Turning your garage sale addiction into an income source!

Can You Make Money Running Estate Sales?

by Debra Karplus

You enjoy Saturday mornings, visiting nearby garage sales. You've held some yard sales at your house over the years. It is fun and entertaining, and you meet interesting people. Plus, you take pleasure in getting rid of old no-longer-used belongings while earning some extra spending money. You've even helped some of your friends prepare for their garage sales and you find that enjoyable. Estate sales are especially interesting to you. There's much more to look at and many of the items appear to be more upscale. Recently, it's occurred to you that you might enjoy organizing, preparing for, and hosting estate sales for others. So you wonder what does it involve and how much can you earn running estate sales?

On GarageSaleMillionaire.com, the distinction between garage sales versus estate sales is explained. Garage sales typically include an assortment of unused items, opposed to estate sales which typically include the sale of entire household's worth of small and larger treasures like furniture because a person is deceased, moving far, or doing some major downsizing. The site also states that the seller typically gets about 30-50% of the proceeds and needs to be figured into the amount when doing pricing.

Insider Report: Running Estate Sales

Get your starting logistics in place first.

You will have a household of goodies to sell. It may be nice stuff, but not a lot of it. Perhaps you can combine more than one household of sale items, and bring them all to the house with the best location that's conducive to a large sale in terms of accessibility and parking. Then select a date for the sale that doesn't conflict with a major event in the area, such as a well-attended sports event. If you live in an area where winters can be snowy, try to schedule before cold and potentially icy weather sets in; you will have a better-attended and much safer sale.

Plan to work hard physically before the sale.

Unless you are very strong or have more stamina that most people, you may want to hire a helper who can do heavy lifting and bending, can carry large items up and down stairs, and can climb ladders or handle heights if needed. Determine if this helper will be paid as an independent contractor or as an employee, in which case you need to take required federal and state taxes out of their paycheck and also do required reporting to the government taxing bodies, as all businesses must do.

The seller will need to show you exactly what items are for sale, and if certain items in the home are not for sale, they need to be removed or put into a room that is locked up during the sale.

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Marketing your sale items involves many hours and much work.

You will need to dust off all items and display them in ways that maximizes appeal to shoppers. If your sale will be in a house with many rooms, try to keep kitchen items in the kitchen, outdoor items in the garage or on the porch, and so on.

One of the most challenging and tedious parts of the job is pricing. If you end up running estate sales frequently and ultimately do this as an income-producing business, the pricing will involve less research and will become more intuitive. But until that happens, prepare to search online at various auction sites to get an idea of how to price certain items, especially large furniture, antiques, and collector's items.

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When pricing, take into account the percent that you will take from all items that sell. Also, find out from your county the requirement for collecting, reporting, and paying sales tax. If you must charge sales tax, then add that into the price of each item. Ultimately, like anything being sold, you want to charge as much as the market will allow, but not so much that nobody wants to buy your items.

Be prepared for the days of the sale.

Estate sales typically run for two to three days, such as a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Long before the sale, you should have consulted an insurance company to make sure you are covered for any "what-ifs," such as a customer getting cut on a sharp tool or falling down a flight of stairs.

Additionally, you probably want to hire a few people for help customers haul large purchases to their truck and to help collect cash.

Reviewed February 2018

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Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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