing a newspaper or Craigslist ad (verify the item’s value by having an expert look it over). Pawn shops, flea markets and even garage sales are great ways to sell of the remaining items. You could even opt to hold your own online auction. The sky’s the limit on your options for selling if you’re creative, smart and savvy.

Good Luck, Penny Hoarders!