Last updated on July 12th, 2023 at 08:24 pm

Estate sales can be a great place to find great deals on all sorts of items. You can find anything at an estate sale, from collectibles to furniture to houseware. You may even find higher-priced items such as unique antiques, art, and cars. Here are some tips to make your experience better and find some great deals along the way.

Follow the Estate Sale Rules

When you arrive, get in line, put your name on the sign-up sheet, and wait nearby for your turn to enter. Some common rules include:

  • No food or drink inside the house.
  • No smoking on the property.
  • No walking on the grass.
  • No walking around the home and peering into windows
  • No running. The estate sale company is not responsible for any accidents or injuries of any kind, if someone gets hurt on the property or inside the home.

Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times and must be on their best behavior. Some estate sale companies do not allow children. Check on the company’s website prior to attending the sale. Be careful parking as well. Making sure you are parking in a designated area can save you from expensive fines. Be mindful of the neighbors and be careful not to block any driveways, mailboxes, or alleyways. Often you will have to park a block or two away and walk. Take time to read nearby parking signs around your car.

Be Courteous

Remember that when going to an estate sale you are in someone’s home. It is important to respect the property as well as those working at the sale.


  • Avoid making insensitive comments, and refrain from shouting or talking loudly. The owners or family members may be nearby or present. In most cases, they have recently lost a loved one.
  • Ask an employee to help you properly tag items you are going to purchase as sold. Be sure to only tag items that you are going to buy, as leaving items tagged without purchasing them prevents others from buying. Marking items as sold and not buying them may result in a ban from future sales. Check with the estate sale organizers about their sold tag policies.

Pro tip! Fruitcocktail uses blue painter’s tape with the buyer’s name and phone number.

  • Don’t shop from the hold table. This is where people can put items they want so they don’t have to carry them. These items are sold, and should not be touched. Some sales don’t have a hold table. If you are unsure if something is for sale, just ask!

Come Prepared

Many people show up to estate sales unprepared to buy. Make sure to take these steps to be ready to take advantage of all the deals you find.

  • Most estate sale companies take credit cards, but never checks.

Pro tip! Fruitcocktail accepts all major credit cards, to include Visa, Mastercard, Paypal Discover and AMEX.

  • Bring boxes or bags. Often, estate sale goers are expected to bring their own means of wrapping and carrying their purchases. Companies prefer that you bring bags that are easy to see into. Backpacks are usually prohibited.
  • Be ready to carry and transport all purchases. All purchases must be picked up by the end of the sale. It’s up to you to get any help required moving things. If you are unable to move items on your own, consider using an app like Dolly to hire movers or contacting a local moving company. Avoid asking employees of the estate sale to help you carry your items, as they are often busy assisting and monitoring shoppers.
  • Pay attention to where you are walking. Oftentimes the grounds can be uneven or homes have steep stairs without proper railing.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that are suited to the weather and prevent trips, slips and falls. Avoid high heels.

Estate Sale Buying Tips!

While many estate sales differ, here are some tips that may help you find what you are looking for at the best possible price.

  • Don’t wait, hot items sell fast! Going right after opening on the first day gives you the opportunity to see everything before others have combed through and purchased all the hot items.
  • Don’t try and low-ball. Haggling is frowned upon the first day of the sale. Instead…. If there are items you want, but won’t pay the asking price for, come back on the last day. If the items are unsold, they are likely to be discounted by as much as 50%.
  • Make sure and inspect items carefully before purchasing. All sales will be final, and it your responsibility to know what you are buying.
  • For higher priced items (over $100), leave a written offer with the estate sale staff

In all cases, be courteous to the estate sale employees. Being kind can go a long way with the cashier. Demanding prices or suggesting an item is overpriced will not result in you getting a lower price.

Seattle Estate Sales

Make sure walk around the entire house. Although many sales will have lots of items in the front rooms, there will also be items in cupboards, drawers, closets, basements, garages and sheds. These areas are all fair game, unless marked “Do Not Enter”. Fruitcocktail Collectables organizes estate sales in the Seattle and surrounding areas! Click here to find upcoming and past sales.

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