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How Do Estate Sales Work?

New to estate sales? We explain exactly how estate sales work with a few hints & tips to make your next estate sale shopping experience extraordinary.

Estate Sale Basics

How Do Estate Sales Work?

What is an estate sale?

An estate sale is a sale that is held to liquidate a large number of items, typically an entire household, in a short time. It is open to the public and the items for sale are usually former possessions of the estate owner. Estate sales are held for many reasons including to prepare for a big move, to take care of belongings of a relative who has passed away, or simply to help with a downsizing effort.

Who holds an estate sale?

Estate sales are rarely held by the owners of the estate being liquidated. It is most common for estate sales to be held by expert Estate Liquidators. These estate liquidation companies help to price and organize items. They take care of marketing the sale to ensure that a large number of people attend and they manage the sale.

How do I shop an estate sale?

Once you have found an estate sale you are interested in, you simply go to the location of the estate sale at any time during the hours advertised. If you see something you can't live without, arrive early on the first day of the sale so that you will have a better chance of getting the item before someon else does. If you arrive before the sale there may be a line or someone handing out numbers to allow for orderly admittance, otherwise the door to the residence will be open and you can just walk right in.

Items for sale are displayed throughout the residence and everything you see is for sale unless marked otherwise. To shop, you simply walk around and browse. For example, in the kitchen you will may see pans and pots and in the bedrooms you may see quilts, pillows, and clothing. Expert estate saler hint: Basements are usually a great place to start  We've found lot's of hidden treasures in basements over the years.

Pricing is also easy. Prices are clearly marked on each item. You can haggle if you really want to, but we've found estate sales are typically full of deals so we rarely end up haggling. 

When you have found everything you want to buy, simply go to the checkout table and pay. It’s that simple! (See, we told you estate sale shopping was easy). So what are you waiting for? Get started estate sale shopping today!

Need more estate sale shopping help?

We’ve put together this handy beginners guide to estate sale shopping that will tell you everything from where to park to what the best time to shop an estate sale is.