Is There a Limit to Americans’ Self-Storage Addiction? Billions of Dollars Say Nope

August 6, 2023

As a pandemic-inspired boom ends, entrepreneurs and giant corporations alike are counting on customers to keep accumulating more stuff than they can squeeze into their homes.

University endowments, insurers, sovereign-wealth managers and pensions last year plowed $2.5 billion into a private-equity fund raised by storage specialist Prime Group Holdings, the largest ever dedicated to the asset class. Prime has already acquired nearly 100 properties with the fund.

The career arc of Prime’s founder and chief executive, Robert Moser, shows that storage bros can dream big.

Moser, 46, started out in his fraternity-house bedroom at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. He showed up the first semester a licensed real-estate agent, wrote his thesis on income-producing properties and filed state records requests for New York water and sewer permits. An entire UPS truck of printouts arrived at his parents’ house.

Robert Moser, founder and CEO of Prime Group Holdings, started building a business out of his fraternity-house bedroom. PHOTO: CINDY SCHULTZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

He sorted through the documents looking for acquisition targets and spent weekends visiting and photographing properties. Moser never looked for a job when he graduated in 1999. His mom borrowed against the family home to stake him.

“I always wanted to own and manage real estate,” he said. 

Moser’s storage buildings performed so well during the 2008 housing bust that he decided to specialize and sold his apartments and trailer parks. Prime raised $154 million for its first investment pool and sold the assets in 2021 for about $750 million to a group led by a Singapore sovereign-wealth fund. Last year, Prime had to turn away investors even after enlarging its third fund by $1 billion, from an original target of $1.5 billion. 

To learn more about the self storage industry, please visit The Wall Street Journal.