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Some people who bid at self-storage auctions are just curious about what treasures may be found behind those doors, while others are out to make a living.
For example, a lady at one of my auctions bought a unit up in Sacramento, and she paid $550 for the unit. I go by experience, but there are a lot of factors: size of unit, how full the unit is and the tidiness of the unit. My job as an auctioneer is to try to get back as much money as possible for the unit that I’m selling.
On the other end of the spectrum, we also have to get the buyers there who are going to buy the cheap units, the $5 and $10 units, the stuff that people have left behind, whether it be an old couch or an old washer and dryer that they just couldn’t fit on the truck. I have buyers who come to spend $3,000 to $5,000 on units, and buyers who are going to spend only $5 to $20 on a unit. Yes, a lot of the buyers are starting to profile some of the people who rented the units advertised in the paper. In your experience, what are the most common items found inside storage units that go up for auction?
If I sell 100 units in one week, 65 to 70 percent of the stuff is going to be, I call it, low-end units: stuff that’s going to sell for less than $100.
How many of the people attending storage auctions utilize them as a means of making a living by reselling contents?
With the latest craze with the “Storage Wars” phenomenon, we’ve seen more people show up at auctions. One of those $1 units may be someone’s headboard from their bedroom set that may be left behind in the unit, and it’s just pretty much scrap wood. I’ve had authors come out, artists, sculptors, people that I’ve met and never would have thought they’d come out to a storage auction, and it’s because of the shows that have brought auctions into the mainstream. On “Storage Wars,” some of the characters purchase units with valuable antiques and other rare items that make them a lot of money. Realistically, it’s probably only one out of 150 or so units that will hold a big treasure. I can tell you stories of some things I’ve sold in storage units that even I’ve been flabbergasted by, like I can’t believe I just sold a helicopter! And there was a unit we called the “White House” locker about three years ago that sold for $1,200. There’s a microSD card slot along the side, which means you can add extra storage space to the device. Mophie on Tuesday at CES 2014 unveiled a new battery case accessory that also offers extra storage for compatible models. There’s a new tendency towards mixed housing near recreational areas, according to Dave Benson, president of Morningstar Mini-Storage. Diverse housing developments near the lake include large and smaller homes as well as apartments and condos.
The company is developing a storage location within the year at Shoppes at the Landing, a 52-acre mixed-use project in Lake Wylie that will include a Publix grocery store.


The storage facility, however, “isn’t rows of garage doors and drive up units,” Benson told the source. Morningstar views itself more as a “neighborhood service” meaning the facility would likely resemble upscale office space within two or three-story buildings.
The facility should open in nine to 12 months and Benson is confident surrounding businesses will be pleased with the final product. Besides adding aesthetic and functional value to the town, the company hopes to be neighborly by extending its “Morningstar Cares” program in Lake Wylie. Founded in North Carolina in 1981, Morningstar Properties is a vertically integrated developer, operator and owner of real estate products focused primarily on self-storage and marinas in the Southeast. Whatever the reasons people bid, storage auctioneers are always happy to see them at their auctions.
I wanted to learn more, so I interviewed Jeff Gregory, owner of Nor Cal Storage Auctions, Inc. Now, I’m going to share our interview so you can gain a glimpse into the storage auction world from an auctioneer’s perspective, plus learn about some of the intriguing things found inside storage units that Jeff has sold.
It’s kind of like as a kid when you’re trick-or-treating, and you go to that one house where the person gives you that extra Snickers bar. A lot of times, these units don’t get sold if you don’t have the right people there to buy them. And it’s really good because one of the worst things to have happen at an auction is that you don’t sell all the units.
Some even go so far as to Google them or look them up on Facebook to try to figure out the history of this person and what happened.
And it’s the 30 percent of the units that are usually full and untouched by the renter that people can make a profit out of. And a unit that typically sold for $200 to $300, may now sell for anywhere from $400 to $600, so it’s almost doubled some of the better units. We might go for two or three weeks without seeing something that makes you go “wow,” then we’ll have three or four great units in a week. We cut locks with a witness and photograph the units from the door, but we never go inside and open up boxes and inventory the units. He paid $800 for it, and he told me the reason he bought it was because there was this old Italian racing bicycle from the 80s just like the one from the movie “Breaking Away.” There were also 60 boxes neatly stacked behind it. Thanks for sharing all of this with the blog readers, and I hope that you get to see lots of “wow” units in your future! The town of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, which surrounds a recreational lake a mere 20 miles from the bustling city of Charlotte, North Carolina, is one such area.
For those living in all but the largest homes, self storage becomes a likely necessity for the avid watersports-enthusiast. The company has acquired, developed and operated more than 136 self-storage projects across the country, totaling more than 8.9 million square feet. And it’s perhaps the storage auctioneers who understand what drives buyers more than anyone.


I’ve actually paid $1 for a unit so someone will grab it, but it’s well worth it for me to invest my dollar so the manager isn’t going to have to clean out the unit. For example, advertising in print media and on various media websites, Facebook and Twitter. We’ve found the most success in pinpointing qualified buyers and getting them there by focusing on location.
The manager of the property has to deal with the cleaning out of the unit if it’s not sold. The guy who owned the unit was in jail, but the guy who bought the unit discovered a safe with more than $28,000 in cash (old money dating back to the 1970s and 1980s), and a nice coin collection! After turning down a few offers for the lighter that were less than $100, he put it on eBay  and sold it to a collector for $12,850! In order to manage content stored on the Space Pack, users will be able to download from the App Store a free iOS companion application called Space. For those interested in storing a boat or car, the company will offer covered or screened parking additionally.
It currently owns and operates 37 self-storage centers in nine states, with most concentrated in the South.
Just like you see on television shows, auctioneers have regular buyers, and those buyers sometimes share what was inside those storage units they just bought. If you have someone who buys units in San Jose, they’re not going to drive two and a half hours to Santa Rosa to buy a unit.
There are so many people doing their own projects, and “Storage Wars” has really given them ideas to come out and get merchandise for their projects. All we can do is just look at the front of the unit and get an idea of the number of boxes and items we can see.
They may say, “It was horrible, just lot of junk,” because they don’t want me to know, or anyone else to know.
Additionally, the extra memory can also be managed via a regular Lightning connection to a computer. People think that maybe they can find one of those pictures, or some old jewelry, gold, diamonds or something else valuable inside a unit.
We do this visual inventory of the unit because under California law, you must advertise two weeks prior, the contents of the unit. This was years ago, and the guy who bought it sold it for $15,500 a few months after he bought it.



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