The Problem With Estate Sales (in Bel Air, at least)

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a sign for an estate sale. In Bel Air.
Now, I’m pretty nosey, so half the time, I want to go to an estate sale just to see the house and get some ideas for the dream home I’m building…

in my imagination.

Okay, so, I made a u-turn and drove up the windey roads, past the point where I thought I was probably lost and ended up at this estate sale.

What did I find?

A lot of marked up prices and a lot of junk. I mean, not in a “hoarder” way, and I’m sure a lot of the stuff was a lot cheaper than you would find at a boutique, but it was clearly worn. I mean, like, you-need-to-rehab-it-before-use worn. And a lot of the stuff I thought you could find at a thrift shop in the south for about a quarter of the price. (Oh, the good old south.)

Here are a couple of my favorite finds:

I liked this nightstand.

I liked this nightstand, but $450 for the pair is just too much. That’s $225 each, and they’ve obviously got a lot of wear and tear.

Hardware detail. So cool!

Hardware detail. So cool!

I like the shape and size of this chair, but it isn't anything special. See what I mean about needing to be rehabbed?

I like the shape and size of this chair, but it isn’t anything special for $400. See what I mean about needing to be rehabbed?

This couch was cute but had major water damage.

This couch was cute but had major water damage. I didn’t even bother asking about the price.

$75 for this telephone table!??! I MIGHT pay $15!

$75 for this telephone table!??! I MIGHT pay $15!
I think it would be really cute painted bright yellow.

Seemed to me that they were including sentimental value when marking prices.

Will I be going to any more estate sales? Yes, but mainly to get ideas and look at the homes!

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5 thoughts on “The Problem With Estate Sales (in Bel Air, at least)

  1. Those prices are ridiculous! Do you know if the estate sale was run by the family or by an professional estate company? And you’re right about the pricing being high in L.A., you would NEVER see that kind of pricing for furniture at an estate sale in the south or the midwest!! You definitely get more bang for you buck in other parts of the country if you’re looking to invest in nice vintage furniture, CA just isn’t a good market for vintage! Sucks though because some of the coolest vintage pieces are found out there!! ❤ LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  2. I run estate sales for a living, so I understand about pricing. You are absolutely right about prices being higher in areas like Bel Air. You know why? Because they can get that much for items sold there, that’s why! Not always, of course, but often. Trust me, which ever company did the sale, I’m sure they researched the prices before putting them on the furniture. Try going on the last day of the sale, though, because if those items didn’t sell the first day, they will likely be at least half off the last day. Since I do estate sales throughout Southern California and Arizona, I’ve learned that each area is different. I can get more for items sold in Westwood than I can for something similar sold in Norwalk, and I almost have to give away similar items in AZ. As the saying goes: you charge what the market will bear. So, don’t give up on estate sale in California just yet. Try some other neighborhoods if you are searching for bargains. Look on Craigslist and Estatesales.net to see pictures of items that are being offered at the sales. Don’t be afraid to try bargaining with the sale company: the worst they’ll do is say no, and they might say yes. But be reasonable in your offer. Just because YOU don’t think something is worth more than $15, doesn’t mean it isn’t.

    • Great point. Estate sales will have different pricing based on the location. They are an awesome way to decorate your home with quality pieces for less.

      I didn’t mean to say that some items are worth less than what they’re selling for, I meant that I had seen similar items offered at better prices elsewhere. Just because you can buy a small table at Goodwill for $15 doesn’t mean it is only worth $15.
      Also, when I am looking at items, I calculate the cost of fixing them up into the price. The price of materials and the amount of time that I will have to spend making it what I want it to be drive up a $15 buy to being much more costly.

      That being said, I love estate sales, and am a huge advocate of everyone checking out at least one. Even if I’m not planning on buying something that day, walking through is a real treat. You just never know what you’ll find.

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