As if you didn't already have enough to evaluate in the minute or two before the bidding starts, here's a few more things to think about as that storage door rolls open.
What is the crowd doing?
#1 Silence is the best sign. A hush seems to roll over the crowd when a good unit is exposed.
#2 A lot of chatter might mean low interest in the unit - but be strategic! Do you go for the obviously good unit that will be bid up? Or, do you bet $20 on a unit that might be a pile of nothing but could have something really great inside? Learn from your fellow bidders!
Do you want a big crowd or a small group of bidders?
#1 A large crowd may mean higher prices. Or people might just be checking it out because they saw storage auctions on the tube. If this is the case, the first couple units might have the cheapest prices, while all the new bidders are observing, so be prepared to bid. You can also ask the facility manager whether the crowd contains a lot of new faces or is the cast of seasoned vets.
#2 A small circle of bidders might be a good sign but beware of cliques! Hester's tactics on Storage Wars are real life bidding strategies - don't become the victim of the storage auction bully trying to make you lose all your dough on one unit in order to take the new bidder out of the equation.
Do you see indicators of the quality of the unit?
#1 Always look for a unit with "owner's pride." Does it look like the tenant took care of their things? If the couch is torn to shreds then there might not be anything of quality inside the boxes. But if the owner carefully packed, labled, and stored their things in such a way as to preserve them, you may have a very profitable unit in front of you.
#2 What you see is what you get. If the only exposed table leg shows teeth marks then chances are you'll be repairing not one but four legs. This is likely a sign of the condition of the rest of the unit too.
#3 Climate controlled units are usually an accurate indicator of quality. First, this suggests the items are sensitive to the elements ... items such as expensive furniture, artwork, and musical instruments just to name a few. Second, the owners care about the condition of their stored items suggesting quality contents. Third, these units are often more expensive to rent, again indicating value.
Remember to keep your eyes open on Auction Day!
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Here are a few links you might find useful:
Professional Self Storage Auction Tips
How To Locate A Storage Auction
Self Storage Units Containing Cars