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A Few Tips for Shopping at Estate Sales

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As it we get deeper in the spring, I'm looking forward to one of my favorite past times - yard sales and estate sales. I've written about how to save money with yard sales and even gave you a peak at how I built a room on Craigslist and Yard Sales. However, I haven't talked much about estate sales. In some ways they are often better than yard sales. What is being sold is typically what someone has owned, not just what people have decided they no longer need or want. Often they are held due to the death of a relative. I like pretend that the person may just be moving and downsizing to a smaller house.

Here are a few tips that have helped me:

  • When shopping an estate sale be thorough - Many times you will find that special treasure inside of a box or closet. Make sure they are selling these items before you go digging into their closets though. Don't drive by and assume there isn't anything that you want. Searching through bins may offer you an unexpected item.
  • Be on the lookout for things that need just a little work - I am well, Lazy, but there are benefit for those who aren't like me. Those who are willing to clean can find some quality items that require a little scrubbing or fixing. Old furniture can be new again with a new coat of paint, or if you have the time stripping a piece of furniture and refurbishing it can become a great hobby. It is an inexpensive way to beautify your home.
  • Ask for a bargain - Just like yard sales, when you purchase items at an estate sale you can (and should negotiate). If you are purchasing several items, request a discount for all of your finds. If you have arrived at the end of the sale your bargaining power is greater as people are typically looking to get rid of things by the end of the day. However, I recommend showing up early - you want to be the bird and get that worm.
  • Keep a budget in mind - It can be easy to overspend when you find many treasures. If you are like me, you sometimes come home with a bunch of stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the end estate sales have some major advantages over buying new. It's often much cheaper. You can find more unique products (as opposed to having the Ikea or Crate and Barrel bookshelf that everyone has). You give item another life - recycling and reusing is good for the environment. Finally, it's fun to find a bargain.

Posted on March 31, 2011.

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5 Responses to “A Few Tips for Shopping at Estate Sales”

  1. How do you find estate sales?

    http://www.estatesales.net seems to be a decent resource, but do you know of anything else?

  2. Hunter says:

    Do you find these are held on weekends mainly, or weekdays. Are they auctioned or run like yard sales?

  3. chelsea says:

    http://estatesales.org is really the more comprehensive and user-friendly sale finder site :)

  4. Tiffany says:

    @#2 Hunter

    I’ve never seen them on weekdays. They’re pretty much in the same category as yard/tag/rummage/whateveryoucallthem sales, so no auctions.

  5. Micky says:

    Ok, I am definitely biased here, but I believe http://www.EstateSales.NET is definitely the place to go if you are in an area that has estate sales.

    Some areas are heavy on auctions. We also have auctions on the site, but some times you’ll need to look at places like AuctionZip.com.

    We have a section on the site that helps people learn about estate sales. Here’s a link to it:

    @Hunter, In addition to what Tiffany said, it depends a lot on your area. A lot of companies will have sales that are Thurs, Fri, and Sat. There are several retirement communities that hold them during the week. I hope this helps!

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