Does Location Really Matter When Estate Sale Bargain Hunting?

It's a beautiful Saturday, and you finally have carved out a space in your schedule to find some fantastic bargains at a few estate sales. Your hours are limited, but it's the perfect time of the year for estate sales. You want to make the most out of your availability. It can be super disappointing to find an estate sale nearby, walk in, and then find that the home is less-than-desirable, dirty, or filled with nothing more than everyday items that are overpriced. 

Because of this, many people wonder if — or how much — location matters. Let's say you learn of an estate sale in a high-wealth community about 40 minutes from home. It's going to take you several hours to get there, go through it, and come home. In that wealthy neighborhood, it may seem like what's available for sale will be worth the drive, but that means you're assuming both that you'll find treasures there — and more importantly, that they'll be priced well. That's not always what occurs. On the other hand, it's possible that your local estate sale will have bad items, but it's also possible that it'll have the collection of just what you are looking for — whether that's limited-edition sports memorabilia or antique furniture — at the right price for your wallet. 

Location can play a role, but it certainly shouldn't be the only factor you're thinking about when it comes to deciding which property to visit. Instead, gather a bit of additional information and then plan your trip wisely. 

Consider both locations before making a decision

You know the city you live in, and you may know some of the surrounding areas. Big, fancy houses certainly seem to mean the inside matches the outside. However, that doesn't mean a century-old home in a rural area isn't going to be packed to the brim with goodies to sort through, either.

If you ask a handful of people about this topic, you'll receive a handful of very different answers. Over on Reddit, u/Richincleve, a liquidator who puts on such sales, shined some clarity on the topic, saying, "I know some buyers who won't go to some sales because they aren't in the 'snazzy' neighborhoods." The user continued, "I've had some stellar sales in solid lower-to-middle-class towns and neighborhoods and meh sales in cities with million-dollar homes. There's good stuff and junk everywhere." By contrast, Room for Tuesday's Sarah Gibson offers a different view, stating, "Narrow your search by location and neighborhood. It's always fun to go to higher-end estate sales in neighborhoods with aspirational homes."

What's the solution here? First off, it really depends on your state, city, and so on. If you have time, go to any estate sale to get an idea of what they are like and what seems to be typical for your particular area. Because estate sales often happen after major life-changing situations, like death or divorce, there's no real way to know what's there until you arrive. However, there are a few tips to help you save time and make the most of your Saturday hunt for great bargains.

Strategies to choose the best estate sale for bargains

To make the most of your time, start with some research. Many times, one of the best tools for finding available estate sales in your community is It's a free-to-you website that property owners, auction houses, liquidators, and others use to list the estate sale they're holding so that locals can find it. You can also check for listings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and if you know of local liquidation companies, visit their websites, too. It's in the best interests of the host to use these tools, since more potential buyers could drive up sales.

Now, continue to do more research. Did you know that each one of these listings often has photos? The photos don't typically include every single item, but they will be views of various rooms and special items at the location. Using those photos, look for signs of whether or not you should visit. Is the area dirty, or do you see mold growth on the walls or other surfaces? That may turn you off. On the other hand, you may spot one of your most-wanted estate sale items, and that makes the decision far easier.

You can also try to reach out to the host. Contact them on their social media post if they are a liquidator or have posted a message. Some will offer pre-view days, giving you the ability to pop in early. This is far more effective in making the most of your time than just basing it on location.