Bidding Tips & Strategies

If you’ve attended a few storage auctions and are interested in or have already begun purchasing units the following information will help to maximize your efficiency and profit potential, while helping to minimize losses.

Hopefully, you are becoming practiced in the areas of reviewing units and quickly assigning value to the visible contents. The single most-common mistake buyers make is paying too much for a unit. Many novice auction attendees will tend to get excited and emotionally invested in a unit during the frenzied bidding activity.

If a unit interests you, try to set a price in your mind based on what you can see and what potential your instinct tells you a unit may have. If you see $3,000 worth of items, perhaps you want to pick that unit up at no more than $1,500. Remember, you have to move and store all the items, spend time listing them, and then fulfill those orders. Couple that with time and gas spent going to the auctions and you can quickly find yourself in the red on a unit if you don’t account for these expenses.

Try to stick to the price points you’ve decided on when bidding and remember that you will be spending time and money to haul the contents away, clean the unit, store and inventory the items, and then hopefully sell them.

Some scenarios and tips to aid you in the bidding process are outlined below.

Other Patrons Running Up the Bid

A common occurrence at storage auctions is the presence of bidders who are not interested in obtaining a given unit but who place bids in an effort to make the successful buyer pay a larger sum. This is known as “running up the bid,” and it’s done for various reasons.

Some veterans will purposefully do this to discourage newcomers to the auction, others do this as a form of payback or simply because they want to maintain a competitive reputation at the auctions. Whatever the case, you will encounter this is if you start going to storage auctions, and if you bid regularly you should be equipped with some knowledge to help combat this behavior.

Often, when someone wants to run up the bid, they will do so on a unit that has more than two active bidders who show a great deal of interest in the unit. If bidding on a given unit were at the $300 level, and it was apparent that the unit may go for much more , you may see someone throw out a $500 bid (or higher) that is out of line with the current pace of the bidding. Then you may notice that person places no more bids or shows no interest in the unit.

You may find yourself in a one-on-one bidding war for a unit against someone who does not want the unit and is intent on maximizing the price you will pay for it. Our contributors submitted several accounts of situations where a bidder would have had a unit for a few hundred dollars but ended up paying thousands due to only one other bidder who was purposefully running up the bid.

If you’re up against a single bidder and feel that the bid is being run-up, there is an excellent strategy for mitigating the issue. You should project some visible doubt on the unit and the bidding prices, try to appear unsure of the unit by slowing down the bid or pretending to think about whether or not to place another bid. Usually the person running you up will drop-out immediately on the next bid or two for fear that they will actually win the unit. If the other bidder continues while you are acting this way, they are not running you up and really want the unit too.

Coming in Late to the Bid

An excellent tactic to help you score a unit you want is to come in late to the bidding process. This is especially useful for situations where several people have shown great interest in a unit and the bidding has been fast paced. The upside is that you will hopefully score a unit you really want. The downside is that you may pay a premium for it.

When bidders have started dropping out, and the auction appears to be coming to an end, one buyer will start to feel confident that he or she has made the bid. This is when you should jump in and start bidding with confidence. You want to appear as though you will continue bidding as long as the other person will.

The sudden introduction of a new bidder who appears so confident can often cause the last remaining patron to bow out. It’s a small blow to the stamina of some once they have entertained the thought that the locker is theirs.

Start with an Opening Bid

It’s common for an interested buyer to place an opening bid on a unit before the auctioneer decides on a starting price. Some buyers will privately let the auctioneer know that there has been an opening bid submitted on a unit. If it’s a unit that you know will be profitable for you, don’t be shy about giving the auctioneer a high opening bid. Often there will be no bidding from the crowd in such circumstances.

Raising Bid by Large Margin

You may be able to secure a unit you like by submitting large bid increases. If a unit is bidding around $300, and you think it will eventually go for well above $1,000 and will be profitable at that level, throw out a bid of $1,000. This projects money and confidence to the other bidders, who may all drop out immediately at the introduction of such a bid.

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