The storage unit auction shows on television have altered the storage auction business permanently. There are shows like Storage Wars, Auction Hunters, and Storage Hunters have ignited a storage unit auction fever that borders on the ridiculous. The pricing of these units has skyrocketed. Is that price rise justified? I contend that it is not.
I owned a storage unit complex in the 1980′s, and have kept up with it since. It is in an oil town that was devastated by the oil price fall, and the resulting banking crisis. When the economy was good, the delinquency rates were 3 to 5 percent, of the number of units rented –and most people paid up when they got the legal notices, of an impending auction of their goods. When the economy fell the number of delinquencies went up to 30 to 40 percent, and most people did not pay up when they were notified of an impending unit sale, and the units went to auction.
The 1980′s auction prices were the around $25 to $200 dollars. Fast forward to 3 years ago, at the same units the auction prices were $100 to $600, this compares to the normal price rise due to inflation. When polled, most of purchasers reported that the auctioned goods were worth about what the units brought.
June 4, 2011 there was an auction of 7 units at that same storage complex. The prices of the auctioned units were $350 to $3700. The informal poll of the purchasers indicated great anticipation prior to unloading the units, and great disappointment when the units were actually cleared out. The majority of the unit purchasers were novices who had seen one of the storage unit auction shows and were deluded into thinking that big rewards were normal.
If you are going to get into the storage unit auction business, you need to remember that all items in these units are sold as-is, untested, and mostly under viewed. Large payouts are getting rarer due to the dramatic price rise resulting from the viewers of these shows being given a distorted view of the normal outcome of these auction transactions. For that reason I contend that these shows have altered the storage auction business in a permanent way.