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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Housing Bust and Self Storage Units

by Calculated Risk on 5/11/2008 11:57:00 AM

David Streitfeld writes in the NY Times about the impact of the housing bust on self storage: Losing a Home, Then Losing All Out of Storage. There are several interesting sub stories in this article, like the trend toward "residential units":

Fred Reger, an auctioneer in Washington and its suburbs, is seeing two trends, which he calls “matching luggage” and “residential units.”

The first means that he often sees a bunch of over-stuffed plastic bags when he opens a unit. “People used to put their belongings in boxes,” Mr. Reger said. “But Hefties are a lot cheaper. These people came in under stress, which explains why they defaulted a few months later.”

A “residential unit” is one where the renter tries to illegally live in the unit. “We used to see one or two residential units a month,” Mr. Reger said. “Now I’m seeing 6 or 8 or 10. At one facility in D.C. the other day, we had three residentials.”
And there is this sad quote:
Bill Martin, a 50-year-old former manager in the technology industry, lost his house in the Southern California community of Lake Forest last August. ...

“Storage has my hopes in it,” said Mr. Martin, who sleeps on a foldout bed in his mother’s guest room. “I don’t tell anyone this, but at least once a week I go over and look at my couch, my refrigerator, my TV stand, my mattress and realize I did have a life, and maybe there’s a way to go back to it.”
Note: the byline might sound familiar - Streitfeld used to write for the LA Times, and he wrote a series of excellent articles on housing, as examples: from 2006, A loan that'll get ugly fast, from March 2007, A town right on the default line (about the Inland Empire), Blight moves in after foreclosures and Foreclosures may spur price drops.