Estate Sale Cheat Sheet: a Guide for Buyers and Sellers


Estate sales will make you never want to have or go to another yard sale again. Estate sales are serious bargain heaven and a fast and efficient way to liquidate many items in a short period of time. That’s why you’ll typically see some of the savviest resellers and interior designers at your local estate sale. Here are the top tips and tricks for taking one on like a pro.

Stay in the Know

While estate sales are generally a lot better organized and a source of higher-end goods than storage unit auctions and yard sales, they do all have one thing in common: historically, they only take cash. Aside from the rare gem that accepts personal checks, estate sales have always been a cash-only affair. But in the last five years, bulky, old-school credit card terminals that require a landline telephone connection and special paper have been replaced by portable credit card swipers that are no thicker than your cell phone and no bigger than a postage stamp. To top it off, most are free to order online, offer low transaction fees, and directly deposit money into your checking account.

Square card reader, just one of the many credit card processors for mobile phones, has millions of users. Not to mention how many people those users are servicing on a daily basis.

But there are risks to using this incredibly convenient technology. Cyber hackers are still terrorizing the web. And what they want most is your credit card info. Before you decide to pay for an item on a mobile credit card terminal or start utilizing it in your business, be sure to do your homework and keep up to date on recent security breaches and precautions.

Choose Your Partners Wisely

Whether you’re going shopping at an estate sale or considering hiring estate sale experts, be sure to do your homework. Estate sale companies can either make the entire process stress-free and exponentially more lucrative, or they can be a nightmare you have literally paid money to invade your home and take your valuables.

As a seller, your first step is to research any estate sales company online. Check their Google Plus page and Yelp for bad reviews. Ask for references. Make sure that any special instructions you have are detailed in writing. Email them and confirm that your guidelines were received.

As a buyer, you want to do your online research too. A good estate sales company will provide you with quality goods at a fair price. A bad estate sales company may sell you an item that they know is damaged and let you get all the way home without realizing it. It’s worth it to read the reviews and check out websites. The level of professionalism will tell you volumes about the reputability of the company.

Keep Your Cool

Buyers: stay calm! The best and worst part of an estate sale is the thrill, the excitement, the chase. But that doesn’t mean anyone should run, push or get physical in any way. Period. Ever. Don’t remove sale tags. Don’t hoard items you don’t intend to buy. For most of you, this kind of behavior is unimaginable. But estate sale veterans can assure you, they’ve seen behaviors like this many times. Maintain your reputation and dignity, and report anyone you see taking things too far to whoever is in charge on site.

Sellers: stay calm! Yes, there are hoards of strangers in your house! Yes, many of your items will probably be valued at lower than you had hoped. Take anything you think has particular value to an outside appraiser. Also don’t be afraid to set restrictions on how many people you allow inside at one time. There is nothing wrong with creating a little anticipation outside. Have as many helpers in the house as possible to spot shady activity and help customers browse if needed.

Pro Tip: Some estate sale companies will simply ask you to mark the items you don’t want to be sold. But if that item is smaller than a pool table, you probably want to remove it from the home completely. Or mark one room in the house totally off limits where you can store stuff you can’t live without. You are sure to be busy during the sale and your valuables are the last thing you want to be worried about.

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