As a real estate agent, one of the questions either your buyer or seller clients are bound to ask you is what you know about local self-storage units. Renting a temporary storage unit has become commonplace for many folks when moving. When you are the local go-to expert for all things real estate, you should have at least a basic understanding of how these storage facilities work.
Many homesellers are going to want their homes to look their best before they hit the market. Tidying up a home starts by removing excess junk, furniture and other items that make it harder for buyers to form a true picture of the property. Renting a storage unit provides that opportunity for them. It’s a great use of money that could put thousands of more dollars into your seller’s hands.
However, there is a good chance that your clients may have never rented from a storage facility before. This is where you can come in and save the day — just another feather in your cap for the multitude of things you do every day for them.
Without guidance, lots of your clients are just going to do an online search for something like “cheap storage units near me.” Everyone wants the best deal. Unfortunately, doing an online search for the lowest-priced storage facility isn’t necessarily going to give you the best experience. With something so vital, it isn’t worth chancing over a few bucks.
Obviously, your clients shouldn’t just rent any storage unit. They should shop around and find one that matches all the things they need. Just like giving guidance on a portable storage unit, you can be their guiding light on self-storage facilities as well. To help them find the perfect unit, here are a few questions your clients should ask.
1. When can you access the unit?
One of the things that may be essential for your clients is the ability to have 24-hour access to their units. If your sellers work odd hours, they may need to get some of their possessions in the middle of the night.
Not every storage container company offers round-the-clock service, so it will be important to do a bit of research to see who does locally. Many storage companies have more traditional hours, like 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
2. What is the security like?
Although choosing the best-priced service may seem like a good idea, your clients will want to make sure their stuff is actually going to be protected — even if it means paying a little extra than a facility’s competitors.
On-site management can give you all you need to know about security, but your clients can get a good handle themselves when they visit. Make sure you point out to them some of the things they should be looking for, including gated access, surveillance cameras, good lighting and high walls. These are all excellent indicators of good security measures.
3. Do they offer climate-controlled storage?
One very crucial consideration for your clients will be whether they need climate-controlled storage. Most facilities offer climate control storage. It will become more crucial if your clients store valuables and other items where temperature and moisture could become a problem. If they’re just storing a bunch of moving boxes, it is less likely to be a problem.
There is a cost factor involved with climate-controlled storage, so finding out whether it is needed or not will be essential. Depending on where you live in the states, you don’t want to store your belongings in a climate that is too warm or too cold. Make sure to ask about their climate-controlled storage units when you call them.
4. Are there any potential hidden fees?
Unfortunately, with anything like this, there are always additional fees along with simply paying for the unit, especially if they have prices that are drastically lower than their competition. Make sure you have your clients look over the fine print carefully.
5. What is the payment policy?
The last thing you want to do is miss a payment to a service that literally has your belongings in its hands — so it’s crucial to find how you should be paying them every month. Ideally, this will be done automatically rather than manually so that you can best avoid missing a payment.
6. Is storage insurance required?
Yes, it’s a thing. Some facilities require that you have self-storage insurance to use their services, so find out if the storage unit service requires it. Even if they don’t, it is smart to advise your clients to take out insurance. It is worth the money, especially when you are storing anything with value.
7. Does the service have onsite amenities?
Self-storage is booming, and as every new facility pops up, the more and more each service is trying to stand out. One way they do this alongside having competitive prices is by having cool and useful amenities on-site, which are free if you use their services.
This can be things like wash bays, wine storage or even a retail store. Although these may seem like a gimmick to you, it’s still worth looking into if there is an interest in these sorts of things in the future.
8. Who are the players in the self-storage industry?
You may be wondering who some of the larger storage companies would be worth mentioning to your clients. The following storage companies have rock-solid reputations.
- Public Storage
- Life Storage
- Extra Space Storage
- Simply Self Storage
If you know of a local storage company with an excellent reputation that isn’t one of the big brands, feel free to recommend it if you’re confident in its services. Comparing storage facilities and their respective costs is always a valuable exercise.
9. Can you get a tour of the place?
Just like buying a home, your clients must walk around the facility to get a feel of whether or not it’s right for them. Sometimes you can just gauge the quality of space once you’ve walked around.
You can also get a better idea of what the storage unit you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on is actually going to look like. It’s fine having measurements, but it’s also great to visually see something, too, so you can get a better idea of what you can and cannot store.
If your clients decide to hire movers to help them loading and unloading their things into a storage unit, don’t forget to advise them on what to tip. Remember moving is a service industry with those helping to provide a back-breaking service.
Hopefully, you have found this guide to picking a storage unit to be helpful and pass along the information to your buyers and sellers confidently.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell homes for the past 33-plus years. He has been a top agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty, which serves many towns across the state of Massachusetts. Check out his blog.