How To Find Estate Sales


May 16, 2024

I’m Allison.
Design obsessed and self-taught DIYer, I'm so excited to share my journey with you, and be a source of inspiration as well as a resource.
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Late last year I found myself going to a handful of estate sales, all in the hopes of finding some Shiny Brite vintage ornaments for my Christmas tree. While I was able to find a handful of ornaments, I also found something else: the power of estate sales. You see, estate sales can help you create a collected home that looks like it stepped out of a magazine (without the magazine price tag!). Over the past few months, I’ve found everything from $10k+ vintage rugs to oil paintings to high end furniture. And today, I’m going to share my tips for how to find estate sales.

Estate sales are a treasure trove for unique pieces that tell a story. But with so many sales happening, how do you find the good ones? Well, my secret weapon is the app! Let me show you how I use it to curate my estate sale adventures.

Lets Get Set Up

First things first, download and fire up the app. Once you open it up, you’ll be able to set your location as well as a radius of how far you’re willing to travel for a sale. I like to set mine to 50 miles.

After inputting your radius, you’ll see a map with sales pinpointed in your area. But hold on to your hats, we don’t want to waste time visiting every single sale. The key is to filter the results to show only the sales that are most likely to have the pieces you’re interested in.

Filtering Your Way to Fabulous Finds

  • Location, Location, Location: I love a good bargain, but I also factor in travel time. So, I usually filter the map to focus on upscale areas of town. These areas tend to have sales with higher-quality furniture and décor.
  • Been There, Loved That: Did you visit an estate sale by a particular company that had a great selection and vibe? Many estate sale companies run multiple sales throughout the year, and some even have a sale each week! The app lets you filter by company, so you can see if any of your favorites have upcoming sales.
  • The Power of Pictures: A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to estate sales! The app lets you see photos from each sale. I use them to get a sense of the overall style and types of items that will be available. If I see a photo with a piece of furniture that makes my heart skip a beat, or a room with a similar aesthetic to my home, that sale jumps to the top of my list! Everyone’s style is unique, so this will be different for each of us.
This house was in an upscale neighborhood, plus I had been to this company’s previous sales so I knew it’d be a good one!

Make a Plan

  • Pre-Scouting: The app will let you look 14 days out. Most estate sale companies will at least have their sale listed, but details like photos may not be fully uploaded until a couple days before the sale. Spend the beginning of your week identifying sales that might be of interest and favoriting them. You’ll get emails if any changes (like new photos) are made to the sale.
  • Heart It: If you’ve found a couple sales you’re interested in, start combing through the photos. Take the time to open each photo, zoom in and scan it. The estate sale companies focus on the hot ticket items and larger items (they do not have time to take a photo of every single item in the house). My zooming in, you may see items in the background that are of interest. Favorite the photo so you can come back to it later.
  • Last Minute Sales: This happens less often than not, but occasionally you’ll see one or two sales pop up late in the week. Make sure you’re doing one last scroll through the app on Thursday so you don’t miss anything.
  • Game Plan: Some weekends there might be no sales, other weekends there may only be one that you like, but sometimes there will be many! This is where saving things you like comes in handy. Start comparing your favorite items, prioritize the sales and make sure you’re using your time wisely.

A few recent estate sale finds from top left clockwise: antique red books, french bouillette lamp, antique oil painting, sarouk rug

Beyond the App: Trusting Your Intuition

The app is a fantastic tool, but there’s another ingredient to the estate sale hunting equation: intuition. Sometimes, a sale might not have the most glamorous photos, but there’s just a certain je ne sais quoi that tells me they might have hidden gems. Maybe it’s the location in a historic district, or the mention of a “downsizing designer.” These are my little nudges to go check out a sale in person, and often, they pay off!

So, there you have it, my friends! With the app and a dash of intuition, you’re well on your way to scoring unique finds and crafting a collected home that reflects your personality. Now, get out there and start hunting!

A Lenox vase from a sale I almost didn’t go to. I paid $20!


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