Article Written by Pat Fitzgerald, for the Culpeper Times.

This article appeared in Rappahannock News on August 17th.

‘People selling, buying, building and they’re in between one of the situations’

The booming real-estate market across the Piedmont and the rest of the nation has led to another side effect besides higher housing prices — finding storage space to put everything in between moves is hard to come by.

“Our facility alone has been 100% full for three months,” said Christina Jones, property manager at StoreLand next to the new Hampton Inn in Culpeper. “We have a customer who will vacate and we’re filling that unit right up.

“Our wait list is crazy,” she said. “And we know Culpeper Self Storage, Greta down the road, is the same way. … It’s all the same story, ‘we don’t have anything.’”

“We’re full,” said Greta Lohr, facility manager at Culpeper Self Storage. “We haven’t had a break well before COVID. It started probably in mid-January of last year and the need for storage has just progressively gotten greater.”

And it’s not just locally. Self-storage thrives when people experience change, and “Covid disrupted norms across all generations,” Drew Dolan, principal at DXD Capital, a self-storage developer and investor, told The Wall Street Journal. He added that many customers who needed self-storage in 2020 were first-time customers.

“We’ve never slowed down this year,” Jones said. “Last July we were 98% occupied and it kept going crazy. Normally in the wintertime, it’s a much slower season and we haven’t stopped. This February we hit 100% and it’s pretty much been that way even up until last month.”

Everyone is selling their home, and they’re selling so quickly that they have nowhere to go, Jones said, adding it’s a good thing for her 359-unit location. In fact, StoreLand is building another 169 units to keep up with demand.

“Initially, it was people were downsizing … not needing such a large home,” Culpeper Self Storage’s Lohr said. “And in the most recent couple of months, it’s been the housing market, people selling, buying, building and they’re in between one of the situations.

“I have done this for 30 years, and in the 30 years that I have done this, I have not seen a demand as great as this,” Lohr said. “I can only tell you what my customers are telling me, they need some place to put their stuff in between. It’s been a good season.”

StoreLand is hoping the self-storage boom continues, as evidenced by its new construction.

“We are building four new buildings next door and they should be up by fall so we can occupy them,” Jones said. “That’s what we’re excited for.

“It’s definitely a seller’s market right now,” Jones said.

While competitors, Jones and Lohr check on each other to see if they might have any late-minute availability.

“I’d say between phone calls and customers walking in, we’re getting three or four a day,” Jones said. “We’ll call [Lohr] if we don’t have anything; and she’ll call and say, ‘we have a customer that needs this thing,’ and we do the same thing.”

“The smaller people have to work together,” Jones said.

Thumbnail photo by Darrin Moore on Unsplash.