How to Negotiate at an Estate Sale

by Drew Barton

Negotiating at estate sales does happen and can help you get more knocked off the price, but there are a few things to consider first.

The goal of an estate sale organizer is to get their client as much value as possible for their belongings. At the same time, they want to get rid of as many items as possible before the end of the sale, which is why they will often slash prices if items have not been sold after a certain amount of time. If it’s a one-day sale, it's best to wait until the end of the day to try negotiating. For multi-day sales, prices are typically reduced by 25% on the second day and up to 50% on the third day, so you may not need to negotiate at all.

Since these markdowns are quite enticing on their own, the chances of them negotiating with you at a lower price are slim after an item has already been significantly reduced.

That doesn't mean it never happens, but it's important to come to the bargaining table with realistic expectations. If you are adamant about negotiating, it is important that you go about it the right way. Here are four tips for bargaining at estate sales.

Be polite

This may be obvious, but the nicer you are, the more chance there is of a successful negotiation. Remember that estate sale prices are generally already a bargain — especially after markdowns on the second or third day. This means that if a salesperson is entertaining your negotiation, they are already doing you a favor. Be nice.

Offer a bid

Many estate sales offer bidding on larger, more valuable items. This is similar to a silent auction — you write down the amount you are willing to spend and if yours is the highest you get the goods. If you don’t want to pay the price on the tag, bidding is a great way to negotiate without actually negotiating and potentially pay less than you would have.

Save by Bundling

A great way to save at an estate sale is to consider bundling – when three or more items are purchased at one time. Often professional estate sale managers will offer additional discounts to customers purchasing many items. Rather than negotiate on every item, consider putting all your items together and asking for a bulk (or bundled) discount on the lot.

Don't lowball

Remember that a lot of planning goes into estate sales, particularly pricing items. Professional estate sale companies know what they're doing when it comes to appraising and setting prices. While negotiating is possible, don't waste the seller's time with lowball offers.

Accept the ‘No’

If it's clear that the price won't budge, accept the "no" and either pay the marked price or let the item go. Being persistent and trying to haggle with every salesperson on the floor is not going to increase your chances of getting a yes, it’s just going to annoy the people working the sale and other shoppers. Try to appreciate that you’re already getting an amazing bargain and respect the marked price and decision of the seller.

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