We all know the excitement a live storage auction brings, whether you've experienced it firsthand or are just under the Storage Wars spell that captivates us all each Tuesday night. But if making money gets you going don't shun sealed bid auctions just yet...they may prove more lucrative.
How does a sealed bid auction (aka silent auction) work? Just like it sounds. Everyone makes his or her bid by writing it on a piece of paper. So you don't have to worry about Dave Hester bidding you up, you just have to consider what your auction bully's writing on his piece of paper. The caveat? At some facilities sealed bids are collected throughout the week prior to the auction...without viewing the units. But usually, you actually make the rounds and preview all the units, you'll just jot down your bid and hand it over rather than shouting it out.
We're here to give you all the info you could possibly want to make informed bids. So here's what you need to know about silent auctions.
#1 Smaller Crowds
Silent auctions usually draw a smaller crowd. This means fewer competitors which could be good for unit prices. But the key here is the fact that the regulars might talk amongst themselves prior to bidding. If they take turns on the units, or agree to a maximum bid price, then they can keep their cost down. So in you walk...the new buyer...don't get sucked into their collusion! If they stick to their plan you'll have the upper hand and might be able to walk away with a unit for a really reasonable price.
#2 The Thrill Factor
A silent auction gives you a different thrill than a live auction does. If you can't preview the unit before you bid, then there's a heightened element of surprise. And if you get a great unit at a great price, then that's certainly a thrill. But there's clearly more risk involved if you're unable to preview the units before you bid, so buyer beware. What if the bids are taken ahead of time and then you end up winning multiple units you don't have space to store? Consider only bidding on one or two units. Or what if you end up with a dud that you are now responsible for cleaning? Keep your bids to amounts you're willing to lose. Clearly there's a lot of strategy, so if you love puzzles or can't walk past a Rubik's Cube without picking it up, then you'll love silent auctions.
#3 Lower Unit Prices
The best part about silent auctions is the prices. Auctioneer Chris Crepeau will tell you that "most regular bidders believe they can get units for much less at a silent auction." And again, plenty of strategy here too. Joe Ross, a seasoned auction hunter who regularly shares his tips on our Forum, suggests bidding in odd increments. Bid $151.09 instead of $150 in case someone else bids $150 because if you're "1 cent over the next highest bidder, then you are the winning bidder."
#4 The Bottom Line
Since you can generally get units for less, sealed bids can be a great way to profit from storage auctions. And if you're new to storage auctions, it's a great way to control the amount of money you're willing to put on the table (and keeps you from getting carried away during living bidding). Not only that, but if the units aren't previewed first, you'll be on equal footing with the buyers that have been sizing up units for years. Then, if you get a unit, analyze it from the door before you dig in. You'll learn a tremendous amount testing yourself this way.
That's the cold hard facts, it's up for you to judge whether sealed bids are right for you. But don't just dismiss them, they're definitely worth some consideration. Remember, the more you know, the better your bids, and the better your bids, the bigger your profits.
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P.S. Have you played the Guess the Unit Price yet?
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