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How to Research Used Shipping Container Prices

04.09.2013 - Posted by Updated On 08.09.2013    

If you're buying a used shipping container for personal storage at your home, or for a commercial operation looking for a job-site office or construction storage, a used shipping container could be a good option for you to research and compare prices of what's available in the market. 
The price of a used container depends heavily on the following items:

You'll also need to consider the available inventory of containers in your area, and in some cases it might be cheaper to move a container to your location from another place that has an excess of inventory.  Not many websites will provide you with this information transparently, but on you can easily search and compare the prices of containers in any area that there's available inventory.

Shipping Container Condition and Price Impact

The price of shipping containers, just like nearly everything else, is greatly affected by the condition of the container.  If you compare the prices of used shipping container in your area and find one substantially lower there's a very good chance that something is wrong with it.  It may be rusted out, the frame could be racked and no longer water-tight, or there could be some other issue that you can, or can't easily see.  We're not saying that it's an impossible deal to find, but it's rare to find a container for sale in the retail market at these prices.

Cheap shipping container Affordable shipping container

Shipping Container Sizes and Price Impact

It's a little obvious to state, but worth addressing to avoid potential questions.  Used 20' containers are less than used 40' containers; exactly how much less?  It depends on the location and condition.  The same is true of new and used 40' containers.

10' shipping containers, or "Duocons", are the exception to the rule.  While it may seem like they should be less than 20' containers, there are a few things to point out.  1.  They still use a lot of steel, nearly the same as a 20' container.  The cost savings on the 10' less of sides and ceilings doesn't work out to that much.  2.  To ship them, they need to be welded together to form 1x 20' container.  Once at the depot they're cut apart to form 2x 10' containers.  Ships and ports are geared to handle 20' containers and 40' containers, so there's no savings in the logistics cost, actually the costs to move it area a little higher as they need to fill 2x 10' units, probably with some "less than load", LTL, items.

Size/Price Mistake Example:  A potential customer called for pricing of a container, delivered to his vacant lot.  Our seller provided them pricing that included delivery, and the customer went away for a few days.  The customer then called back asking for assistance with having a container moved, they had found a great deal at far better pricing then the seller could have ever competed with.  It turns out, the container was 53' and on a residential lot.  Most trucks can't move a 53' container without a forklift, and it would require the customer to rent a forklift and hire a large truck to move the container, leaving them with a greater cost than before.

How do Location/Inventory Impact Container Prices?

Coastal locations, especially those near ports, tend to have a great inventory of containers available.  Take Los Angeles for instance, the containers come off the ships and are taken to distribution centers where they're unpacked and reorganized into trucks or trains.  In some cases the products remain in the containers for further transport, but something needs to be done with the containers that remain at the depot.

Naturally, the containers at the depot hang out until they're needed to transport something else back to China, India, or some other destination.  The ones that remain build up and the price gets very competitive for the companies that want to sell them.

It could take a lot of effort, but it's possible to find a container at a port location and a truck driver that can move it for you.  However, for this to be cost effective you'll need a forklift on the other end that's strong enough to lift the shipping container off the chassis.

What "Extras" Can I Get for Shipping Container?

Extra options are available for used shipping containers, or you can have it rolled onto your site as is.  Depending on what you need there are some basic items, like bolt on lock boxes and container vents, to shelving, doors and windows, or even power systems for heating and a basic electrical supply.  If you're able to install them yourself, many of these items can be purchased online at  Otherwise, you'll want to contact the seller of the container to check on their ability to install the features that you need.

Shipping container accessories

Can I Get a Discount of I Buy Multiple Shipping Containers?

The answer to this is normally "yes", but it really depends on the seller, the market, and how many containers are available.  Depending on the size of the seller and their regular flow of containers through your area, in many cases you can get a better price for a bulk, high volume, or multiple unit order.

How Do I Compare Prices for Used Shipping Containers?

There are a few different ways to compare prices for used shipping containers.  First, you can contact the sellers in your area and see what each one would charge for the container + delivery, always ask for the total cost and the break down in pricing.  You can also check on eBay or to compare your local pricing and the pricing of the areas around you.

In the end, used shipping containers are similar to other commodity based asset and the price reflects this.  Location, condition, and size carry the biggest weight when determining container pricing.  If you have any questions, or need any assistance (no matter if you buy through us or not), you're always welcome to give the ContainerAuction office a call or email.

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