Kailua-Kona, HI (OPENPRESS) July 4, 2011 -- As reality television shows like "Storage Wars" and "Auction Hunters" showcase high-energy professional buyers profiting from storage auctions, self storage property managers all over the country are struggling to keep up with the surge in public interest. "I can remember one day when I got about 15 random phone calls back to back, within minutes of one another," recalls Zack Proser, a self storage manager based in Hawaii. "The funny thing was, none of these people were current tenants. They'd never even been to our facility before. They were all auction hunters wanting to know when we were holding our next sell-off of delinquent units!"
If this frenzy of public interest in self storage auctions seems puzzling to storage managers, it's because it is. "From a management perspective, these auctions are financial tools to recoup losses a company incurs when tenants fail to make their monthly payments," says Proser. "Not to mention, selling off someone else's belongings is the least pleasant part of the job." The sale of repossessed storage lockers is nothing new. State lien laws have long permitted storage companies to perfect liens on non-paying tenants' goods and auction them off in order to satisfy outstanding rental bills that are several months past due. Yet the new spate of storage auction reality shows may propagate certain expectations that put excited auction hunters at odds with the facilities they're inspired to seek out.
As far as most self storage companies are concerned, everything about the auction process is undesirable. For a unit or tenant to reach auction status, a property manager must have already made several consecutive months' worth of unsuccessful attempts to contact their late tenant via phone, e-mail, SMS text messages, snail mail and appeals to their family members. Meanwhile, the company itself must have endured several months of unpaid rent, making it more difficult to keep up with monthly expenses like payroll, utilities, maintenance, equipment, software fees and mortgage payments. "From where we stand, auctions involve a tremendous amount of work, irritation and tedious self-protection," explains Proser, referring to the number of applicable laws that managers must observe in order to avoid costly wrongful sale lawsuits. To top it off, the amount of money paid by a storage auction buyer rarely covers the amount of rent due.
Trying to keep tabs on the property, handle current tenant accounts and woo prospective customers down to the facility can be a lot juggle, so Proser eventually found the constant storage auction inquiries from non-customers to be a drain. "It got to the point where I realized I could actually save time by making a website all about storage auctions and then directing everyone that wanted to know about them to it," recalls Proser. "Within a few hours I had a functional site up that would answer most people's basic storage unit buying questions." But what started as a utilitarian venture born of annoyance soon developed into a work of passion. "I just kept adding different sections to the site. Auction lists, forums, and even a newsletter."
Today, Proser's creation, Storage Auctions Kings.com, is a full-fledged resource for storage auction buyers, property managers and the curious. It features in-depth articles explaining the storage auction process from start to finish and how professional auction buyers maximize their profits. It also offers free counsel to storage customers who are struggling with their monthly rental payments, giving them recommendations on how they can best avoid having their belongings sold-off. Mr. Proser is currently working to expand the site to offer more utility and assistance to other property managers and their companies. And the future of this unlikely site? "I've gone too far now," muses Proser. "I'm going to keep building it into the best possible resource and news magazine it can be."