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Storage Units Are Not the Best Choice

On a busy week, we have close to 25 appointments. Our clients call us to evaluate antiques, fine art and jewelry. Most of these homeowners are either moving or selling a house for a family member. A very common question is “What should we put in storage?” I almost always advise against using a storage unit.

My family has been in the antique business for close to 50 years. The biggest issue our clients have is sentimentality. Even though they may never an item, they remember using it earlier in life. It also might have been a gift that they feel bad throwing away. They feel attached to the item. The item ends up in a storage unit for years only to be junked in the end anyway. A good way to decide if a piece should be kept is if you plan on using the item in the immediate future. It’s best to use it within a couple of months, not years.

If you are moving from a large home to an apartment, you may be tempted to keep items for other family members. Make sure these family members will use these items. Sometimes they tell you they will so that you don’t feel bad. Or they plan on taking them but end up using something new. Furniture can be bought fairly cheaply these days.

People may call us to look at what they have in storage. Sometimes we pick out two or three small items and the rest gets tossed. After paying thousands of dollars to store the items they usually don’t make much money when selling the contents.

Reasons a storage unit is a bad decision:

  • Expensive. Storage units can cost a great deal of money, especially in New York City. We had a client that moved to Washington and kept paying for the Long Island unit. After three years he called us and we bought the contents. The total he paid for storage was almost $12,000, it adds up quickly! The worst part about it was that we bought the contents for less than half that.
  • Logistics. If you live in a decent neighborhood you might not have a storage facility in your area. Also, the better neighborhoods that have storage units will end up charging an arm and a leg. The obvious answer to save money would be to get a cheaper unit a long-distance away. This becomes very inconvenient if you decide that you actually need something from the unit.
  • You may have to pay extra money for a climate-controlled unit. Otherwise many of your valuables can get damaged from the cold/heat.
  • Storage auctions. Many people have heard of all the storage auction shows on TV. This is a real thing, not just made for TV. All around the world storage units get auctioned off. The owners thought they would eventually use the stored items. However, rental payments got too high and the owners decide that they really didn’t need the items after all. The unit gets auctioned off to the highest bidder and the prior owner gets nothing. This is a perfect example of why storage units should only be a last resort.

Reason for a storage unit:

  • Our clients often buy a home soon after they sell the one they lived in. The new home needs work and they get stuck in limbo, possibly renting or staying with other family members. This is the perfect reason to store your items. However, be sure to get all your items out of the unit when the home is ready. If they don’t fit in the new home, they should be liquidated.

Of course, this is just our opinion based on our client’s experiences. You have every right to keep your sentimental items in storage. If you want us to take a look at items in your storage unit or home, let us know. We will be happy to help. See our contact page for more information.

Syl-Lee Antiques — NYC Antiques Buyer
Call us at (212) 366-9466 to schedule your in-home antique evaluation or contact us via email.