Sacramento Storage Auctions: Myths vs Reality
Updated: Sep 30, 2022
With the popularity of A&E’s reality show "Storage Wars," many people are familiar with the concept of storage auctions.
When a self-storage unit is considered to have been abandoned, the contents are usually put up for auction.
Sacramento storage auctions operate the same as just about anywhere else. If you’re unfamiliar with precisely what a storage auction is, or how auctions work, this post will give you some high-level information.
Incidentally, one of the lessons learned from "Storage Wars" is to not keep items that are of high sentimental or monetary value in a storage unit. This advice is independent of auctions.
For a variety of reasons, it is a bad idea to keep valuables in a self-storage unit.
What Is A Storage Auction?
Self-storage is a huge business in the United States. There are over 2 billion square feet of storage space in the U.S. — many times the combined area of all living spaces.
When someone rents a self-storage unit, they agree to pay a monthly fee in exchange for the use of the unit. Customers can pay month-to-month, or for several months (and even years) in advance.
Once a customer stops paying for a unit, the facility owner has the right to recoup their losses by lien sale. This is dictated by the California Business and Professions Code, Section 21700.
Storage auctions are open to the public. Anyone 18 years of age or older can place a bid for the contents of a storage unit. Auctions are cash only.
If you’re interested in attending a Sacramento storage auction, you can find listings and dates on sites such as Nor Cal Storage Auctions.
Storage auctions don’t work exactly as they do on television. The reality is a little bit different than what you might expect.
Common Storage Auction Myths
Due to the fact that a show like "Storage Wars" is edited for entertainment, several myths have crept into the public consciousness about how auctions work. Here are some common myths, along with the reality of how things work.
Storage Units Often Contain Valuable Items
While some storage units contain items worth thousands of dollars, most storage units typically contain items of low cash value. If you’re hunting for hidden treasure you’ve seen the bidders do on TV, you’ll be disappointed more often than not.
However, many regular auction attendees make money by reselling items worth several hundred dollars, either online or in their thrift stores.
You Don’t Know What’s Inside A Unit Before Bidding
While you will not be permitted to physically enter a storage unit before the auction begins, you will be able to look inside the unit first. The door to the unit will be opened before the bidding starts.
Everyone in attendance will be allowed to look inside. Experienced bidders usually have a flashlight to illuminate darker units or to peer under and in-between items in the unit.
Storage Facilities Remove Valuables Before Auctioning Units
Some people are under the impression that storage facility staff "cherry-pick" units for valuable items before auctions take place. This is not true.
Storage units remain locked and undisturbed until an auction takes place. No storage facility or auction staff enter units before the doors are opened to the public for the auction.
Storage Facilities Make A Lot Of Money From Auctions
This is a common misconception. Storage facilities do not often perform auctions themselves. In many cases, an outside auctioneer, such as Nor Cal Storage Auctions, is brought in when the contents of units need to be auctioned.
The only money that goes to a storage facility is the money owed for missed payments and any fees to host the auction.
You Have To Attend A Storage Auction In Person
The good news is that if you want to attend a Sacramento storage auction, you don’t always need to be present in person to make a bid. Many storage auctions now take place either partially or entirely online.
For online auctions, pictures of each unit or a video stream, are put online for bidders to see before placing bids on each unit. One of the advantages of bidding online is that you can use the internet to research items of interest in real time before deciding if you want to bid or not.
The Frequency of Storage Auctions
Here at GoldKey Storage, we have a low abandonment rate, which means that auctions are rare.
If an auction is necessary, we ask whomever the final bidder is to please return personal items such as photo albums, personal documents, and business documents to our office so that we can hold them for the original owner in case they return.