10 Tips for Estate Sale Newbies

There’s a show on HGTV called Cash n Cari that’s based on a woman who runs an estate liquidation company. It’s on at 5:30am so I tape it. I guess they think crazy estate sale people are up at the crack of dawn watching tv. If you like going to garage sales you’ll love this show. Watching it a few times, and learning about estate sales from the inside, gave me the courage to go to my first estate sale, and now I’m hooked.

So here are my tips so far:

  1. There are web sites in every city for estate sales. Put your city and the phrase “estate sales” in your browser to find sales close to you. Some of them even post photos of stuff going up for sale so you can get a feel for what’s in store.
  2. If you show up before the sale opens the staff hand out numbers and people are allowed inside in order, so get your number right when you get there.
  3. Bring cash. (enough said)
  4. The prices listed are starting points so don’t be shy about haggling a little. These people are pros and expect it.
  5. They will give you better prices the more stuff you buy. They’re goal is to empty the house, so try to help them out.
  6. If you go at the end of the last sale day they cut prices as low as 50% just to get rid of stuff.
  7. They typically have most of the house open, including the back yard and everything you see is for sale. Sometimes I’ve forgotten this and have been in “model home touring” mode, appreciating the lovely decor. That decor is for sale, woman! Grab it and it can be lovely in YOUR home!
  8. Be prepared for them selling even more than the kitchen sink. Sometimes these sales happen  after people have died or gone into nursing homes and they’re selling the fallout. So yes, those adult diapers, bedpans and walkers are for sale too.
  9. I ran into a neighbor at one of these sales and she was saying she felt bad going through these people’s things. Here’s how I look at it- A lot of times people have to resort to estate sales when they’ve had unexpected costs related to their family member’s aging or death. These sales go directly toward covering nursing care and funeral expenses. Every dollar they make helps ease their burden during a very trying time in their lives. So load up and feel good about it!
  10. The prices at estate sales are way better than antique and consignment shops. This is where dealers shop, so when you go you’re cutting out the middle man and pocketing the savings.

Get brave and go, it’s a blast!


2 thoughts on “10 Tips for Estate Sale Newbies

  1. Great tips! I run estate sales for a living and always enjoy reading what others have to say on the subject. I’d like to clarify one thing, though: not all estate sale companies pass out numbers. Some do, but others may have a sign-up list or they may have a first-come-first-in sort of sale. Also, estatesales.net is a great resource for finding estate sales or estate sale companies near you. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

All thoughts are welcome!

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