Did you know that there are people that flock to an advertised estate sale on a weekly basis? In fact, they may not just attend one estate sale, they may attend as many as possible? Is this an illness, an addiction, a fascination, a future episode for reality TV?

Some of these folks are professional dealers to be sure. Some are collectors. Some may just be lonely and out for something to do. Many are looking to furnish a home inexpensively. Some are decorators, designers or real estate home stagers.  There is nothing more exciting to bargain hunters than seeing a sign for an estate sale.  But, based on several estate sales that I have recently attended, sometimes the professionals hosting these sales have much to learn from moi, the garage sale gold diva.

I attended a very well publicized estate sale last weekend.  They had ads in all the right places online and in the newspaper. Their signs, even my my standards were excellent.  When I pulled up, there were cars lined up all up and down the street. But the one thing that I noticed was that all the people were leaving empty handed. I thought perhaps that I had shown up too late and all the good estate sale merchandise was gone. I walked in and saw the reason why nobody was buying.  First of all, the items were tagged and organized poorly. Some of the merchandise was thrown in heaps with complete disregard.  Many of the items were more like basement junk, not antiques or heirlooms or items of much perceived value. It seemed as if no time or care was placed into tagging  items. But the worst of it was that everything was way overpriced. Things that should have been .50 cents were five dollars.

This is something that I have often seen at a professionally run estate sale.  Items are priced far more than reasonable.  It is one thing to price items too low, you might as well give them away, but to price things too high is a total waste of everyone’s time, including the professional estate sale agent who is likely working on a commission. An estate sale professional generally will give a free estimate and decide if your sale is worthy of their time.  They will handle all the marketing, advertising, organizing, etc. And you won’t have to do anything. They will generally take between 25-45 per cent of sales less marketing expenses.

My dear reader, if you are even THINKING of having an estate sale, please read my book Ava’s Guide to Garage Sale Gold, which is available on my web site www.garagesalegold.com.  I will teach you many of the tricks and secrets that many estate sale agents don’t even know.  And you will save the large percentage that you will give them.

Now, if you really don’t have any time at all and want someone else to do all the work, do yourself a favor. Contact several people. Interview them. Go to some of their sales and see if people are buying anything. That will be a big indicator of their expertise and ability to properly price, promote and merchandise the items for sale.  Remember, an estate sale does not have to mean that someone died. An estate sale can mean that you are liquidating  many items in a house because you are down sizing, moving, a relative is moving to assisted living, etc.  Estate sale does not mean death. It means life. It means new life to old items.

Please understand that you can uncover miraculous treasures at garage sales, tag  sales and yard sales and can score fabulous finds at sales other than just estate sales.  Also a good portion of the sales labeled as estate sales are likely handled by professionals who may just be over pricing everything and sometimes the good deals are just not to be had and the merchandise just not estate quality.

So, my dear reader, the moral of the story is never judge a book by its cover.  Every estate sale is not the same. You can find estate sale quality at a junk yard or junk at an estate sale.