Why Self Storage Facilities Sometimes Cancel Their Auctions

It’s happened plenty of times before, even though you’ve done everything right. You called ahead to all the storage companies in your area and got their list of upcoming auctions. You entered all the data into your calendar. You cleared your schedule. You secured the attendance of your nearest buddy with a sizable vehicle for helping you haul away the goods. You show up early to ensure nothing goes wrong, yet you find…no one there. No auction signs. No visible property manager giving an intro in the parking lot to a throng of anxious auction hunters. It got cancelled!As frustrating as this occurrence may be to eager bargain hunters, it is unfortunately a fact of this business that you will have to square yourself with sooner rather than later. Getting upset about the occasional cancelled self storage auction won’t make you any money or increase your skills – it will just raise your blood pressure. While the actuality of a scheduled self storage auction can’t always be guaranteed, you can keep your eyes out for a few warning signs that a cancellation is likely to occur:

Knowing the Auction Cancellation Warning Signs – #1 Number of Units

This is often your first and best clue as to the likelihood of any given self storage auction in your area falling through or not. When you first call up the facility to get the pertinent information about their procedures and the time and date, you should always ask how many delinquent units exactly are going up for sale. Now, keep in mind that sometimes a clever property manager won’t tell you this information, either because they’ve been told not to, or because they don’t know for certain because they haven’t yet run the pre-auction process with their co-workers, or maybe because they just don’t like the sound of your voice.

The point is, that if you can determine the number of delinquent units up on the chopping block, you can roughly figure out for yourself the likelihood of an auction cancellation. For one thing, you need to keep in mind that most of the time, tenants whose units are going to auction are not happy about it. They had something or somethings in their unit that they cared about enough to start renting the unit in the first place! Although it’s extremely common for a late paying tenant to start dodging all the property manager’s calls, e-mails, and texts as they fall further and further behind on their monthly payments, it’s also extremely common for most delinquent renters to freak out at the last notice of sale, or the last quippy little text that the frustrated manager sends them, saying “Your unit is being sold”.

Think what you would do in their situation if you had plenty of personal belongings tucked away in that box that was at risk of being thrown open to the squinty dollar-sign-covered eyes of a gaggle of strangers with buying power. You would beg, borrow and steal to come up with all the cash required, rush right over to the property manager and stuff it into their hands so that your things remain your things.

That’s exactly what about 25-40% of the seriously delinquent tenants do come auction time, in my personal experience. A facility could start off the week of the auction with 6 for-sale units and only have 3-4 come Saturday. Of course, this will vary and cannot be extrapolated with any certainty, but it’s something you need to be aware of as a buyer of delinquent storage lockers.

Now, why does the facility itself want to cancel the auction, even if they only have 2 units left to sell come game day? Because, oftentimes, they are paying the auctioneer and his crew a flat (and steep) rate to show up and get things going. If it costs $150 just to get the auctioneer to show, you can bet the storage company will want several larger units on hand so they have a better chance of recouping more money from the entire ordeal. Otherwise, they’ll usually notify their auctioneer more than 24 hours ahead of time so as to avoid tripping into the early-cancellation clause of most agreements – and paying anyway!

Minimizing the Damage and Frustration of Cancelled Auctions

If you know one of the sales you are waiting to attend has a decent chance of being cancelled, you can try to line up a few back-up sales that are scheduled for the same day.

If there’s nothing else in the same area that’s scheduled for a shaky-looking auction day, there’s no harm in trying to call up the property manager in the middle of the week and say you just wanted to check how many units were going to auction. If they say only 1-3, down from several because some of their delinquent clients cleared up their bills, you can start setting your sights elsewhere.