A lot of people who want to start a reselling business think that you can’t find anything to flip at estate sales. They have a reputation for being overpriced. I get it. That can be the case. I firmly believe that you can flip estate sales finds and make money.
But how, you ask. Estate sale companies can’t know everything. There is a weak spot somewhere. By knowing what to look for when you go, you can shop strategically and find items to resell.
Here’s how to turn your estate sale finds into profitable inventory:
Scope out the estate sale companies in your area.
More than likely there are estate sale companies in your area. This could be a large business operation or a mom and pop company. It is just going to depend on how large of an area you live in and who is there.
So how to you find estate sales this weekend?
Search estate sale websites by zipcode to see if there are any listed there. Many estate liquidation services use this website.
Go to Facebook and search for estate sales and your city. Most estate sale companies have a Facebook page so that they can keep their customers informed about upcoming sales.
Ask other resellers. Get to know the resellers in your area and ask them how to find estate sales. They will most likely know.
Look around in local buy/sell Facebook groups, the local newspaper, craigslist, etc. Families do their own estate sales sometimes so that they can save the expense of hiring a company. Most likely they will advertise it like you would advertise a garage sale.
Study the pictures of the items that are for sale.
If you find pictures of the advertised sale, study them before you go. Research the items that you can identify to see if there any any hidden gems. Every company has a weak spot.
Make a note what your maximum is to spend on the items that you want. This way you won’t overspend when you get the sale and find out the prices.
Also, make note of where these items are in the house so that you can go straight to them. If what you are looking forward to picking up is of any value, you can bet that somebody else wants it too.
The inverse can be true too though. Many times estate sales are full of collectibles that are not worth anything. Be careful and do your research. If you like to watch reseller YouTube videos, this can be a way to research as well.
Show up at the sale early.
If the sale starts at 7, you may have to be there at 6. It just depends on what sales are like in your area. You will learn this as you progress in your estate sale knowledge.
Standing in line for an hour may seem excessive. It will be worth it if you score. Estate sales are known for quality furniture and collectibles that could be worth big bucks. Patience pays off.
Come prepared to shop.
It’s likely that there are going to be a lot of breakables at this sale. It’s not really a place for children. We’ve taken ours but it can be a challenge. I would try to secure childcare if possible.
Sometimes the estate sales company will provide boxes for you to put your estate sale finds in while you are shopping. Sometimes they don’t have boxes though. Make sure you bring a tote bag that can hold the things you want to buy.
They may also have a designated place to pile your items at by the checkout while you are still shopping. Leave your items there at your own risk. Sometimes people will shop from your pile. It’s extremely rude, but some people are ruthless.
Don’t be afraid to look around.
It may feel weird digging in boxes, especially since the person that owned the home is not there. It almost feels like an invasion of privacy because you are going through almost every area of their home.
Just remember that this is an estate sale. The person hosting the sale wants everything gone. They don’t want to deal with whatever is left over. You are doing them a favor.
One of the best scores that I ever got was in the bottom of a bathroom closet They had piled a box high with old snap back hats. I bought quite a few of them for $.20 cents each. They sold for an average of $20 each, some even sold for more. Sometimes you have to dig.
You will find lots of large items to purchase, like furniture, but don’t overlook the small items that you can resell, sometimes for a large profit.
Go back to the sale near the end.
Most estate sales mark down the items near the end of the sale. It could be a gradual markdown or it could be a different percentage off every day. It really just depends on the person holding the sale.
This is the time to clean up. You may not get anything on the first day of the sale. Keep a mental list of the items you would be interested in if they were half price. This is a great way to prepare for Q4 sales.
Get to know the people who are running the sale.
Building a rapport with the estate sale company owners is really important. It doesn’t really matter if you like them. Them liking you is more important. They will cater to their regular customers.
Estate sale businesses will also be more willing to work with you if you have a relationship with the person running the sale.
Learn how to negotiate.
Not every price is set in stone. Near the end of the sale, they are trying to clear out the home. Most of the time is because the home will be sold soon after. It may already be on the market.
Ask if they can do any better on the prices. I have gotten a better deal many times because I asked.
I have also found that there are usually a lot of clothing pieces left at the end of a sale. If you sell on a platform like Poshmark, this can be a great way to get a lot of inventory in one place. Just double check the sold comps, and also look for any stains or damage.
Be prepared to walk away.
Know when to walk away. Remember that these estate sales prices are basically retail. You want to buy at wholesale.
Not all prices are going to be retail. You have to find the items that are going to make you money. It might be that you find them on the first day or the last day.
Don’t buy something just because you are there. Buy it only if it is going to turn a profit.