How To Navigate An Estate Sale Like A Pro

Estate sales are gold mines for vintage and antique hunters, yard and garage sale enthusiasts, and anyone looking for affordable household stuff. They can be difficult to navigate unless you know what you're looking for and even if you're a veteran, there might be a few tips you could use below. So from start to finish, here are the ins, outs, tips and tricks for navigating estate sales.


Look up estate sales online to view pictures of items on sale and see if there is anything you want. If something catches your eye, get to the sale early on the first day to get a good number or an early spot in line. Some estate sales let customers in a few at a time because of space restrictions. There is either a first come first served line or take-a-number system. The latter allows you to wander away before the sale starts as long as you hang on to your number. 

Professional estate sale professionals have different rules for their sales, so check online to see if there are any to take note of. Some don't allow children into the sale because of the amount of valuables and fragile items on display. Most don't take credit cards, debit cards or checks so bring cash. Many also won't allow you in with a large tote bag or enormous purse because of shoplifting concerns; it's nothing personal. Items you might consider bringing include a small flashlight for looking around dark closets or basements, a tape measure for furniture, your home's measurements and some wet wipes or antibacterial gel. 


Everything is for sale unless marked otherwise. That includes light fixtures, rugs, possibly even more affixed items such as appliance, draperies or mounted shelving. Don't hesitate to ask a salesperson for a price on anything not marked already. Don't forget to poke around in boxes, closets, the basement, attic and garage, which usually contain sale items as well. Look over any items you're interested in carefully, most sales are final and items sell as is. Smell fabrics and upholstery for irremovable smells from unknown sources.


Be polite and respectful to the estate sale workers, first of all it's the decent thing to do and second, they'll be more inclined to cut you a deal when you ask. On the first day don't get your hopes up for many discounts when you ask for them. The estate sale agents are hoping to sell what they can at full price on the first day. The next days, however, you might see price discounts from 50% up to 90% in the last wee hours of the sale. 


Be prepared with adequate hauling vehicles and tools. Some estate sales require you to remove purchased items at once, but others will allow you to come back the next day. Also, don't expect help with loading from estate sale employees; they sometimes cannot help for insurance reasons, and most of the time they are too busy helping customers inside with sales. 

You've now made it through each step of the estate sale from the moment you pulled up, to your triumphant exit with all the treasures and special scoops you found.