Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The Nitty Gritty On Storage Auctions
Many people fantasize that the old bureau thats been catching dust in their attic for years is actually their ticket to early retirement. And with the popularity of television shows like Storage Wars, acquiring a rare gem for very little investment seems like a profitable gamble.
Whether youre interested in becoming a full-fledged "storage warrior" or just curious how storage auctions go down in the real world, here are some of the most common questions and tips from the pros to get you started.
1. Why are storage units contents auctioned? When a unit occupant fails to pay their rent for a period of time, the facility owner can auction off the contents in order to legally recoup their losses. Details vary by state, but generally protocol is across the board.
2. What if the tenant wants their stuff back after an auction? The original tenant may request to give their contact information to the unnamed buyer. The buyer can then decide to sell items back. Buyers are sometimes required to return unsellable personal items, like legal records and photographs, to the original owner.
3. Who can be at an auction? Bidders must be 18 years old with a valid drivers license or government-issued ID.
4. What is the auction process like? All potential bidders register. After some ground rules are laid out, the group will move to the first unit. When the first door is opened, bidders have a few minutes to look into the unit. No one can enter or touch any items for safety and liability concerns.
Pro Tip: Bring a flashlight You will be able to make a more informed bid. Cameras and recording devices are banned.
From there, the auction commences. Each unit and auction are opened and closed individually until all units are finished. Usually, this takes several hours, so remember to pace yourself.
Pro Tip: If you are not an experienced bidder, keep it simple by raising your hand. You dont want to miss out on a great unit because the auctioneer didnt notice you tugging on your ear.
5. What valuable items are commonly found in the storage units? Household items, appliances, furniture, tools, and electronics are the most useful common finds. The more obvious the valuable items -- such as cars -- the livelier the auction
Pro Tip: Units that are neatly organized are more likely to have valuable items than units with its contents haphazardly thrown in. But, as is the essence of storage auctions, junk can be organized, and treasures can be hidden. Experienced warriors say that bidding on what you see instead of what may be hidden will yield better results.
6. What happens when I win? When yours is declared the winning bid, you will be required to pay cash onsite immediately.
You will most likely be given 24-48 hours to clean out the unit in its entirety -- treasures, junk, trash and all.
Youll also pay a 50-100 cleaning deposit. This deposit will be returned after youve thoroughly removed all items and swept up. Adhere to this agreement, or youll be banned from future auctions.
Pro tip: Have a plan and bring some friends to help, especially if one of them has a truck and hauler. If you plan on coming back later, bring a padlock to secure your purchases.
7. How likely am I to make a profit? Storage units go anywhere from 1 to 10,000. Because of other bidders, weather conditions, and any number of factors -- including luck -- theres really no way to predict your profit. One of the most exciting aspects of storage auctions is that the playing field is completely even: the auction is free, and newbies and professionals get an equal look at the units ahead of time.
8. What do I do with the junk? The best way to make money through a storage auction is to sell as many items as possible. Craigslist, eBay, and garage sales are great. If you end up with a lot of one type of item, selling them in bulk to a flea market vendor could be economical.
Consider donating gently used items to homeless shelters, rehab facilities, churches, or other local charities. Remember to keep all of your receipts
9. Where can I find out about upcoming storage auctions? Keep a lookout for ads in your local paper, or do a web search for your area. Many sites are devoted to these schedules.
10. What other Pro Tips can you give on being a storage warrior? Decide what you are willing to spend and bring that amount with you in cash. Its good to set parameters when youre first starting out and can easily get caught up in the moment.
The auction will start on time, so check out the route beforehand and arrive early.
Dont invite your non-bidding companions to view the units. When there are too many extra people, the process gets held up. Move quickly and with purpose.
Questions are certainly welcome, but ask them before the auction begins. You will be held to your bid no matter what.
Greet the auctioneer and chat with fellow bidders before business starts. Being a part of the storage auction community can be the best part
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|Garret Stembridge is part of the team at www.extraspace.com, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about storage and organization topics for homes and for businesses.|Home Sellers - Four Dirty Jobs Youll Be Glad You Did
Bad smells are one the biggest deal-killers in real estate. If your home smells like pets, mold, smoke or pheromones, youll repulse buyers. If your home sells at all, it will go for less than its worth.
Its time to do a dirty job -- identify sources of stinks and deep clean your home.
Since youre living with it, you may be oblivious to your homes smells. Ask your real estate agent to walk with you through your home and not hold back. You need to hear the brutal truth. Does the carpet smell like a puddle-loving dog? Is there moldy smell in your bathroom?
Youll be glad to know that every smell has a simple cure -- better maintenance. When your house is on the market, you cant let things slide as you normally do. You have to be vigilant for odors and keep your place super-clean every day.
Pets: Pets leave fur, slobber, and loose dirt wherever they go. Some dog breeds, like retrievers, are stinkier than others. If Rover sleeps on his own bed, wash it or replace it with fresh bedding. Dont let your dog get ripe; bathe your dog more frequently than you normally would. Chairs and carpets should be steam-cleaned. If you can, remove pet beds, cat boxes and other signs of pet life during showings.
Mold: It takes a combination of standing water, dark closed-in places and absorbent materials to create mold. If you smell a musty, underground kind of odor, youve probably got a water leak somewhere. If you havent cleaned your pipes in a while, get busy with some industrial strength Drano. Recaulk tubs and sinks. Replace old discolored faucets and shower heads. If that doesnt help, hire a plumber to help you find the source.
Smoke: Nothing will drive 80 percent of your buyers out of your house faster than stale cigarette smoke. Stop smoking in the house. Repaint every wall. Strip and rewax floors. Yes, smoke permeates everything. Everything. Steam-clean all carpets, draperies, curtains, and upholstered furniture. You may even want to move out and let your real estate agent stage your home with fresh showroom furnishings. Its extreme, but so is the reaction of non-smoking buyers.
Pheromones: We humans stink. No deodorant and skipping showers may work for some people, but buyers dont want to smell you and your pheromones, especially if youre not home. Athletic gear, dirty clothes, unwashed sheets and towels, and old pillows and bedding are just a few things that can store body odor. The cure is easy -- bathe more often and dont let laundry build up. Change sheets often, no less than weekly.
We shouldnt have to say this, but there are personal discards that should never be found by buyers, like your "love" towel. Believe it or not, buyers open trashcans. Your agent has probably seen it all - used condoms and feminine hygiene products, band-aids, balled-up Kleenexes, pregnancy tests, and so on. In other words, if it has bodily fluids on it, get it out of the house before your next showing.
If you thought this article was on the raw side, its only because we know how it is out there. Your real estate agent has seen it all, too, and can tell you that every word is true.
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Why You Should Consider Challenging Your Property Tax Assessment
You may well be paying too much in property taxes.
Your city, school district and county property taxes are supposed to be based on current market values. When you buy a home, the tax base resets at the value you paid, whether its higher or lower than the previous owners tax bill.
Local laws put a cap on how much property taxes can be raised each year, regardless of market values. Most municipalities dont have the manpower or the resources to assess each and every property individually, so taxes can be assessed based on general averages, drive-by appraisals or automatic increases based on your homes sales price.
Many areas dont assess annually, so your homes values can be overvalued in a cool market or undervalued in a hot market. Which means you could be paying too much in property taxes.
You may recieve your property value assessement and tax bill soon. If you dont think the assessment is fair, its your right to appeal.
The appeal process doesnt have to be intimidating. The appraisers and appeal boards are well aware that the appraisal system isnt perfect, so they are prepared for challenges.
Depending upon your municipalitys appeals process, you can represent yourself. You dont need your CPA, attorney or real estate professional. All you need to do is simply make an appointment for a review of your property. Call early, as the time for appeal appointments is usually limited to a specific time frame.
Print out a full copy of your propertys tax appraisal from your city/county website. Check it over carefully for errors in square footage, number of bedrooms, baths, stories, parking spaces, lot size, and other details. Your neighbors appraisals will also be accessible as public information so you can double check their assesssments to find comparisons. Be sure the comparable homes that you find are very close by and as identical as possible to your home in size and amenities.
Take pictures of your exterior and be sure to include anything that can lower the value of the property such as a busy street, telephone poles, looming water towers, peeling paint, sagging roof, etc. In the interior, photograph dated kitchens or baths, and any damage to floors, windows, walls and ceilings. Condition matters in appraisals.
City appraisers use the same Multiple Listing Service that real estate professionals do, so if you know an agent or broker who can get recent comparables for you, bring those to the appraisal appointment. Some agents may charge a fee for this service, but if youve been a client, they may be willing to print a comparable analysis at no charge for you.
During your appointment, youll be meeting with an individual appraiser or perhaps an appraisal board comprised of volunteers, real estate professionals, appraisers, or city officials.
Dont be intimidated -- youre not on trial. Its a hearing that youve requested.
Your appraiser will show you the values of nearby comparable homes to illustrate why the district arrived at your appraisal price. Bring a map so you can illustrate zoning changes, construction, road expansion that may affect the areas value, as well as your home. Courteously present your case and documentation that supports your claim. Just in case, bring a map so you can illustrate zoning changes, construction, road expansion that may affect the areas value, as well as your home.
Your data will be compared with the findings of the reviewer. You may need to defend your appraisal several times throughout the appeal, so know your neighborhood well.
Usually, the answer will be immediate. If the tax assessor agrees with you, he or she will adjust your appraisal right on screen right in front of you and print out a new assessment for you to take home.
If the assessment stands as it is, you havent lost anything but a little time.
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