The Reality Behind Abandoned Storage Unit Auctions

Have you watched the storage auction reality shows and wondered if they are truly depicting ‘reality’? Are there treasures locked behind those steel doors that could turn a bidder into a rich man? John Cordoza, owner of Storage Auction Experts has been in the business for over 30 years. He has seen a little bit of everything during those years.

“It’s a gamble,” Cordoza admits. He auctioned off one unit in Vallejo, California to a high bid of $9,100. That’s a lot of money to gamble on a storage unit, but it paid off. An insurance appraisal of the total contents of art pieces, vintage comic books and a baseball card collection came in at 1.5 million dollars.

Those type of finds are the exception, however, and you never know where they’ll show up. Another unit that Cordoza auctioned that contained unexpected valuables was in a lower class area of Sacramento.

Misconceptions About Storage Unit Auctions

There are two misconceptions that people often have about abandoned storage unit auctions, according to Cordova. One is that the owners of the contents of the storage unit have ‘abandoned’ their possessions and are unaware that the contents of their storage unit is being put to auction. Units are auctioned off because of nonpayment of the storage fees. The storage facility is required by law to notify the tenants in a variety of ways prior to auctioning the contents to satisfy their rightful lien on the property.

The second misconception is that the storage facilities make a profit from these storage unit auctions. In California, the storage facility cannot collect more than the amount of the lien, their total losses due to the breach of contract by the tenant. The auctioneers receives a fee for their services, which is usually a percentage of the total bid amounts. Any funds from the bid that remain after the lien is satisfied and the auctioneer is paid, belong to the tenant who owned the contents.

The big question, of course, is can you make any money bidding on storage units? Cordova, says, “Yes,” but he qualifies it with an important statement: “You have to work hard and get your hands dirty doing it.” Cordova’s personal estimate is that about 6 out of 7 bids are profitable to some degree, while the seventh bid loses money.

The History Behind the Reality Shows

Prior to the reality shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, few people outside the industry even knew these auctions were taking place. Did you ever wonder where the idea came from to start doing television shows about storage unit auctions? John Cordova knows.

It was in 2009 that his company was contacted by ABC Nightline. They filmed and aired a short 6 minute segment with the Storage Auction Experts doing what they had been doing for years, leading auctions at storage facilities. Cordova got calls from six different television producers the next day. The race to see who could debut the first and best storage auction show was on.

“I have been on about five episodes of Auction Hunters,” Cordova shares. It’s obvious that he doesn’t consider himself a television star. He never set out to be. He’s an auctioneer, a good one. An ‘Expert.’

Kathleen Krueger

Kathleen is a full-time freelance writer and owner of Crafter of Words LLC. She specializes in providing high-quality blogs, website copy and email campaigns for businesses. She frequently writes on topics of interest to home owners such as remodeling, storage and moving.

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