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10 Savvy Tips for Shopping Estate Sales

Estate sales are a great way to score deals or find unique pieces. However, you're not the only one who is thinking this way, so to get the items you want at the best price, here are some tips that only the savviest estate shoppers know!

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Search for Estate Sales on Foot

Although estate sales are often advertised, it is best to drive around and find them in neighborhoods in which you’re interested in shopping. According to frequent estate sale shopper, Lucy Stone, driving around on Saturday mornings (between 6 and 9 a.m.) is the best time to search for estate sale signs.

Estate sales can offer some interesting stories–read about these fortunes found in attics.

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Get there Early to Get the Pieces You Want

Since estate sales are as popular as garage sales or auctions (if not more so) , plan to get there early. Know that you won’t be the only one, so be patient and try to get your spot in line as early as you can. Learn about some antique pieces that you might not know are valuable!

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Shop the Second Day to Score Lower Prices

“Most of the time, estate sales are a two-day thing,” Stone says. “It’s always best to check out the sale on the second day because that’s when the prices go down and there is more room for negotiating. Still go early, so that you can find quality items!” If you like bargains, you’ll like these clever handy hints for less than $5.

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Always Come with Cash

Although many will advertise that they take credit cards, you may score a better deal if you’re able to pay cash. Remember, many people are eager to have this stuff gone, so they may be willing to bargain if you have funds available to them imediatly!

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Leave Your Bag at Home

A big, bulky purse will make estate sale workers suspicious of you, plus it will get in your way as you navigate the home looking for treasures. Put your money in a wristlet wallet or your pocket.

Photo: Courtesy of XeYOU/Amazon

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Score a Unique Find

Skip home stores and find a piece that’s unique for your living space. Estate sales are a great opportunity to find something exquisite at a bargain price. Come with an open mind, but with the design style you have in mind and if a piece speaks to you, buy it!

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Take a Big Vehicle (and Helping Hands)

It’s important to remember that you need to be able to take things with you immediately—especially big-ticket items. Keep in mind that you may not be able to lift these things yourself, so bring some friends to help you carry items and load them if you anticipate purchasing something big. Always take good care of your wheels! Here are 100 car maintenance tasks you can do yourself.

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Always Go With Your Gut

Since the items you’re purchasing are used, you should expect to receive at least 50% off the value of the item, if not more. Assess the condition of the item and make an offer based on the price and condition. If you don’t think you’re getting the best deal on the item, move along. If you’re all about saving money, here are 21 inexpensive closet updates for DIYers.

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Establish Rapport

You may get a better deal if you strike up a friendly conversation with the sellers. And this will also help you to understand their expections for the sale to understand if you can haggle, etc.

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Lower Your Expectations

Although we’ve all seen people score major deals on one-of-a-kind items on our favorite TV shows, that’s not always how it works. If you don’t find anything at one estate sale there’ll be more to go to next week!

Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter has worked in Higher Education since 2008, following a career as a High School teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious Australian Shepherd.