Attending estate sales is a more recent experience for me. Being ignorant of the process I always thought they were auction style proceedings held in county warehouses or in large manors of the wealthy. They do happen in these arenas but the more common estate sale happens within someone’s home and rarely are they auction style.
The reasons for an estate sale vary. Most often it is someone downsizing after a lifetime of collecting, a forced sale due to taxes, abandonment of property, or the elimination of an estate after a loved one has passed away. Whatever the reason may be the benefit to you can be great.
I attend estate sales for two reasons. first to find products to sell through my enterprise and second to find furnishings or precious items for my home and office. I just wish I would have considered them when my wife and I first started out our life together. It’s a great way to find really nice furniture for a fraction of the retail cost. Many sales have furnishings that are used up but quite a few i have found were selling barely used top line furniture and appliances at 1/3 the cost of new.
It’s a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking for before you go to a sale. I also recommend that you review the main estate sale websites to search for estate sales to attend in your area:
The listing agents almost always have pictures of what is being sold. At the very least they will have a written description. If you are looking for items to sell or collect bring a smart phone or tablet that will give you remote internet access. Often I will find figurines at what I think are good prices only to find better examples available on line for a better price. The opposite is of course true but estate agents are no dummies. Much of their pricing is based off of what like items are selling for on the internet (ebay, etsy, amazon, etc…,)
If a sale is being held over a two or three day period then there are usually a few rules of thumb. Day 1 prices will not be discounted. Day 2 they will typically knock 20% to 30% off of the price. Day 3 is almost always half off or better. The last day is where you can negotiate your best deals but you can also miss out on items you really wanted because someone was willing to pay the higher price the day before.
Estate sale agents are like any other business. Most of them are straight forward and honest. Every now and then though you run across someone that is not only ripping the seller (estate owner) off but they are ripping the buyer off also. Thankfully the vast majority of estate sales I have been too have been run by great people. When you run across a bad one avoid them like the plague and spread the word to anyone else you know to avoid them.
What you will see at many sales is a table set up that will have glass cases full of jewelry both real and costume. At first I thought they were part of the estate being sold. But I soon discovered that often these were items that are consigned from other sellers or pieces the estate agents purchased and are selling for themselves. It’s not bad practice it’s just something to be aware of.
Finally, you may find that you like auction style sales. I don’t care for that format and i personally avoid all auction sales. I don’t like the frenzied feel and I would rather find things and purchase them immediately. If you have never tried it though you should at least see what they are like. For the regular sale if you want to make sure you are able to get to the best items first be sure to arrive early. Read the listing carefully and they will tell you when it starts and when you can arrive to line up. Most sales will have a sign up sheet at the door or they will give you numbers when you arrive.
Bottom line is that if you are looking for furniture, appliances, designer clothes, kitchenware, jewelry or porcelain figurines for personal use or to sell estate sales are a great resource for you. If you take the time to research what you are looking for and monitor the estate sale web sites you can not only save a great deal of money you can make money too.
If you have any estate sale stories or tips I would love to hear from you.