Secrets to Becoming an Auction Hunter

What exactly is an auction hunter? And most importantly, how can we become one? We wanted to get the inside scoop on the subject so we found an industry leader who could share his secrets with us.

John Cardoza, Owner of Storage Auction Experts (CAI BAS, CES, CAGA Auctioneer) started his career as an auctioneer by graduating from the Missouri Auction School in 1984.

Cardoza has conducted thousands of auctions including Storage, Abandonment, Estate, Bankruptcy, and more. He also lived on Princess, Norwegian, and Crystal Cruise Lines conducting art auctions–and to top it all off, Cardoza has been on five episodes of the hit reality TV show, “Auction Hunters.”

To kick things off, we asked him about some of the basics of auctions. For example, how do we find a great auction?

“Auction buyers find auctions by contacting auctioneers, their website or the storage facilities. They can also look up on Auction Zip which is a free auction finder site,” says Cardoza.

But before you head to the auction you’ve picked, Cardoza says that it’s a good idea to contact the auction company or storage facility to make sure the auction is still scheduled and ask what the preferred form of payment is for that auction. Most likely it will be cash so be ready to bring some along.

Being Prepared: Tips for Auction Hunters

“Going to an auction is like playing poker. Some people bid high to keep others from thinking they have a chance at getting the unit. Some bidders act like they are not interested in the unit at all until the auctioneer is about to sell the unit then they start bidding. Some buyers will research on the internet names they see in the newspaper to see what they can learn about them to help them decide what might be in some of the boxes in the units,” explains Cardoza.

  • Make sure to bring a lock and flashlight to the auction.
  • When bidding on a storage unit, make sure you have enough money to pay for the unit, the sales tax, and deposit.
  • Don’t touch anything or go into the unit unless you have permission from the auctioneer.
  • If you are interested in a unit, make eye contact with the auctioneer so he or she won’t miss your bid.

And to become an expert auctioneer, Cardoza says you have to do your homework.

“Buyers become experts by reading all they can about auctions. They go to flea markets to find out what is selling and how much things sell for. They also look at storage auction websites, which usually give a lot of tips to follow. One thing every expert buyer should learn about is recycling,” says Cardoza.

The Thrill of The Auction

When it’s time to head to the auction, be prepared for a fun ride. Cardoza says that the mood swings all directions at a storage auction.

“It is formed by the weather, number of auction attendees, number of units, how good or bad the units are, the manager of the storage facility and the auctioneer conducting the auction…Personally, after reading all the rules, I like to tell the buyers ‘let’s go have some fun!’”

Cardoza also explains that most storage auctions conducted today include the complete unit being sold in one lot. Cardoza says that as a buyer, you must use your own judgment on what the item is and the potential worth of the items in the unit.

Lastly, we asked Cardoza about the reality of storage auction TV shows and here’s what he tells us.

“The buyers on the TV Show “Auction Hunters,” Ton Jones, Allen Haff and Caroline are all real buyers. Before each show, there is a statement saying these units are stories of some of their most rare and valuable discoveries. They end up filming a lot of hours and do a lot of editing to come up with each half hour episode,” says Cardoza.

June Brockmeyer

June Brockmeyer

June Brockmeyer is a writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. Her background includes TV news writing and reporting, weather forecasting as well as blogging; specifically for small businesses, software, education and lifestyle. June is fluent in Spanish and has experience in translation, writing and tutoring. Having moved back and forth from the U.S. to Mexico a few times, June enjoys researching new options for storage solutions and moving. She is a fan of organization and celebrates new ideas to help stay clutter-free in her everyday life. She graduated Cum Laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and loves to spend time with her husband, baby boy and their cute Havaneese dog, Reef.
June Brockmeyer

Latest posts by June Brockmeyer (see all)