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How to Always Earn Top Dollar in Estate Sales

shutterstock_309462560Typically, estate and yard sales can be great money-making ventures. If you’re lucky, a great find can make you thousands for just a small investment. Finding the best items, knowing when to fix them up for resale, and understanding how to draw down the greatest dollar can make this a lucrative job. But understanding inherent value and when to hold onto a great keepsake can make you into a surefire investor. Here are some steps to get you there.

Become an Expert in Your Field

In 2007, a New York family picked up what they thought was an unremarkable white cup for $3 at a neighborhood yard sale. After appraisal, the cup was discovered to be from China’s Northern Song dynasty — and was eventually auctioned for a little more than $2 million. These are the lottery-winning stories that keep the estate buyer going. Of course, with an untrained eye, you cannot make or even hope for these types of discoveries. The International Society of Appraisers, however, offers on-site and online courses, allowing you to become certified in the study of appraisal or simply to gain key knowledge in the field. Make yourself an expert in your field to better catch the best income-generating, for-sale items.

There’s an App for That

Nothing beats education and knowledge, but until you receive proper instruction, there’s an app for that. Worthpoint is an online antiquing community with desktop and mobile databases, which will help you appraise items on the fly. Worthpoint also boasts a library of nearly 5,000 articles and 1,000 books on various topic. Of course, the downside of using this — or any other app — is that it’s available to the general public, giving everyone the same ability to learn these new tricks of the trade.

Fix it Up

Now that you’ve made a good discovery, you may want to renovate it for resale. This is especially true for cars and other high-ticket items. For classic automobiles, you may want to use authentic replacement parts if possible. Since you don’t generally use classic tires on a car, make sure to purchase high-quality tires at an affordable price so you don’t cut into your profits. When repainting the vehicle, do some research and be certain to choose a color that was available when the vehicle was originally manufactured.

Learn How to Negotiate

If this is your sole business opportunity, then, at some point, you’ll need to sell items at a profit. For small items, you have the ability to sell them through online avenues like eBay or Antique Trader. For larger, more valuable items, you will need to negotiate directly with the buyer. Entrepreneur magazine offers three rules to negotiation, with the last and most important being “keep your cool.” You must understand what you need and want from the sale and divorce it from your personal feelings. If you need to sell it fast, then the price should be lower to account for wiggle room. Better understanding how to negotiate will allow you to be happier and more comfortable — after all, it’s all part of the negotiation process.

Holding Onto Assets

Sometimes the market is not prime for selling, so you may want to hold onto a specific item you know or believe has value. If you’re someone who understands market conditions and product value, then you’re moving into the realm of an investor. In the investing world, these are called “alternative investments,” and they have some unique goals, rules and benefits. But make sure to do some research on investing before you make this decision.

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