Garage sales can be full of deals, but if you’re really looking for pre-owned, high-quality items at great prices, look for an estate sale.
Estate sales are often run by professionals when a homeowner has died or moved to a much smaller place where they can’t take everything they own with them, such as an assisted-living facility. You can haggle at an estate sale, just as you would at a garage sale, but don’t expect huge deals until the end of the day. Some items may have a minimum price and won’t be sold at the end of the day if it isn’t met. Here are some things worth buying at an estate sale:
Quality furniture is common to find at estate sales. Returns aren’t allowed, so be sure to check the condition of everything you buy—furniture and beyond. Check that a chair isn’t broken or has wobbly legs, and that the desk you want to buy has drawers that open easily.
If you need tools, this could be the place to find them. High-quality tools that are still in working condition or only need a little TLC can be better than what you’ll find new in a store.
Fine jewelry may be priced close to market value, but the advantage can be in finding unique pieces that you’d like to wear. Unique costume jewelry will be discounted more and easier to find.
The downside is that if you’re considering buying fine jewelry, you won’t have time at an estate sale to get it appraised by a professional. If the seller says it’s 14-karat gold, you’ll have to take their word for it.
Dinnerware sets are becoming a thing of the past as wedding gifts. Secondhand fine china can be common at estate sales, however, and can be valuable.
Don’t expect to be that rare person who finds a piece of fine art at an estate sale, buys it for a few dollars and then finds out later it’s worth millions. Instead of hoping for that rarity, look for original paintings, sculptures and other pieces of art that catch your eye and are unique.
You probably won’t find a $1 million painting being sold for $20, but you may find the perfect piece to put in your living room.