There are a few important things to keep in mind when going to storage unit auctions. Always arrive early. When they allow everyone in and pop off the lock, make sure that you get up to the very front of the unit for an unobstructed view. Before the auction begins, the auctioneer will allow viewing of the unit for a very short period of time. You are not permitted to go inside the unit, or open any boxes. Make good use of your flashlight to look for items of value, and analyze their condition. Begin making a mental calculation of possible items of value. Move to other strategic locations at the doorway of the unit and get up on your tippy toes, or use a step stool to peek way back in the behind of the unit, or under large items such as furniture.
Try to work out, as well as you can, an estimated market value of the items you see inside of the unit. A good rule of thumb is to take the estimated retail price, and divide everything by half. ONLY make your calculations based on items that you can actually see. Add up everything, and this will give you a total unit value. In addition, you can add another ten percent to the estimated value if the unit happens to be full. Units that are almost empty tend to indicate that the unit has been previously picked over, and more than likely, any valuables that may have been in the unit have probably already been removed.
You should also calculate what it costs you in gas to and from the storage auction, and if you rented a truck to haul the items away, you need to figure this in as well. When you bid, bid with caution. In most cases, the bidding will take off quickly when the auction first begins, and then the bidding will tend to slow down as the auction progresses. Do not act too excited about a unit when bidding. Play with a poker face. Sometimes it’s best to sit back and let others bid first. If the bidding has begun to slow down, and the current bid has not yet reached the maximum amount you have determined that you want to spend on the unit, then jump in with your bid. If someone has outbid you, and you are still not at your top price, act a little hestitant before placing your next bid. Chances are that the others will start to wonder if the unit is worth the current bid. Your next bid just may very well end up being the winning bid. In the event that someone outbids you, and they exceed your top bidding price, back off and let it go. There will be other units to bid on and win. If you stick with this strategy, in most situations, you will walk away a winner. Even if you didn’t end up with the winning bid.