Estate sales offer treasures on the cheap

October 10, 2011 3:08:51 PM PDT
If you think estate sales are full of old junk, you might be missing out on a treasure trove of affordable -- and valuable -- antiques and collectibles.

Some shoppers are hunting for something old.

"We don't really need anything, believe me, but there are some things that catch your eye and you can't live without," Hilda Duran said.

Others are just looking for a bargain.

Estate sales are different from garage sales because -- instead of part of the homeowner's items being on sale -- estate sales are usually inside the home, where most of the owner's belongings from kitchenware to furniture, knick-knacks and appliances are for sale, and the price is marked on each item.

"We sold everything from Tiffany lamps to dish towels," said Dominique Kendall, who specializes in professional household liquidation for those moving, divorcing, retiring or settling an estate. "It's like a store. It's a different store every week."

Most estate sales are Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

"The morning time is critical because Friday morning is when you see everything that is there, but on Saturday there is always something fantastic that didn't sell available. Sometimes your best things are on Saturday," Kendall said.

Kendall says when it comes to estate sale shopping, take your time navigating through the house, scout out the inventory and take notes because there could be a great deal.

Take, for example, a 1920s marble table. The price was $395, but after a quick look on eBay, we found a similar table on sale for $2,800, so buying this table can net you a profit. If you wait until the following day, you'll save even more.

"The second day is a discount day," Kendall said.

In Channelview, an estate sale is in full swing and -- because it's day 2 -- everything is half price. The owner of this home had so much stuff, part of the sale was moved out on the yard.

We found chairs for $1, tables for $15 and an antique sewing machine for $17.50.

"I love it, there is so much stuff to choose from," Duran said.

Finally, when you are shopping at an estate sale, always ask for a better price.

"If they are within a range, we want it to go," Kendall said.

If you are buying a lot of items, also ask for a discount.

Estate sales don't offer set up and delivery, so be sure you have the right car or truck for all your treasures. Whoever manages your estate sale takes home part of the profit -- usually about 20 percent up to 45 percent.

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