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 a lot of 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 – I 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 at 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 actually 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 so I can add new websites to the list and remove the ones I’ve deemed aren’t helpful. 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 that are listed “for sale by owner” and others will show you properties that are 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 have to be searching at the same time a self-storage owner is actively looking to sell), but with a little bit of persistence, some opportunities could arise.
Craigslist – Similar to Facebook, Craigslist is another free platform where you can find everything under the sun for sale (including self-storage facilities). Of course, self-storage facilities aren’t the primary purpose of the site, 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 find a few that come from the actual property owners as well.
Self Storages – Again, most of the listings on this site are from brokers, but you may find some FSBO properties here too.
LoopNet – A well-known name in the commercial real estate space, LoopNet Find self-storage facilities for sale (though, this isn’t the primary purpose of the site, so you’ll have to look harder to find the opportunities)
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 a lot of active listings to choose from. 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. From what I saw of the site, there wasn’t a huge number of listings nationwide, but still, it’s enough listings that justifies 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 listing in their inventory, but there’s enough to justify taking a closer look.
CBRE – Similiar to the other commercial brokers who have 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 my CoStar, this website is actually focused on selling businesses (not just real estate by itself). One of many business types served by this website is the self-storage, which is essentially a piece of real estate with an operating business built into it. I’ve actually been able to find some pretty interesting deals on this one alone. From what I can tell, most of the listings seem to be from brokers, but there may be some that come directly from the owner as well.
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 is another website that displays thousands of various operating businesses for sale, and self-storage is one of the key industries with plenty of opportunities available.
Design, Construction & 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 hallways systems.
BETCO – This company is a self-storage building manufacturer that can handle both interiors and exteriors. They were actually acquired by Janus International in the Spring of 2019. BETCO manufactures the building (outside shell) and they provide contractors to put everything up as well. They also have portable units available too.
Trachte Building Systems – Another company that specializes in the design and construction of self-storage facilities. They can advise in many aspects of a storage facility, help with site planning, custom engineering, installation, and marketing. If you’re planning to build or expand your facility, this is an outfit worth knowing about.
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.
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.
Starr Commercial – This company is run by Amanda Helfrich and she is a certified commercial appraiser who does appraisals, construction consulting, market studies, and feasibility studies.
SelfStorage101 – This company is run by Bob Copper and he does feasibility studies around the country.
Property Management Software
Easy Storage Solutions – I know two self-storage facility owners who are using this, and both of them seem to be pretty happy with it. This service will give you your own facility website (which allows you to rent units and receive payments) and it comes with a live phone service that acts as your customer service for new and existing tenants who call your business phone number.
StoreHere – This is a self-storage facility brand that is present 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.
Web Self Storage, Site Link, Yardi, and Domico are some other self-storage property management software solutions I’ve stumbled across. I don’t know anyone who is using them and I haven’t explored the differences between these – but if you’re shopping for various solutions to this issue, they may be worth exploring.
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 an 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 the relatively higher dollar amount back to each facility for administration fees.
Kiosks, Locks and Supplies
Open Tech 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 – Whether you’re looking to sell locks, bubble wrap, boxes or whatever out of your facility – this site probably has you covered.
SpareFoot – This is a website that (among other things) can help owners of self-storage facilities find new tenants ASAP. From what I heard from another property who uses them, they charge 2.1 x 1 month’s rent for each new renter they send your way. If they send you a renter and that person doesn’t rent, you don’t owe them anything (it’s on the honor system). Similar to most other resources in this list, I’ve never used them – so don’t take my word for it. Give them a call and find out if they might be a good solution for filling up your units with renters.
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 the stage of needing this yet, but when that day comes, I’ll have this one bookmarked. 🙂
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 buyer/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 make sure it’s following the lien laws that apply in its respective state (failing to do so can open up the owner to a huge amount of liability). It is the responsibility of the facility owner to verify and conform to the state lien laws in which the governing jurisdiction is defined. This page links to most of the 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 a bit of 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 (and particularly, 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 who is actually 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 you know of a major resource I don’t have mentioned here, please leave a comment below 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.
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