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How Do Storage Auctions work in South Africa?

February 02, 2021
Treasure hunting is always exciting, and uncovering long lost, forgotten gems in some abandoned self-storage unit is something that is certainly worth a load of excitement. Apart from a few casual bargain hunters, storage auctions are typically attended by semi-professional antique dealers and second-hand shop owners searching for collectibles, vintage or antique furnishings, and newer items in excellent condition. 
How a storage auction comes to be
There can be several reasons why a tenant may stop paying for their self-storage unit. Perhaps they can no longer afford to make the payments; maybe they make a long distance move suddenly and figure the cost of shipping their storage contents is more than the contents are worth. Regardless of the reason, the storage facility must make every effort to contact the tenants before auctioning their belongings. 

Once those efforts have been made, the storage facility will announce its auction. These announcements are usually made quickly, online or in print, as each day the contents take up space in the facility is another day the facility loses the rental income that a unit provides. Storage facilities typically move as quickly as they can when they are faced with an abandoned storage unit.

Where are storage auctions held in SA?
Storage auctions in SA are held in two ways. They occur at the actual storage facility, allowing you to view the abandoned unit in person (although you are not allowed inside the unit or allowed to touch anything inside of it). Alternatively, storage auctions take place online, allowing you to bid on units from the comfort of your living room, as well as bid on multiple units at different facilities at the same time. 

More facilities in SA are turning to online auctions than ever before. It is easier for the facility to promote and hold an auction quickly online, rather than having to arrange one onsite; and, additionally, they do not have to concern themselves with the weather. Online auctions are far more convenient for bidders as well.

While onsite auctions give you that in-person look at the contents, online auctions provide detailed pictures that provide a very similar amount of information: in either case, participants remain in the dark as to what the complete contents of the storage unit are. Only the one who wins the unit will uncover the treasures to be found inside.

Winning bidders
If you win a unit at a storage auction, you must be prepared to pay the amount and empty the unit quickly. Most storage facilities in South Africa allow winning bidders between 24 and 48 hours for the unit to be emptied. If you are not prepared to remove the contents of your unit, the facility will begin charging you rent, so always be prepared in this way.

Last minute tips
A great tip when searching for storage units to bid on is to follow the lead of the experts. Seasoned bidders, shop owners, and dealers always pay attention to the location of the facility holding the auction. The more upscale the neighbourhood or area, the greater the odds for more valuable treasures to be found.

Lastly, temper your expectations. The odds of you uncovering a Mona Lisa are very slim. Be realistic, and you’ll have loads of fun and excitement, while still uncovering some useful treasures.

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