Storage Auctions

Whats the Point in Bidding Online if I Can be Outbid at the Live Auction?

Offline Travis

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AntiqueGal72 asked: Whats the Point in Bidding Online if I Can be Outbid at the Live Auction?

AntigueGal72, welcome to the forum.

Online storage auctions are greeted with more enthusiasm by some bidders than others. One hiccup in the virtual auction revolution occurs in those states where the legality of online auctions is ambiguous. While some sites offer online-only auctions in these states, they're operating outside the law and could get shut down by state officials.

The legal work-around for online auctions is to hold the auction online first, then open live auction bidding at the online auction's starting bid. Because both auctions will be advertised at the same time, it's safe to expect that most bidders will be aware of both auctions. At the end of the day, though, the winning bidder is the person who walks home with the unit and because online bidding ends an hour before the live auction, that winning bidder might be the person who shows up at the facility.

This can be a problem for hardcore bidders. On the one hand, you don't want to waste valuable time driving to a storage auction just to learn that you haven't been outbid. On the other hand, you don't want to spend a week following an online auction just to receive a notice that somebody else walked away with your unit.

Monitoring two auctions can be frustrating, and it requires you to prioritize your units and know your competition. If you're familiar with the local auction scene, you should have a good idea of who might be bidding online and who your in-person competition might be. This can help you determine how likely it will be that a particular unit will slip through your fingers.

You also may choose not to follow up in-person on units that aren't that important to you, but to show up to the live auctions of those whose lots you don't want to lose. If you happen to be outbid on a few units, you won't lose out too badly; bidding online enables you to attend more auctions than you otherwise would, so it evens out.

Of course, some auction-hunters may choose to attend all storage auctions in the area, whether they bid online first or not. If you arrive and discover that your winning online bid hasn't been outmatched, you can immediately begin cleaning out the unit; you'd need to arrive to pay and start working on it anyway, so you haven't lost too much of your time. The auction itself will probably go by quickly as most people will not spend too much time bidding on an auction with a high starting bid. The units that were listed online will be auctioned quickly, if anyone makes a bid at all, and you can get to work much faster than if no online auction had occurred.

In the long run, most states will probably revise their lien laws to enable online auctions to thrive without existing in the gray areas of the law. Until the laws catch up with technology, however, a few concessions must be made. Fortunately, the ease and convenience of online auctions makes up for the sometimes-clunky delivery system required by these work-arounds.

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