Estate sales and estate auctions are a great way to find that perfect piece to complete your room. But how do you find out about estate sales in a timely manner? More importantly, how do you figure out if there is even anything that you want to buy or what you should do when you find something you like? These are common problems for those just getting into estate sale shopping. Luckily, there are a number of ways to find out what you need to know!
Use Local Websites and Information Sources
Many estate liquidators or even independent estate sale holders advertise sales the weekend, weeks, or even several months prior to the event. These advertising tools include:
- Online classified listings – Both professional and amateur estate sale planners and auctioneers place ads in local, online classifieds and often include links to the actual estate planner's website, a list of different types of items for sale, and pictures.
- Specialized estate sale websites – These are often estate sale websites with listings from multiple auction or estate sale companies from all over. You can set up alerts to notify you of upcoming sales in your area. Often, you can highlight keywords to tailor your notifications to find just what you want.
- Online search engines – you can use any of the popular search engines to find local estate auctions. Just type in your city, state and the words "estate auctions".
- Email distribution lists – Sign up for email distribution lists once you find estate sale companies that you like. Professional estate sale planners have multiple sales going throughout the year and are happy to send you information concerning upcoming events.
- Local auction houses – Use your search engine to find out about auction houses in your area by typing in your city, state, and "auction houses". Some auction houses even maintain inventory that you can purchase instead of waiting for the auction!
- Newspapers and community bulletins – This is more old-school, but can still be effective. Look up the classifieds section to see if there are any estate sales being advertised.
Make sure to understand how the estate sales typically work. With the exception of estates that are managed through an online or live auction, most estate sales run for several days out of a house. The prices for items in the sale are often reduced on the 2nd and 3rd days, so you can go back after your first visit to see if an item you liked, but thought was too expensive, is still available.
For online and live auctions, you have to register in advance to be able to bid. Sometimes, this can be as simple as signing up online and providing your credit card or bank information. For live auctions, you may have to establish your credit limit, especially if you are bidding on rare or expensive items.
Once you get familiar with the tools, you can even set up pre-determined ceilings on most online auctions and allow the auctioneer's system to increment your bid until you either win the item or the price exceeds your maximum.