Helpful Tips To Figure Out If A Price Is Fair At An Estate Sale

Estate sales are great places to score antique furniture, one-of-a-kind artwork, artisanal figurines, vintage clothes, and other home decor pieces. While the sale is usually a feast for the eyes and a dream come true for thrifters and resellers, how do you figure out if the price is fair at an estate sale? Sure, the various items will be tagged per their perceived value, but how do you — a shopper — confirm if the rate is right to avoid getting ripped-off? The first thing to do is inspect the article you're interested in to determine its condition. Then, you can find out more about the item online.

Suppose a wooden cabinet catches your eye. To work out if the affixed rate is justified, view the furniture through critical eyes to find out if the item is antique or fairly-new. An antique piece of furniture with original woodwork might have a higher asking price to account for its immaculate artistry. Additionally, consider its condition to decide if you'll have to dedicate significant time and effort to restore it to its former glory. However, if you're dealing with something like artwork where the price depends on the value a beholder perceives (unless it's an original Goya or Picasso), buy the piece only if you like it and think the tag is just. That being said, you don't have to guesstimate the cost for each piece. Instead, you can turn to online resources to verify an item's value.

Check online sources and consider the sale's location

Besides considering the piece's condition, you can turn to online sources like eBay to find out the actual market price for similar items. Follow this up by checking if the sale articles are priced justifiably. Generally, items are marked around 10% to 30% less than their retail or online rate at an estate sale. Sellers adopt this fair market value strategy to attract more buyers to their estate sale and make it worth their while. After all, why would someone wait in line for hours or sift through numerous things to find hidden treasures without any incentive? They'd simply pop in a retail (or antique) shop or order the piece online. Other free online sources include and Antique Road Show Archives. Specialty Facebook Groups and a simple Google search will also help you out in a bind. 

The location of the sale and the associated demand will also influence the cost of goods. To illustrate, places with a higher cost of living will have items listed at a slightly-higher rate than areas with a relatively cheap cost of living. Similarly, the demand for an article will also sway its price. For instance, waterproof and skid-free boots will have a higher rate in areas that experience frequent rainfalls than places with a year-round sunny climate. Considering these factors, you'll be more informed to better judge the asking price.

Don't be afraid to negotiate

Once your online research yields that the rates are fair at an estate sale, you have two choices. You can either pay the asking price and take the item home, or you can negotiate. But being brash, making snide remarks about the people running the sale, and belittling the piece you want to buy will hardly help your case. Be courteous, respectful, and understanding while negotiating to witness the magic unfold.

Determine the maximum price you're willing to pay for an item before you march to the checkout counter. Then, discreetly ask if they'd be willing to sell the piece at a lower rate than listed. It's a good idea to kick off the negotiation round by offering a lower rate than the maximum you're willing to go. Often, the seller would counter your offer, and if the revised price is below your maximum, you get to save money on incredible estate sales finds. However, if the seller isn't amenable to your offer, be prepared for the rejection and walk away without creating a scene. Another great way to save money is to request a discount when buying things in bulk. Paying in cash, purchasing items on the last day of the sale, and looking out for discounts will also help you score great deals.