An estate sale generally takes place when an individual is trying to liquidate property in his or her home. The sale may be taking place to liquidate the property of an individual who is moving, downsizing or has recently passed. This presents an incredible opportunity to find quality items at reasonable prices. However, you need to know how an estate sale works to get the best price on the merchandise that you want.

DO: Buy The Items You Really Want The First Day

Estate sales are organized in a way to move inventory fast. A well-organized sale should see most of the items in the home sold by the first day, or first full day. It is therefore important, if you had your heart set on something, to go and purchase it as soon as possible. Sales organized and run by professional estate sale companies, typically have set discounts on the last day, with the deepest discounts in the last few hours. This arrangement is designed to clear out the last few items left. Thus, expect the deepest discounts at this time (perfect for casual browsing), but don’t expect the best pieces of inventory to still be around.

DO NOT: Expect Anyone to Help You Move Your Stuff

It is rare that anyone associated with the sale will help you load heavy items into your car or truck for you. First, those who are running the sale already have plenty of work to do monitoring those inside or helping customers find what they are looking for. Second, it may create an insurance liability to help you move your items, so it is always a good idea to bring extra people with you if you think that you can’t load an item on your own. It is important to note that you may be able to come back later to pick up your merchandise if you need to get a larger vehicle or enlist a friend to help you.

DO: Keep Your Bags and Purses at Home

Mostly, this is about making sure that no one steals a small item while they are inside the house. In some cases, there may not be enough room inside of a home for people to have large bags or any other items that could take up valuable space. It is recommended that you bring a small purse or wallet that can easily fit inside of your pocket. If you do buy anything at an estate sale, security may ask to see your receipt before you leave.

DO NOT: Complain If There Is a Line

There is a good chance that there will be a lot of interest in any estate sale that is taking place. With the opportunity to find rare items or just get a great deal on useful items, many people are going to show up. Therefore, it will be necessary to keep an orderly flow to the sale. This is done by limiting the number of people allowed in the house at any one time. While you may need to wait to get inside the home, you can rest assured that you will get your chance to browse if you are patient.

DO: Ask About Payment Terms Ahead of Time

Estate sales run by individuals may not be set up to take credit card payments. Therefore, you will be stuck paying by cash. It is important to ask about what type of payments are accepted ahead of time to ensure that you are ready to make an offer and complete the transaction before anyone else has a chance to close the deal. A professionally organized sale will almost always have more payment options available, including the ability to accept cards.
While an estate sale may be worth checking out, it is important to realize that it is different than buying goods at a store or online. Essentially, it is a hybrid of a department store sale and a garage sale. Therefore, it is a good idea to research a sale ahead of time to determine what types of payment will be accepted and whether or not you should anticipate waiting in line before browsing the merchandise.