[ by Tiana Bodine, ]

When it comes to storage auctions, it pays to take the time to find the best opportunities in your area. Some self-storage facilities are more popular than others and will draw larger crowds, which means more competition and higher bids for units. This ultimately results in lower profit for you as a buyer. Instead, try to find the lesser-known auctions and attend those to maximize your profit.

Of course, this is easier said than done, as finding these auctions can be a challenge, particularly with Americans being exposed to storage auctions through TV shows like “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters.” Here are five ways to help you navigate the process.

1. Check Out Small Local Newspapers.
Ads for big auctions generally will be placed in major city papers, where advertising can be pretty expensive. However, papers in suburbs and small towns will carry more ads from smaller facilities and from those that balk at paying the price for ads in major newspapers. Because not as many people read these smaller-paper ads, you stand a better chance of attending a low-attendance auction.

2. Sign Up for an Auction Listing Service.
These services provide a comprehensive listing of storage auctions in your area in exchange for a small fee. The fee usually is worth the cost, as it will save you a lot of time in your hunt for auctions. Keep in mind that compared with a national service, a local listing lacks in-depth coverage and usually lists only auctions that are well-known and highly competitive.

3. Call Some of the Smaller Storage Facilities.
Sometimes it pays to just chat with facility owners to determine when a sale might be coming up. You also can check a facility’s website, which may list its auction schedule.

4. Network With Other Buyers.
See whether you can get a feel for which auctions other buyers are attending. If they’re professionals with lots of experience, they might be attending some of the best auctions. Of course, auction veterans also are less willing to share their experience with newcomers, so try this at your own risk.

5. Visit Auctioneers’ Websites.
Check the websites of auctioneers in your area to see whether auction schedules have been posted. Many auction hunters don’t think to search this way, which may give you an edge.

Overall, finding little-known auctions can be hit-or-miss, and a facility with no bidders one week might explode in popularity the next. Still, it pays to do a bit of research to see what you can find.

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