How Do Estate Sales Work? A Comprehensive Guide

Auction Ninja

How do estate sales work? This is a common question asked by people who are trying to buy new things for their homes or are trying to sell a significant portion of their estate. Estate sales do not have to be complicated, but it is still important to learn more about the process to make sure the process goes smoothly. Keep reading this comprehensive guide for everything you need to know about estate sales and how to find them. 

What Are Estate Sales? 

Technically, a sale is only considered an estate sale if the original owner of the items for sale has passed away. However, the term is often used interchangeably with downsizing and moving sales, tag sales, and personal property sales. All are designed to help you dispose of most of your possessions in an orderly and efficient process. It is typically done to clear out large amounts of items in a home without having to pack them up in boxes or move them. 

Why do people have estate sales?  There are a few common reasons, which include any major life change like: 

  • Filing for bankruptcy
  • Going through a divorce
  • Moving to a new home
  • Downsizing belongings
  • Death of a loved one

Estate sales literally mean that they are selling someone's entire estate. This includes all of their assets, belongings, and anything else that they owned at the time of one of these life changes.  

How Do Estate Sales Work? 

Estate sales are also known as tag sales and can be held in-person or online. Typically, everything is for sale in an estate sale – from the furniture to the contents of the kitchen cabinets and closets. There are some slight differences between online and traditional, in-person estate sales.

In-Person Estate Sales 

Usually, everything that is on sale will be marked with a price tag and is up for grabs! If a family wants to keep some of their favorite pieces from the home, they can set them aside before people come to shop. Estate sales last for two to three days and allow many buyers to stop by the home to look for valuable items at a good price. 

These sales are first-come, first-served, so it is important to go to an estate sale as soon as possible. Oftentimes, you must sign up ahead of time and will be let into the home in the order you signed up. Once inside, if someone notices an item that they like, they can take it to the front of the home to purchase it immediately. 

Online Estate Sales & Auctions

Unlike in-person estate sales, online estate sales and auctions are held virtually and are open to bidding for a longer period of time. There are some  major advantages of online auctions:

  • Since the entire estate is listed online, you have plenty of time to browse each item and shop from the comfort of your home. No need to get to sales at the crack of dawn and wait in long lines!
  • Many estate auctions are open to shipping smaller items like jewelry, collectibles, artwork and so on, enabling you to buy from estates outside of your immediate area.
  • You control the pricing. Most online estate auctions don’t have reserve pricing, so the item goes for what bidders are willing to pay. There’s no harm in bidding an amount that you’d consider to be a  good deal – you might just win.

Where To Find Estate Sales? 

Many people wonder, "how do I find estate sales in my area?" When people have an estate sale in their homes, they usually advertise them around their neighborhood. This is an easy way to notify the public about the sale and to generate local interest. 

Other people will advertise their estate sales online. This way, they can attract even more people to the sale. They may even be able to sell some of the belongings online. 

Finally, other people hire a company to help with an estate sale. These companies help stage the estate sale, price belongings, advertise, and more. In these situations, it would be best to find an estate sale company to look for local estate sales. They will often have lists of local or online estate sales that people can shop 

Estate Sale Pricing

What are prices like at estate sales? It depends on the item. Typically, a professional appraiser will visit the home and give the homeowners an idea of how much their items are worth. 

Even items that do not look valuable may be of interest to people at an estate sale. For example, old dishes, figurines, or other belongings may be antique or collectible. 

When shopping at an estate sale, it is normal for homeowners to sell their belongings at a 10% to 30% discount. Still, some people will get lower prices for high-quality pieces by negotiating with the sellers. 

Online estate auctions are managed a bit differently, and rather than the estate sale company or appraiser setting the price, the price is set by the marketplace. This is beneficial for both the seller and the buyer, since it can save a significant amount of time on the front end of the sale. This approach can also breed excitement about products that sometimes lead to bidding wars.  Some pieces might sell for lower than an estimated price.  Others may sell well above.  But typically, items sell at the truest fair market value.  

On the whole, estate sales are a great way to find great pieces for a much lower cost than full retail. 

What Sells at Estate Sales? 

In an estate sale, homeowners can sell whatever they want. However, it is hard to know exactly what will sell at an estate sale. 

Typically, things like furniture, art, kitchen appliances, and even vintage jewelry are products that sell at an estate sale.

In addition, items like power tools, exercise equipment and a variety of collectibles have a good resale value and sell well. Anything that doesn't sell at an estate sale is typically donated or thrown out. 

Pros and Cons of Estate Sales

There are many pros and cons of an estate sale. 

One of the biggest advantages of having an estate sale or downsizing/moving sale is that it allows individuals to get rid of a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. Plus, it helps them make money on items that may have otherwise gone to waste. 

There are many advantages of estate sales for buyers as well. It allows them to find reliable, high-quality belongings at a much lower price. Plus, it provides an opportunity to find unique or collectible items that are no longer sold. 

Still, there are some disadvantages to consider. First, homeowners may not sell their belongings at their actual value. Plus, they may have to split the profits with others. However, the cost of hiring an estate liquidator is often well worth it, especially when attempting to offload a significant number of items.  

Overall, estate sales are a great opportunity for both the seller as well as potential buyers and the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. 

How Do Estate Sales Work? Learn More Today

How do estate sales work? They are a great way to find high-quality items for sale or to quickly sell a lot of items and find great deals on furnishings and other belongings.

Are you wondering "how to find estate sales near me"? AuctionNinja can help! Simply search the AuctionNinja marketplace to find local estate sales, online estate sales, and other nearby auctions.

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