Attending Estate Sales

One of the commonly asked questions we respond to is from first-time attendees. The question is often formulated like this:

I heard about estate sales from a friend but have never attended one. What is the process, how do we attend and what can I expect?

What is an estate sale?

An estate sale is the sale (also sometimes called liquidation) of the personal property from an individual’s home. In brief, Four Sales Ltd. converts an individual’s home into our retail establishment. Once the house is setup and priced, the sale will open on the day and time advertised. All items are available from the time the sale opens. Realize that all items are priced fairly from the beginning to the best of our team’s ability. So, if you see something you like, pay the cashier and take it home.

 Where do estate sales occur and where can I find them? Estate sales take place in private homes under the supervision of a professional company, like Four Sales. Our immediately upcoming events are available on the Current Sales page of the website. You can also find out about upcoming events on various estate sale consolidator sites, like

 Is there a process for gaining access to an estate sale?

Estate sales are open to the public. Any restrictions or special details will be announced on our website.  There is a special consideration, with regards to accessing the sale, on the first day only. Because of the interest in our events on the opening day, the manager on duty will “sign in” everyone present when he or she arrives at the event site around an hour and a half before opening on the first day of the sale. This way you have the time to go for coffee or breakfast before we open. You must be present to be signed in. Doors Open Promptly at the time advertised on the website.

Please note that Four Sales has not accepted or honored so-called “numbers” in over 9 years and as a result has created a level playing field between individuals purchasing for their own use and persons buying for resale.

If we have a significant volume of items in showcases, like a coin collection, we may issue access numbers for that area of the sale until the initial opening rush is past. This will be announced by the manager at the opening of the sale.

 How are items priced?

 Four Sales has a team of appraisers who price the items at our estate sales. Our goal is fair pricing. We want our shopping customers to get a fair deal on great items and our clients to receive fair return on their possessions. Basically , you can count on most items to be priced at about 80% of fair market value. Our goal is to start every item as a good deal, but fair to the seller.

Because we have such a large volume of ever-changing inventory, and because we are often working right up until opening, Four Sales does not, with the occasional exception, provide pricing in advance of an event.

 Do you offer discounts?

Typically items are discounted over the course of the weekend, but discounts are not guaranteed. 

If you accept the premise that everything is fairly priced to begin with, then any discount offered just improves the quality of the deal. The “game” is whether someone else likes the item at the marked price and is unwilling to take a chance that it will not be there when they come back.

We’ve had many, many conversations with individuals who wish they’d made a purchase when they first saw an item because when they came back it was already sold. Accept that things are fairly priced and make the purchase. If you don’t and the item gets sold, don’t worry, be patient, we’ll have something similar again soon enough! 

 Can I buy something ahead of the sale?

Items are offered for sale during the advertised operating hours of the event. In order to be fair to all our customers who follow our advertising and show up expecting advertised items to be present when the sale first opens, Four Sales never pre-sells its events. We appreciate your desire to purchase the lovely items we offer for sale and invite you to join us at all our sale events.

 When can purchased items to be removed from the estate sale venue?

Items can be taken home as soon as you’ve paid the cashier. In fact, we prefer it that way! Once you’ve made a purchase, you own it. If you leave it in the house, we will do our best to keep it safe and make sure it is clearly marked sold, but are not responsible for the item other than to ensure it is there when you come to get it.

On the subject of items left at estate sales… The office is always informed if glasses, wallets, purses, etc are left behind (happens more than you might imagine!) and we will always do our best to help reunite owners with their items. The other thing that is left behind surprisingly often are purchases. As willing as we might be, we cannot carry your purchased but left behind items with us to the next event. Please be sure to take everything with you when you leave, or be prepared to return for them.

 Is there someone available to help move my purchases?

We have limited lifting help available on-site at the sale, but have a list of qualified movers for hire available, so please bring your own manpower and an appropriate vehicle to remove your purchases. Our on-site staff will help, time permitting and within their lifting abilities, if possible and at the manager’s discretion. Four Sales accepts no liability related to moving purchased articles if we do have the time and manpower available to help.

 What forms of payment does Four Sales accept?

Four Sales accepts cash, checks, or credit cards as payment at our estate sales. Individual personal checks are not to exceed $2,499 but you can write more than one of them! We also offer credit card payment (Visa / MasterCard / Discover / American Express) at our on premises events.

We also accept cash, checks and credit card (convenience fee applies) payments at our auction center in Madison,VA for our live and online auctions.

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