What's behind door number two? Storage auctions on the rise

Auctions of storage units are doing a brisk business these days.

Several newspapers around the country have been reporting on them in the last couple weeks. While it's long been a practice that if someone stops paying for their storage and abandons their stuff, the goods can be sold, it's happening more and more frequently.

Why? Well, obviously, the economy. If you can't pay your credit card bills, you probably can't pay for the extra storage. I have to admit -- and I apologize to anyone I inadvertently insult -- I've never understood why anyone would pay to use an off-site storage site indefinitely.

Obviously, it's understandable if you're in the middle of a move, and you're living out of a hotel while your belongings temporarily live in a storage unit facility. But people who just have a bunch of extra stuff, and pack it away in a facility to live because they don't know what else to do with it... that's always seemed like a huge waste of money. If you have that much stuff, why not sell it?

And that, of course, is what's happening. Auctioneers are selling off that extra stuff. So if you're thinking of going to an auction and bidding, here are some things to consider: