Can You Make Money At Estate Sales?

Do you want to make money with estate sales? Are estate sales worth your time and money? The short answer it yes. But read my story and tips for a better insight into making estate sale money…

What’s the first thing you envision when you hear the word estate sale? Is it a nice home that is clean and loaded with luxury items? It is with me every time. Something like this:

luxury estate home

So Brian, can you make money with estate sales or what?

My experience is not vast in estate sales. As a matter of fact it’s very limited, however I hit three estate sales over the weekend, and here is what the first estate sale looked like:

estate sale

Notice that the lawn is poorly taken are of, there are trash cans in front of the poorly maintained garage doors, overflowing with garbage, and the plants and surround fence are in terrible condition.

Also, just down the street is section 8 housing where there is trouble on a monthly basis (section 8 housing is low income housing in California and it’s notorious for attracting gangs and crime, although good people live this type of housing as well).

This time I asked my wife to come with me on this adventure and she agreed, so we hired our babysitter for a couple of hours.

So we both looked at each other and said, ‘great’, this is not what we were anticipating.

So we opened the gate, and entered the patio where there were tables loaded with tools and all kinds of household stuff. I noticed that the prices were fairly high on tools and sports equipment, as well as the regular household items. I was a little shocked actually…

But we ventured inside and looked around. My wife found a tub full of cassettes and she started looking some of them up. I went into the kitchen, and was not very inspired by the pricing of anything.

But next to the where the register for the people handling the estate sale was, was an open door where I saw a desk, and next to the desk on both sides were books and arts and crafts materials and tools.

I asked what the prices where on the books and they told me .50 – $3 for big hard backs. So I started looking them up…

I spent an hour going through the books and videos and scored a nice load. But that’s not all I found. I found some other things under shelves like a watch, and some unopened games which were quite valuable and I got a good deal on them.

Before we left I found a little dark workshop area that nobody was in. There was some good stuff in there that wasn’t priced. But at this point I am realizing that this estate sale is a lot like the thrift stores. They price big items that are well known for high prices, but price the small stuff lower (but not by much).

However, the books and small nick knacks are priced quite low. In this dark room I found a couple of  books hidden inside a plastic bin. I got them for a total of $2.50, and they will return $40. That is just a fraction of what we got, and everything was similar in price and profit margin.

I was really excited! We ended up spending $104, and we will make at minimum $500 from just two hours spent at this estate sale.

So we went home and gave each other a high five. This estate sale will make us money – good money.

I was really feeling it, so I searched for another estate sale and found one that was a short distance away. It looked like it was in a good part of town. So I asked my wife is she wanted to go and I’d watch the kids (I want her to get more experience scanning and getting a feel for this sort of thing – and it was really hot and I don’t take the heat as well as her).

She texted me thirty minutes later and said that this estate sale was in a trailer park! I had the location wrong. So I was thinking it was not going to be very good.

mobile home estate sale

Anyway, my wife spent two hours there and came back with a major score! The mobile home estate was owned by a military guy, and his trailer was loaded with junk in the main room. But then she saw what looked like a den, and she went in. It was loaded with military books and pictures.

She said she could only get through a third of it, but that what she did get was very valuable, and she was right. On top of that the people holding the estate sale were local friends doing it as a favor before all the estate was donated to the Humane Society. Needless to say, she got some very valuable old and new books in excellent condition for pennies on the dollar.

You CAN make money with estate sales!

Our profits from these two estate sales will be at least $1000. But I am confident that we will make more.

How do you find estate sales?

You simply look them up on Craigslist and also do a google search. That’s all there is too it.

How to make money with estate sales?

If you have a niche that you are familiar with, look for those items as well as books and even magazines and books on CD etc.

Maybe you understand furniture or electronics? Or, maybe you have an eye for art. What about clothes? You never know what you’ll find.

As you develop your eye you will find other items that will bring a profit on eBay or Amazon other than books. For example, I found two tools that were half off on Sunday at another local estate sale, a watch, and some vintage tools. All of which I know will sell.

Make Money Estate Sale Tip #1:

You will find that many items are over priced. But don’t let that keep you from looking. The pricing of items depends on who is putting it on. If the people putting on the estate sale are professionals they are going to ask for top dollar on everything, except the things they know about. So look around and keep positive.

Estate Money Estate Sale Tip #2:

Negotiate. They want to sell stuff so negotiate. But don’t bring up one small item that is worth $5 to them and ask for $2.50. They want to move items and make a profit. Ask for pricing first, and then show them that you are probably going to buy a lot of stuff. For example we had three boxes full of books and other items and that is when the first estate sale professionals starting making better deals for us. They even through in a few items.

We hit a total of three estate sales and we will make a significant return on our small investment. Total spent: $167. Total Return: at least $1200 (probably more like $1500 – $1800).

What’s the most important skill for making money with estate sales?

In my short experience with estate sales and thrift stores, I believe the most important skill is having a good eye. This comes with experience, and you don’t need much.

My first experience with an estate sale was not good. My first estate sales was about three years ago. We didn’t find much, except for a bunch of old records that I had a feeling about, but didn’t jump on them. They were all in really good condition, and the previous owners was a military guy. Military people, by nature, are usually well organized, clean, and take care of their things.

We didn’t buy any of the records. And there were also a bunch of old cameras which I know nothing about, but I do know that there are many dealers who make a small fortune with them (I’ve recently bought and sold some Polaroids for a small profit).

I went home and I looked up a couple records and they were listing at a nice profit. But it was too late. So I regretted that.

Anyway, this first estate sale was before I ventured more seriously into selling on Amazon and eBay…

Going to Library book sales, and sorting through Thrift store inventory has helped me identify things that could sell online.

Our plan is to go to at least one estate sale every weekend or every other weekend time permitting.

By the way, I want to learn more about watches and cameras because I find these all the time and I am not sure what types of worth good money or not other than the old Polaroids. So let me know if you have any tips in this area.

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