Lee Varhola Home
Estate Sales for Rookies
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
My Guide to Estate Sales
Probably one of my most frequently asked questions is “How do you find estate sales? I have been wanting to try them but I never know how to start”
Well, let me help you!
How do I find the sales?
Estatesales.net is my go to for all the local sales. I simply enter my zip code and can see the majority of the sales in the area including times, dates and photos.
I like using this site because they usually provide all the information that I need (photos, address, times, payment information). The site also provides a link to the estate sale company website (if they have one) which is helpful to see other sales, how they take payment, and the discount schedule.
When should I go to a sale?
Typically, sales are more than one day. The first day, you can expect the items to be priced “full price”. This is the price that the company believes to be the value of the item. If I see something in the preview photos that I really want and that I am willing to pay for, I will go the first day. Sometimes this means getting there right at the start of the sale and waiting at the door to be let in.
The days to follow are usually the days items are marked down 20%, 50%, as low as 75%. If I don’t see something that I really want, I will usually wait until the second or third day. Sometimes the sale can be totally wiped out by then, but I am willing to risk it because there is nothing that I need. These days are usually fun days to see the house itself because they are pretty empty.
How does it work?
This is another frequently asked question. How do I buy something if I want it? When you really think about the concept, it is kind of strange. Say I want a set of dishes that I see on the kitchen shelf, Grab them! Most pieces are labeled with a price and if you want it, take it! You want a photo off the wall? Take it off the wall! Most companies are great about pulling things out to display on tables and shelves. If you see something large that you cannot carry, pull the tag off and take it with you.
When you are ready to pay there is always a table at the front of the house with someone ready to take your money. Sometimes it is someone with a calculator and a cash box, other times it is a tablet that your credit card can be inserted to. This is why I like to know ahead of time the forms of payment that they accept.
Can I bid on items?
Yes! Most companies let you bid on items the first and second day. You are usually required to bid at least 50% of the price. For example, I want a painting that is $100. I leave a bid on the first day for $50. If the painting has not sold by the end of the second day (for $80 on 20% off day) then I will win the item. They usually call you and leave a message of when and how to retrieve the item. That's a lot, I know!
Some of my favorite purchases. This Ballard Designs bed for $200. My dining room table and chairs set & my chandelier that I found on a garage floor for $45.
All of this to say that YOU CAN DO IT!! Just try it! It is really fun! Some of my favorite pieces in my home came from Estate sales where I wasn't looking for anything, and ended up finding a gem!
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