What You Need To Know: Furniture Shopping at Estate Sales

Yesterday I shared a few tips about furniture hunting at auctions and today I'd like to talk a bit about estate sales. Although they have a similar vibe, they're radically different animals, and there's a whole new set of rules to check out before you convince yourself you can't possibly live without that 9 foot sofa.

1. Be At Least An Hour Early: When it comes to an estate sale, the early bird gets the worm, well more specifically, they get whatever worm they want! There's no trick, no secret to this, just plan on showing up ridiculously early and standing in line. In more prominent parts of town, being there 2 hours early isn't unheard of!

2. Preview When Possible: Since you'll be devoting a great deal of time to waiting in line, if it's possible to preview the auction goods before hand, do! Often times they will preview goods the weekend before, or even the day or hour before the sale. It will let you know if it's worth your time and give you navigation of the house so you can be the first one to run and sit and a chair and yell, "MINE!"

3. Be Ready To Move It Out NOW: Most estate sales will hold large items until the end of the day and they'll usually place a sold sign on it. Smaller items might get shuffled out of the traffic pattern but larger furniture pieces often don't. Just because you've paid for it, doesn't mean there won't be 2,000 people coming in, sitting on it and declaring their depression that it's already sold. Some are nice, others might let their child shove M&M's in it... so if you buy it now, be ready to move it now!

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4. Check Out Other Sales From The Same Company: Although there's always great finds at estate sales, some companies price their goods a little high for most pocketbooks. How will you know what kind of price awaits you (and could waste your time waiting in line)? Just check a previous auction! Even if you go late in the game, checking to see what things are tagged with will help you determine how high they might price other items at auctions down the line. 5. Half-Off Second Day: Remember the first rule? Be early? This still applies here. Quite often the real gems might be snatched up but smaller items that would have been initially priced too high will be half off. This is standard practice for many estate sales that run two-day events, but you will want to be there early, otherwise all that's left are romance novels and cat cross-stich wall hangings.

6. Be Tough with the Pro Folk: This might sound harsh, but you have every right to go first through doorways and not turn sideways to let more people see what you're looking at. While you might be looking for things to fit in your home, many others have booths at local antique stores and they're just concerned with making a profit. They might look sweet, but they can be rather pushy and downright mean sometimes.

Do you have any tips, tricks, or lessons you've learned during your time at estate sales? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

MORE ESTATE SALE SHOPPING INFO ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
All About Estate Sales: A Crash Course & Tips for Newbies

Image: Flickr member Daquella manera and TheLivingRoominKenmore licensed for use by Creative Commons

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