Photo: Andreas von Einsiedel
Collectors Corner: 5 Insider Tips to Help You Navigate Estate Sales Like a Pro
BY Viia Beaumanis | October 3rd, 2023
Estate sales are a great way to score vintage entertaining and decor pieces at far better prices than you’ll find in antique shops. But the better the estate, the more pros (antique dealers, interior designers) swoop in to snap up the choice items. Navigate them like an expert with these five insider tips.
1. Early Birds
Check estate sale company websites for upcoming events, they often post a selection of premier goods online the week before the sale. For the best selection, in person, attend the first day of the sale. Get there as early as possible; the amount of people permitted inside a house, at any one time, can be limited.
2. The Steal
Keep your money in your pocket or a small purse. Large bags are not permitted at most estate sales to prevent the theft of smaller items. Don’t take offense if staff keeps an eye on you, or asks to see a bill as you leave.
3. Cash Tips
Some estate sale companies accept credit cards, others are cash-only. If you’re interested in bigger-ticket items, confirm that before you arrive, along with the return policy. Professional events normally permit returns on larger furnishings by the next day. In case you get that 1800s wardrobe home, and it doesn’t quite work in the room. Smaller items are sold as-is and 100 per cent non-refundable.
4. Wander Free
The house is usually being stripped for sale so, even if there’s no price tag, fixed objects (window treatments, hardware, lighting, appliances) are often for sale along with anything on the property — garden, garage, basement. If an area is off limits, it will be marked as such.
5. Haggle How-To
Don’t expect to negotiate prices on the first day of the sale. Organizers reduce items by a set percentage with each ensuing day. The afternoon of the last day is where you’ll find the greatest discounts. But also, the least selection.
As the name would confer, this Toronto-based firm handles high end sales; liquidating entire estates or organizing content sales for clientele moving away or downsizing from larger homes. Sign up to receive sale alerts.
Working with properties in Toronto and the surrounding areas, Loughmiller oversees content, estate and moving sales, as well as pre-demolition sales of old houses being stripped of antique doors, windows, fixtures, floors and panelling.
Founded by Beau Kavanagh, from the French History Channel series, La Fièvre des Encans (Auction Fever), this French company’s “eclectic” selection accommodates a variety of tastes and budgets across auction sales, estate sales and liquidation services.
Former president of Hodgins Art Auction, Frank Hall spent 25 years as an auctioneer. Founded in 1979, his company, Hall’s Appraisals, has branched out into estate sales centered on fine art, antiques, jewelry and collectables.
Listing numerous online estate sales throughout the Abbotsford Fraser Valley and Vancouver Lower Mainland, this B.C. firm hawks everything from grand pianos and bone china to vintage toys and home fitness equipment.
Nationwide/Canada and the U.S.
Handling estate sales across Canada and the U.S., this large, well-known company bills itself as “the local antique auction on your computer or smartphone.” Posting hundreds of auctions every day, vintage collectables to vehicles, they sell it all.
A version of this story was originally published on Nov. 15, 2021