By Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
Knowing a few simple strategies can give you more buying power and save you big bucks
A more formal version of a garage sale, an estate sale can be a good way to furnish your home at a lower cost than if you bought furnishings at a retail store. You’ll find everything from dining room chairs to hand antique jewelry. Here’s how to make the most of a sale:
Do some sleuthing ahead of time
Check the website of the company that’s running the estate sale you’re interested in for photos and descriptions of the items that will be in the sale. Keep a list of items you’ll want to look for at when you arrive.
Get to an estate sale early
This isn’t a day to sleep in. You’ll want to arrive at the sale before it starts to get in line, if necessary, with other shoppers. Getting into the house when the sale starts gives you a better chance of scoring popular items.
If you see something you really want and can afford, buy it on the spot
Don’t wait until the end of the day or second day hoping to get a discount. Chances are, the item might be gone by then, says Kat Lozynsky, of MTHouse, a company that handles estate sales in northern New Jersey. “Many times people will come to a sale and mention they saw something listed online that they don’t see in the house,” she says. “That means it’s already been sold.”
Nothing says “let’s negotiate” like a wad of Andrew Jacksons. Though an estate sale company will most likely take credit cards, you may get better prices with cash.
Scope out the goods
If you’re not at the sale for anything in particular, take your time surveying the merchandise—after all, estate sales are fun! “If you have a strong interest in something like kitchen items or tools, head to that part of the house first,” says Lozynsky. “Otherwise, go to the parts of the house that have the fewest people so you can really see what’s there.”
Don’t insult the seller
“What people don’t realize is a lot of time goes into vetting what’s for sale, researching value, and setting up the sale itself,” says Lozynsky. “It’s a real turnoff if you make a low-ball offer.” But it’s okay to ask if there’s some wiggle room or what their best price is.
Keep your fingers crossed
Thatvintage armoire up for sale would be perfect in your bedroom but the price is more than you can afford. What to do? Wait it out. “Don’t go in to a sale the first hour and expect any discount,” says Lozynsky. “You can leave an offer that might be considered at the end of the day or the next day, but the first few hours it’s unlikely you’ll get any money off.”
Wait until the sale is almost over for the best discounts
“The bigger the item, the bigger the discount,” says Lozynsky, referring to furniture such as sofas and bedroom sets. “Items that require labor to move and a truck are usually very negotiable the second day of a sale.” If you’re buying smaller items like glassware and clothing in bulk, chances are you’ll also get a pretty good deal later on the last day.