As I've been trying to educate myself about the world of self-storage investing for the past few months, I noticed that I had many self-storage-related websites bookmarked in my internet browser.
These websites serve a wide array of different needs in the self-storage industry, and some of them are more useful than others, but all of them have been helpful on some level.
Since I've got this large-and-growing link library at my disposal – it occurred to me…
“Why not share this on the blog??”
Now, it's important to point out – I DON'T have first-hand experience with all of these companies (this blog post is not an endorsement of the websites listed below)… I'm simply sharing all the websites I currently have bookmarked because all of them have been moderately helpful in helping me understand various aspects of the business, such as:
- Finding properties for sale (through brokers or directly from owners).
- Constructing new buildings and units for a new or existing facility.
- Managing a self-storage facility remotely.
- Getting empty units rented out ASAP.
- Making ancillary income from a self-storage facility.
- Doing property due diligence before buying a property.
I haven't employed all of these companies (yet). My point in posting these is that they've helped me understand what's out there, so I can compare and contrast what various companies bring to the table and what goes into the development and management of a self-storage facility in various markets around the country.
As time goes on and I continue to find other relevant products and services in the self-storage industry, I will continue to revisit this blog post to add new websites to the list and remove the ones I've deemed ineffective. This is my current list of bookmarked websites (as of June 2019).
Finding Investment Opportunities
There are a lot of ways to find self-storage facilities for sale. As many experienced real estate investors know, one of the more creative and reliable ways to get great deals is to find “off-market” properties that aren't listed yet (this can be done with a smart, direct mail strategy that utilizes a well-written message and a targeted list).
However, if you'd prefer to only look at the properties that are publicly listed – there are many sites to choose from. Some websites will show you properties listed “for sale by owner,” and others will show you properties listed by a commercial real estate broker (and some will show you a mixture of both).
For Sale By Owner Listings
Facebook Marketplace – Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest. A quick search in Facebook Marketplace (something like “self-storage for sale”) in your target area can yield some solid prospects. Of course, timing has a lot to do with this (you must be searching at the same time a self-storage owner is actively looking to sell), but some opportunities could arise with a little bit of persistence.
Craigslist – Like Facebook, Craigslist is another free platform where you can find everything for sale (including self-storage facilities). Of course, self-storage facilities aren't the site's primary purpose, so you'll have to look harder to find the opportunities – but you may also find opportunities here that probably doesn't appear on any other sites.
Self Storage Brokers
List Self Storage – Most of the listings on this site are from commercial brokers, but you may also find a few that come from the actual property owners.
Self Storages – Again, most of the listings on this site are from brokers, but you may find some FSBO properties here too.
Crexi – Similar to LoopNet, Crexi is a commercial real estate marketplace with tens of thousands of listings across all major asset classes in every state. Self-storage facilities are just one of many different property types you'll find here – but given its size and reach, it's probably one worth checking out.
Marcus & Millichap – This is one of the more well-known self-storage facility brokers with many active listings. You'll have to create an account to peruse their site, but once you do, you'll get access to a lot of great information. I saw on the site that there weren't many listings nationwide, but enough listings justify taking some time to look through what's available.
SVN Commercial Real Estate Advisors – Also known as Sperry Van Ness, this is another commercial real estate broker that specializes in self-storage facilities. Again, I wouldn't say there's a HUGE number of self-storage listings in their inventory, but there's enough to justify taking a closer look.
CBRE – Similar to the other commercial brokers with an arm dedicated to self-storage, you won't find an endless list of properties for sale on this website, but enough to take a closer look at.
Argus Self Storage – Another notable self-storage brokerage. More than enough listings to justify a close look when you're scoping out all the listed self-storage opportunities available on the market.
BizBuySell – One of many websites run by CoStar, this website is focused on selling businesses (not just real estate by itself). One of many business types this website serves is self-storage, a piece of real estate with an operating business. I've found some pretty interesting deals on this one alone. From what I can tell, most of the listings seem to be from brokers, but some may also come directly from the owner.
BizQuest – This is another website focused on selling an existing business. From what I've seen, it seems very similar to BizBuySell, with many of the same listings throughout
BusinessesForSale.com – This website displays thousands of operating businesses for sale, and self-storage is one of the key industries with plenty of opportunities available.
Design, Construction, and Manufacturing
Janus International – This company designs and constructs the interior components of new self-storage units (both for new construction and conversion projects). Their primary focus is on doors and hallway systems.
BETCO – This company is a self-storage building manufacturer that can handle both interiors and exteriors. Janus International acquired them in the Spring of 2019. BETCO manufactures the building (outside shell) and provides contractors to put everything up. They also have portable units available too.
Trachte Building Systems – A company specializing in the design and construction of self-storage facilities. They can advise in many aspects of a storage facility and help with site planning, custom engineering, installation, and marketing. If you're planning to build or expand your facility, this outfit is worth knowing about.
Trac-Rite Doors – Trachte Building Systems own Trac-Rite. As such, this company manufactures doors for all the buildings engineered and manufactured by Trachte. Still, they can also provide doors for other storage buildings that don't have doors (e.g., Storage Structures, Peak Steel, Mako Steel, etc.). Along with Janus, Trac-Rite is another well-respected door manufacturer in the industry.
Miller Building Systems – When I was looking into companies that design, manufacture, and deliver portable storage units (the kind that is virtually indistinguishable from site-built units but can be moved around when needed), I came across this company. They're located in Pennsylvania, and in my conversations with them, it sounded like they could deliver their units just about anywhere in the continental U.S.
Storage Structures – This was a company I hadn't heard about until I started working with a consultant to develop my first storage facility. This is another solid contender that can offer a lot of customization and competitive pricing on storage buildings. They don't manufacture doors, but in terms of the walls and roof, they are a worthy contender in the storage industry.
Peak Steel Buildings – I've seen several buildings from Peak Steel, and this company makes a great product. They don't manufacture doors, but when it comes to the buildings themselves, they can engineer and deliver just about anything you can imagine for a storage building.
Mako Steel – If you're getting quotes on storage buildings, this is another company to contact and get a quote from. One look at their website and see what kind of work they can do, and it's impressive!
City-Data – If you're in the early stages of analyzing a market to find the population density, the median household income, age distribution, new construction activity, and a TON of other relevant information, you'll find a huge amount of information here.
Google Maps – Want to find out what the competition is in your area? Just do a quick search for “self-storage, city, state” on Google Maps, and you'll find out who the other players are in your market.
Cutting Edge Self Storage Management – Operated by Stephan Ross, this company performs feasibility studies for new construction and acquisition projects. I ordered a feasibility study from Stephen and found his information comprehensive and accurate. The information he provided was enough to assist in getting approved by two banks for a new construction project.
SelfStorage101 – This company is run by Bob Copper and he does feasibility studies around the country.
Property Management Software
Tenant Inc – After spending hours sitting through demos with most property management software companies in the storage industry, Tenant Inc is the most impressive one I've seen to date. Their property management software (Hummingbird) has a great and easy user interface, and their websites (Mariposa) are intuitive and user-friendly. This is one of the few software companies I've seen that is actively listening to customer feedback and getting better. The only drawback I saw is that it's not the lowest-cost option and still lacks integrations with certain third-party services. Aside from those minor gripes, this is a great company I would be proud to recommend to others.
Easy Storage Solutions – I know several storage facility owners using this software, and for the most part, they're all pretty happy with it. This company is a one-stop shop for handling your management needs (software, payment processing, websites, gate access via PDK, call center, etc.). This can be a double-edged sword, though. The software is easy to learn and solves most of your problems in one place, but it's also a lot harder to move to another solution if it stops working and you're forced to use their call centers and gate access solution. Either way, this is a notable name to consider if you need help in these areas of a storage business.
SiteLink is the most widely used software in the storage industry. It can handle everything you'd expect from storage management software (payments, tenants, gate codes, websites, etc.). It's great for managing multiple sites and generating corporate reports. If you're planning to own more than one facility, SiteLink may be a good fit for you, long-term.
StorEdge isn't the cheapest option, but it's robust, well-known, and respected in the industry. Like SiteLink (also owned by Storable), it's great for managing multiple locations.
6Storage (along with 6Security) is a one-stop shop for management software, websites, and gate access systems. At the time of this writing, they lack integration ability with many other gate/access providers (which could be a turn-off if you already have a decent gate system and want to switch to this company). Hopefully, they will become more compatible with others soon. This one is worth investigating if you're looking for a new solution for your management software.
Storage Commander – The primary benefit I saw with this company is that it's a less-expensive option. If you're a stickler for saving money, this one is worth looking at. The company has been in the business for a long time, and the software can collect payments, keep track of tenants, and generate access codes (if you're using an automated gate). Functionally, the software seems to work just fine, but it looks very old, and their desktop software only works on Windows computers, which isn't great for Mac users.
Syrasoft is another management software company that can manage most of your day-to-day management needs (including a website). It integrates with most of the market gate access software and hardware. This is also a lower-priced solution that will appeal to those facility owners who don't want a big ongoing fee for their software.
Storeganise is another cloud-based property management software option that can do everything you would expect from a PMS system. It can automate billing and move-ins and even help tenants keep an inventory of the things they're storing, among other things. If you're investigating software options, this one is probably worth a look.
StoreHere is a self-storage facility brand in several states throughout the U.S. You can use them to manage your facility (though I'm not sure if they have a minimum requirement for the number of units). They have a call center and off-site sales support (whether you have a management agreement with them or not). They also have a mobile app that gets used by 70% of their customers – so if you work with them, it's one way to make things easier and more accessible for your tenants.
Gates, Keypads, and Access
Spider Door – This company has a keypad and gate access system that can work with a mobile app on each tenant's phone, providing a touchless entry solution. It also has some cool integrations (if you're using SiteLink and StorEdge) that can remind tenants of late payments and even allow them to pay at the gate if needed, which helps out with collections.
OpenTech Alliance – This is a widely-used and well-respected company that offers very robust keypads that operate in the coldest temperatures and also has a mobile app to allow for touchless entry.
Janus Noke is probably the coolest gate and individual unit access solution I know of. With a mobile app, you and your tenants can open the main gate and even unlock their units, which allows for touchless entry. With Janus Noke, the owner/manager can also lock, unlock and overlock individual units remotely, saving a lot of time traveling to the facility just to change out locks. At the time of this writing, their door locks are all battery-powered, which means they'll have to be changed out every 18 months or so (which is an added cost and time to consider). It's also a fairly expensive solution (initial installation and ongoing fees). When I looked at the numbers, it seemed like a great idea for a Class A facility, but maybe not a no-brainer investment for a Class C facility.
6Security – This company also offers some good technology at a good price, but it's not as widely used in the industry yet, because it doesn't integrate with all storage software solutions yet… but this is one to keep an eye on.
Tenant Renter's Insurance
Storsmart Insurance – If you want to protect yourself from liability (say, if your tenants stored items get stolen or destroyed) and earn a little bit of extra revenue from your facility, there's an easy case to be made for offering easy renters insurance for the renters at your facility. This is one of many programs out there that can help with this.
Storage Protectors – From what I'm told, this company offers real insurance versus a protection plan and gives a relatively higher dollar amount back to each facility for administration fees.
Kiosks, Locks, and Supplies
OpenTech Alliance – Kiosks offer an interesting blend of benefits and drawbacks. While they can be great at automating certain tasks on-site and eliminating the need for an on-site employee, they also tend to be rather expensive, with technology that can become outdated before it pays for itself. If you are looking for a kiosk and/or on-site security solutions (in addition to online, automated rent collection), this could be an outfit worth considering.
SupplySide – This site can probably cover you if you want to sell locks, bubble wrap, boxes, or whatever out of your facility.
Store Local is a co-op of nationwide self-storage owners that helps give the smaller players a lot of leverage to compete with bigger brand names and REITs. It can also be useful to get better pricing on materials and other common needs all self-storage owners have. This is a great resource to check out!
SpareFoot – This is a website that (among other things) can help owners of self-storage facilities find new tenants ASAP. From what I've heard from other property owners who use them, they charge 2.1 x 1 month’s rent for each new renter they send (sometimes more, depending on the supply and demand in your area). If they send you a renter and that person doesn’t rent, you don’t owe them anything (it’s on the honor system). If you need another way to fill up your units with renters, give them a call and find out if they might be a good fit.
StorageAuctions.net – I'm not entirely sure of the mechanics of how this site works, but it seems to be a helpful resource when selling off the contents of an abandoned unit to cover unpaid rent. I'm not even close to needing this yet, but I'll have this one bookmarked when that day comes. 🙂
SelfStorageAuction.com – Another website that helps put together buyers and sellers in a storage auction scenario. From what I can see, this one seems to be aimed at buyers/bidders, but it could be a helpful place to get plugged in if you have items to auction off. Buyers can join for free and get SMS text messages when auctions are happening in their area. Bidders will get notified quickly when they win their self-storage auction.
State Lien Laws from StorageAuctions.com – Before selling off items at an auction, each facility needs to ensure it follows the laws that apply in its respective state (failing to do so can open up the owner to a huge amount of liability). The facility owner must verify and conform to the state lien laws in which the governing jurisdiction is defined. This page links to most state-specific laws you'll want to know about as a facility owner.
Parham Group – Like most of the websites on this list, I have no experience working directly with this company, but from what I've seen of their website, they seem to over a good amount of information, services, and solutions for the self-storage industry (especially for those who are in the early stages of trying to figure it out).
The Storage Rebellion – I've spent some time searching online for FREE and legitimately helpful education on the self-storage business. – and honestly, there isn't much out there. One of the few resources I've found was Mike Wagner (his YouTube Channel). I won't say it goes into painstaking detail (at the time of this writing, it still appears to be in its infancy), but if you're looking for some helpful nuggets from someone doing it, I think it's a worthwhile resource to check out.
What am I missing?
Of course, I'm under no illusion that I've listed ALL of the most helpful services and resources for self-storage investors.
If you're in the self-storage investing business and know of a major resource I haven't mentioned, please comment on the forum and let me know what I'm missing! Hopefully, we can keep this list growing and maintain a solid running list of the most relevant online resources for self-storage investors.