By Martha Smith, Certified Self Storage Manager
So, you are interested in attending estate sales and need more information on how to get started. Just how do you go about finding estate sales? You can try websites such as www.estatesales.net or www.estatesales.org. These sites will allow you to sign up to be notified of new sales in your area if you are interested in future sales. You can also look on www.craigslist.com as just about everything is posted on that site, including estate sales. Another great way to find estate sales in your area is to be on the lookout for signage posted at neighborhood entrances where you normally drive. Signs will usually pop up a week or so in advance of the sale date. And if you get a local newspaper, they will have listings for these sales as well.
To make your estate sales shopping experience more fun and much easier, you should get the additional space of a self storage unit. As a buyer, you can store your purchases while you decide what to do with them. This allows you to buy items without necessarily having an immediate plan for them. If you are crafty and want to fix up your new things you just purchased, a storage unit is the perfect place to store your extra supplies like fabric and tools, and so forth.
It is common for estate sales to start on a Thursday or Friday, and go all weekend. Take advantage of those early bird days if you can. The best buys will go first, so you’ll want to get there early or you may be left with the least desired items, or the most expensive ones. The closer to the opening of an estate sale, the higher the prices will be, and there will be less room for negotiating. When a sale begins to wind down, the seller will be more likely to take offers less than the original asking price. You may want to offer 10-15 percent lower than what they ask to save some dough. But remember, this isn’t a garage sale where items are priced low to sell fast. So, don’t bid too low or you could easily miss out to another bidder.
Here are some general tips for estate sales:
- If you arrive before the sale begins, wait your turn in line.
- Always remember to use your manners. Sometimes it’s easy with all the anticipation of a sale to have some anxiety and get jumpy. Be sure to respect other bidders.
- If someone has picked up an item you are interested in, simply walk around and check back to see if they put it back down before you go standing in their space.
- If an item is sold, please don’t touch it. That is just a common courtesy to the new owner of it.
- Something of the utmost importance to think about; if you have placed a bid on an item, always honor it and don’t back out of the sale. If you are unsure, then don’t bid.
- Bring along a friend (or two) and a truck. Estate sales do not offer assistance in moving large items, so you want someone to help you lift items and a place to put them for easy transport.
- Bring some protectant items like bubble wrap and furniture pads, so you are prepared if you make purchases that need protecting.
- Bring plenty of cash, a checkbook and a credit card. Depending on how the sale is set up, they may only accept certain forms of payment. So it is best to be prepared with all types or you may not be able to make any purchases.
There are also some things to remember when choosing items to bid on at an estate sale:
- Look for black spots and damage to wood on furniture. These could be signs that there is a pest problem or infestation in the house – which means those pests can be inside the items for sale, and can travel home with you or to your storage unit. You certainly do not want that!
- Be sure there are no holes or rips in any fabric items, unless you are confident in your ability to repair them.
- Check for evidence of warping, chipped paint and broken pieces. Some of these things are hard or impossible to fix. The last thing you want is to realize too late that what you just bought is busted.
- Estate sales are not only good for bigger purchases; they are also great for smaller household items like tools, flatware and cookware. Go with an open mind.
I hope these tips give you a good start with your estate sale experience. It’s really important that you don’t forget the first step – to rent a self storage unit. You need a place to store all your new purchases. Then start looking and find the dates for upcoming estate sales in your area, and have fun buying your treasures!
If you are ready to start estate shopping and need some extra space for your great finds, you can rent a storage unit online and be prepared!