Thanks mostly to reality TV shows like “Storage Wars” and “Storage Hunters,” millions of Americans have been swarming auctions at self-storage facilities in hopes of unearthing treasures. But data compiled by SpareFoot shows that storage auctions are more popular in certain parts of the U.S. than others.

To come up with our list of America’s Top 20 Cities for Storage Auctions, we matched U.S. Census Bureau population data with data from StorageUnitAuctionList.com regarding the number of storage auctions that were advertised in more than 800 U.S. cities in 2013. We then ranked the cities—with populations of at least 50,000—by the number of storage auctions per capita.

To learn more about storage auctions, visit blog.sparefoot.com/7024-guide-to-storage-auctions.

Marietta Madness

Topping the list was Marietta, GA, an Atlanta suburb with a population of 58,356. In 2013, Marietta hosted 346 self-storage auctions that were listed on StorageUnitAuctionList.com, resulting in a nation-leading rate of 0.00593 auctions per capita.

“This is quite fascinating,” said Anne Ballard, president of the Georgia Self Storage Association and president of training, marketing and developmental services at Atlanta, GA-based Universal Storage Group. “But in a way I’m not entirely surprised. I think there are a few things at play here.”

According to Ballard, Marietta has a high population density, combined with a high density of storage facilities that have been in business for a while. That means there’s more demand for storage units, and the property of delinquent tenants—who are the sole motivation for storage auctions—is sold off to pay the overdue rent and make way for new tenants.

“If there wasn’t so much demand, owners and operators could take a little more time getting rid of people who are not paying,” Ballard said. “But when the demand is high, they can’t do that. They need to process the deadbeats out as quickly as possible.”

Secondly, Ballard said, the Georgia Self Storage Association helped pass a state law allowing self-storage operators to use email to notify delinquent tenants about impending auctions, known in the self-storage business as lien sales.

“Before that, everything had to go through certified snail mail, and that was expensive and tedious,” Ballard said. “The new process has cut operating costs and made it much easier to have lien sales. And when it’s not so cumbersome, you can have more of them in a shorter period of time.”

Storage Wars in Florida

Self-storage auctions also are incredibly popular in Florida. Cities in the Sunshine State occupy 12 of the top 20 slots on SpareFoot’s list of America’s Top 20 Cities for Storage Auctions.

Scott Kelly, vice president of the Florida Self Storage Association and a management consultant for Madeira Beach, FL-based Synergy Storage Group, said two factors are behind Florida’s prominence on the list.

First of all, he said, the lien process in Florida can begin once rent is 30 days past due, and the process usually is completed within 60 days. Meanwhile, many other states won’t let self-storage facilities begin the lien process until rent is 60 days past due.

Secondly, Kelly said, Florida could be considered a “mecca for self-storage,” with a higher density of operators and a greater demand than most other states.

“The high demand per capita can be explained by climactic and topographic reasons,” Kelly said.

For instance, he said, high sea levels don’t allow for basement storage, and high humidity reduces the ability to store stuff in sheds or attics. As a result, Kelly said, “the-per-square-foot demand factor for Floridians is quite high.”

Storage Auction Capitals

Here is SpareFoot’s list of America’s Top 20 Cities for Storage Auctions.

1. Marietta, GA

Population (2013): 58,356
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 346
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00593

2. Pensacola, FL

Population (2013): 52,367
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 293
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00560

3. Ocala, FL

Population (2013): 57,104
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 299
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00524

4. Sarasota, FL

Population (2013): 52,888
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 254
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00480

5. Fort Myers, FL

Population (2013): 65,911
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 315
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00478

6. Bradenton, FL

Population (2013): 50,744
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 195
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00384

7. Orlando, FL

Population (2013): 249,774
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 891
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00357

8. Spring, TX

Population (2013): 58,321
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 177
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00303

9. West Palm Beach, FL

Population (2013): 101,715
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 297
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00292

10. Columbia, SC

Population (2013): 131,949
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 365
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00277

11. Smyrna, GA

Population (2013): 52,699
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 132
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00250

12. Pompano Beach, FL

Population (2013): 103,040
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 251
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00244

13. Las Vegas, NV

Population (2013): 595,906
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 1,407
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00236

14. Daytona Beach, FL

Population (2013): 61,755
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 141
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00228

15. Lakeland, FL

Population (2013): 99,843
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 217
Storage auctions per capita advertised (2013): 0.00217

16. Miami, FL

Population (2013): 414,144
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 892
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00215

17. Frederick, MD

Population (2013): 66,427
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 141
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00212

18. Kissimmee, FL

Population (2013): 63,317
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 133
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00210

19. Greenville, SC

Population (2013): 60,697
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 127
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00209

20. Gardena, CA

Population (2013): 59,568
Number of storage auctions advertised (2013): 123
Storage auctions per capita (2013): 0.00206

Data analysis by Elizabeth Whalen
Data sources: StorageUnitAuctionList.com, U.S. Census Bureau

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Nick DiUlio