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Estate sales for beginners

Estate sales are a great source for eBay inventory.
Estate sales are a great source for eBay inventory.

Estate sales can be a great source of inventory for eBay sellers, but some sellers have not ventured into this realm because of fear or inexperience. Horror stories of long lines of people pushing, shoving, or tackling each other to get valuable items are all over the internet and made worse on reality TV shows. Also, some sellers assume prices will be too high to resell items on eBay for a profit, and that certainly is not always the case. Here are a few tips for venturing into estate sales.

Use to find estate sales in your area. Many sales will have photos posted several days in advance so study the items in the photos and research what's for sale. Prices may not be posted, but at least you will have done your homework and know the eBay market price. Make a list (either on paper or in a mobile phone) of items of interest and record selling prices. When you get to the sale you won't have a lot of time to think or research prices, so do as much fact-finding about items in the photos as you can before the sale starts.

Most estate sales run for several days, with the first day being the most expensive. So you may get the best finds on the first day, but prices will be higher. On the second and subsequent days, discounts will increase as items for sale decrease. It is somewhat of a gamble to get the lowest price as the sale progresses because the desired item may not be there when you return later.

Bring some kind of shopping or tote bag for your finds, a magnifying glass, flashlight (some older homes can be dark), and a mirror to check underneath large or heavy items for markings.

Don't be afraid to negotiate, especially if buying several items. The objective of an estate sale is to get rid of things. As you attend more sales, you will get a feel for which estate sale companies are more likely to negotiate and how each company prices items. Family-run sales can be a gamble. Sometimes the family prices items low, or maybe way too high. They also may not be as organized as company-run estate sales because the family may not have experience with estate sales.

If you have not tried estate sales for sourcing inventory, at least give it a few tries. As our population ages, estate sales will become more common and millions of homes are full of treasures that can easily be sold on eBay for a profit. Everything you need to make money is already around you.