What Is the Difference Between a Garage and an Estate Sale?




To say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure would be an understatement. In fact, it’s the reason why so many people love garage sales and estate sales; there’s nothing quite like rummaging through a person’s former belongings and finding something worthwhile. So, while estate sales and garage sales are similar, there are actually a lot of differences between the two.

Knowing the difference between the two may help you the next time that you decide to take yourself on a little shopping spree.

What Is an Estate Sale?

An estate sale is what happens when someone essentially puts the entire contents of their home for sale. Depending on where you live, people may refer to estate sales as tag sales. Typically, an estate sale happens because the owner of the said estate has to get rid of everything inside of it for a variety of reasons.

These reasons can include a nasty divorce, the decision to downsize, debt, or, most commonly, death. When someone dies, their belongings pass on to someone else who then has to figure out what to do with them. Most of the time, these items end up going in an estate sale.

The homeowner can hold an estate sale, or a professional company can set up the sale, appraising items, and more.

What Is a Garage Sale?

A garage sale is typically held in someone’s front yard and consists of all kinds of things. At a garage sale, you can find anything from a used coffee mug to a priceless piece of art for just a couple of dollars. Oftentimes, sellers come up with prices for things right on the spot, allowing for the opportunity to haggle with potential customers.

So, What is the Difference Between a Garage and an Estate Sale?

Estate sales and garage sales have a lot of things in common. For example, people want to get rid of their personal items and make some money in both cases. However, the main reason to have a garage sale vs. an estate sale is fundamentally different. As mentioned earlier, an estate sale typically takes place for reasons beyond that person’s control.

As a result of these life events, a person is forced to sell their belongings as quickly as possible. At an estate sale, you may often find luxury items such as vases, expensive lamps, and even jewelry. Although you can also find interesting items in a garage sale, you are more likely to see everyday objects you may not be interested in.

Simply, in a garage sale people want to get rid of some items they no longer want or need. An estate sale takes place because someone can no longer keep their things, regardless of whether they want them.

Another difference between estate sales and garage sales is that estate sales are held more like a real store. Typically the items are set up as they would be in a showroom, although the sale may still take place in the person’s home. A garage sale is less organized and likely doesn’t have as much inventory as an estate sale would.

Which One Should You Choose?

There are two things to ponder when deciding whether to attend an estate sale or a garage sale:

  1. What type of items you are looking for and
  2. How much money you’re willing to spend.

An estate sale tends to sell higher-end items. Thus, chances are you’ll end up spending more money at one of these than you would at a garage sale.

However, an estate sale is your best bet to find something incredibly valuable for only a fraction of what the item would normally cost.

Are you moving and looking to furnish your new homes? Then, maybe an estate sale is what you need. Furniture tends to be one of the most common items that you can find in an estate sale.

A garage sale is ideal for anyone who simply wants to browse around or may be looking for some sort of memento from the past, perhaps an old board game or a favorite doll.

Another thing to consider when trying to decide where to go is that an estate sale will typically only last for about three days over the weekend. Most garage sales are also held on weekends but will continue to pop up each weekend until the owner has gotten rid of all or most of the things they needed to.

How Do I Find These Sales?

A garage sale is pretty easy to find as it typically happens right in your own neighborhood. Chances are that you’ll have seen signs posted throughout your neighborhood advertising the upcoming event. An estate sale, however, is a bit trickier to find.

Those looking for an estate sale to hit will be able to do so on many estate sale websites that will inform you of an upcoming estate sale depending on your location. When checking out the locations, keep in mind that the higher-class the neighborhood, the better (and more expensive) the items will be.

What to Know Beforehand

The best way to make sure that you’re successful at either an estate sale or a garage sale is to know what to expect. If you’re heading to an estate sale, be sure to get there as early as you can to snag the best items. Most of these sales will allow only a certain number of people inside and lines can start to form pretty quickly.

At an estate sale, it can be difficult to try to haggle the price down on an item. At a garage sale, however, haggling is the way to go. Many people price their items at a higher price than they are worth simply because of the fact that they know people will try and get a better deal for it.

Lastly, always, bring cash with you. Be sure to stop by a bank before hitting the sales!

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