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Second-Hand Treasures: Tips to Get the Best Deals at Estate Sales

Each weekend you can find me standing in a line of strangers waiting to hunt through someone’s home. Estate sales are a great escape and a fantastic way to decorate your home on a budget. Sometimes I even make money!

These days, bargain hunters can turn up more than grandma’s tchotchkes. Estate sale inventories include new items, furniture, kitchen items, tools, art, collectibles, books, electronics and sometimes even cars. Choose sales that cater to your own taste for vintage items or modern furnishings.

Find a Local Sale:

  • Check Craigslist. Many estate sale companies and private sellers advertise under the “garage sale” section.
  • Check estatesales.net. Enter your zip code and find sales within a certain distance from your home. Register to receive advance notice of upcoming sales.

Know the Day: Many estate sales begin on either Thursday or Friday and last through the weekend. The first day is usually a full price day – great to go preview the items. Don’t purchase on the first day unless you absolutely fall in love with an item.

Know the Discount: Estate sale companies usually discount items by the day. The first day is full price, the second day is usually 25 percent off, and the last day is usually 50 to 75 percent off. Still, “full price” is discounted from retail.

Know the Time: Estate sale veterans will line up for a promising sale. Organizers only allow a certain number of people in a house at one time. Be early and be at the front of the line to score the best items.

Know the Tools: Many companies do not have a holding place for the items you find, and you’ll need to carry them with you as you hunt through the house. Bring a reusable bag to make browsing a bit easier. Also, leave newspapers and a few boxes in your car to safety get breakables home.

Know the Technique: When you enter a home, do a quick “sweep” through and grab anything you think you might want. You can always put it back later.

Know your Goods: Before you pay, look over your selections for damage or imperfections. Estate sales are final and no returns are allowed.

Know your Business: When purchasing a large number of items, don’t hesitate to ask for a deal. The worst that sale organizers will say is “no.” Many are bound by contract to certain prices.

Know your Budget: Search eBay to check prices on any unique items you may pick up at sales. You might be able to sell some items for a profit!

Estate sales are a fun way to find old and new treasures. Grab a cup of coffee and get in line. You never know what you might find!

This has been a guest post by Kristen from Arlington, VA.
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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4 thoughts on “Second-Hand Treasures: Tips to Get the Best Deals at Estate Sales”

  1. Thanks Kristen!  I just found 3 great sales with that search to attend on my Mom’s Day Out Shopping planned for the morning tomorrow!

  2. Linda Grace says:

    Couple of weeks ago got a big mason jar for 50 cents husband made fun of it. Got at a yard sale. But I like it came home check  on ebay  jar is go for around 90 dollars . NOW I’m laughing!! love yard sales  or Estate sales done by a family ones run by the pros cost more!

  3. Cindy Tittelfitz says:

    I went to an estate sale a couple of weekends ago.  They had white tablecloths GALORE (about 20)!  I needed to get some for a wedding, so I offered to buy them ALL in the condition they were in  (stained, torn, etc) and asked for a discount.  They wouldn’t budge stating that they were “under contract” and told me to come back the last day and they would be discounted if they were still there.  I decided to pick out the ones that were in the best condition and buy them at “full price”.  While I was in line, I heard the “seller” giving discounts to a customer in front of me – they were whispering.  I set the tablecloths down and walked away. 

  4. Yard Sailing is one of my favorite things to do! I collect Albums and finding these treasures makes my day! Recently, this summer I went to my first Estate Sale-came across it and checked it out. My cousin was the fortunate one and found a unique 1970s radio, loved it!

    Thanks for the tips!! 8-)