How Online Storage Auctions Work: Your Guide to Great Deals

The tech-savvy way to win a storage unit auction!

There's no feeling quite like finding a good deal, and a storage auction is the best place to uncover hidden treasures. These auctions have grown in popularity thanks to fun reality TV shows such as Storage Wars. However, technology has made it easy for busy individuals to take part in the deals that online storage auctions provide.

What Are Online Storage Auctions?

An online storage auction is an auction involving delinquent self-storage units. Normally, renters fall behind on their payments or leave items behind, causing the delinquency. Each state requires a certain length of delinquent time before the unit can be auctioned, normally within 30-90 days.

Delinquent storage units are then auctioned off to the highest bidder to recoup rental fees the storage company has lost. All items are sold in bulk as the entire unit, not sold separately. With the bulk pricing of the units, your chances of making a profit are high, thus driving thousands of people to take part.

A photo of secondhand goods inside of a storage unit.
Jada Photo / Getty Images

Where to Find Online Storage Auctions Near You

To get started on your first online storage auction, you'll first want to find auctions located near you. To do that, there are a few methods to try. First, you can visit a few of the best online storage auction websites including:

  • LockerFox: LockerFox is an online storage auction platform that allows you to search for auctions near you by entering your zip code and a mileage range. Simply enter your zip code, sign-up for an account, and start bidding.
  • also allows you to search by your location or by using the "Auctions Near Me" tool. Get started by searching with your zip code. Then, sign-up for an account and find an auction to begin your bidding.
  • is yet another online storage auction website that gives you the option to search for auctions near you. You'll also need to sign-up before you start to bid.

You can also type "online storage auctions near me" into Google to see what the search engine suggests.

Make sure your location services are turned on when searching from any device. This makes it easier for you to find services and businesses located where you are.

How Do Online Storage Auctions Work?

Regardless of the website you choose for that first bid, online storage auctions are similar across the board. When you begin your search for the first time, you'll notice a few things about each unit listing right off the bat:

  • A selection of photos: Each listing will include a photo of the storage unit or perhaps even a few depending on the contents of the unit.

Keep in mind, storage units that are full will include contents you can't see. This is why it's important to read over the listing carefully before you bid.

  • A time limit: Each auction will only last a certain amount of time. This time limit varies depending on the website and the wishes of the storage company.
  • Description: Each unit will have a description of what seems to be included in the listing. The auction company or storage company will do its best to communicate an accurate representation of what's available.
  • Location: The location of the storage unit will always be listed with the company name. Some websites also include the storage company's hours so you can ensure pick-up.
  • Pick-up time limit: You only have a certain amount of time to clean out your storage unit. This will vary depending on the storage unit company and most are only 48-72 hours from purchase.
LockerFox's online storage auction

Some other things to keep an eye out for are a cleaning deposit, the unit's size, and the current bid amount. During the auction, bidders will place bids off and on until the auction ends and a winner is awarded the unit.

Bidding for the First Time

Ready to place your first bid? First, choose a website or platform to get started. Most websites, like those mentioned above, require you to sign-up prior to bidding. After you do that, you're ready to go.

When searching for a unit, make sure you double-check the location and the contents to ensure it's exactly what you're looking for; there's no going back once you purchase a storage unit. Once you find a unit you're satisfied with, you're ready to place your first bid.

Most auction bids are in increments each time, meaning you can't place a bid that's only $1 higher than the previous bid. Most websites require a minimum bid of $10. You can either stick around and bid manually, or you can choose to place a proxy bid, meaning you set a maximum bid and the system bids for you to keep you on top until it reaches your max. Setting a proxy bid allows you to carry on with your daily tasks without checking on the auction too often.

You'll continue to bid until you hit your maximum or until you win the unit. In the event of your win, you'll need to make the necessary arrangements to pick-up your items and pay for your unit. Most companies will require a cash payment at the facility, however, some will allow you to pay with a debit or credit card.

Make sure you pay for your unit in a timely manner. You'll risk forfeiting your unit if you don't pay on time.

Before you bid, make sure you can get to the location and pick your stuff up in the time allowed. If you live in California and win an auction in Texas, can you get there in time to clean it out? Most storage/auction companies will NOT ship the contents of a locker to you.

Before you visit the facility, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Call first: Call the facility to let them know when to expect you. Make sure you're there before the time limit is up.
  • Bring some tools: You'll want to bring trash bags, gloves, and other cleaning tools to help you move your items. Boxes are a great idea too!
  • Bring a truck or trailer: You'll have plenty of items to pack-up and take with you. Make sure you bring a truck or trailer with plenty of room.
  • Bring a lock: If you must leave and return at a later time, you'll need to lock your unit.

Online storage auctions are a great way to find some amazing deals without attending a physical auction. Here's to winning and happy bidding!

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