Garage Sales vs Estate Sales What is the Difference?

Last Updated: January 18, 2023 7 min read
Author: Zach L.

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An estate sale is much more formal and usually deals with an entire estate, while a garage sale can be getting rid of some unwanted items for a homeowner.

Garage Sales vs Estate Sales What is the Difference?

Garage sales and estate sales are frequently used interchangeably but there is actually a difference. Estate sales are usually a more professional event while a garage sale is run by whoever with whatever rules they deem fit.

Garage Sale vs. Estate Sale

What are the differences between a garage sale and an estate sale?

1. Items for Sale

One big difference between a garage sale and an estate sale is that a garage sale covers household items and personal belongings that the household owners want to dispose of, but they do not sell their house. On the other hand, an estate sale displays everything, all items (large items and small items) in the house, and the house itself can be for sale.

2. Preparation

For yard sale preparation, sellers will independently do all the preparation, setting up ready to dispose of personal property and unwanted household items, creating and posting advertisements in the local paper, etc. Before the day of the sale, they have to make sure to have already posted the location of the house where the sale is. On the other hand, estate sale preparation involves estate sale professionals and the owners. Owners will help sort items and price items while the estate sale company employees will set all item price tags. Antique furniture and highly valuable items are placed in a visible yet protected area while cheaper and small items such as kitchen utensils are sold in sets.

3. Advertisement of the Sale

Advertisement of yard sales is usually done locally. They usually advertise using their social media accounts, flyers, local papers, and street signs. While estate sales have their lists of devoted clients for an estate auction, antique collectors, and deal-hunters to check on the entire house and the items for sale. Other than that, they have various platforms and classifieds to publish their advertisement. Thus, it is easier and faster for them to gather target customers and sell as many items as possible

4. Pricing

Item prices under garage sales are relatively low if compared to the prices of items under estate sales. This is because the common reason for homeowners in selling via garage sales is to simply dispose of unnecessary or unwanted items in their house. Moreover, most are open to price negotiation just to dispose of their items. On the other hand, they base the prices under estate sale on the fair market value. If two or more customers want to buy an item, they always sell it to the highest bidder. Also, professionals handling the sale set rules to avoid chaos during the process.

5. Sale Management

Homeowners handle directly a garage sale. On the other hand, professional estate sale organizers who receive commissions handle an estate sale. These professionals are experts in handling estate sales so they have lists of clientele and potential buyers to tap, can set their rules, and set prices for each item. In this case, they can prevent uncomfortable negotiations with their customers and can maintain a peaceful environment during the process.

If you are interested to buy items through a garage sale or estate sale, you may check your social media accounts, newspapers, or sale platforms for sales in or near your area. Also, you may check for upcoming estate sales and the next garage sale.

What is a Garage Sale?

What is a Garage Sale?

Garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, etc are basically the selling of house items or secondhand items. The sellers are the homeowners or family members. However, once the items overflowed into the house yard, the term is no longer garage sale but a yard sale. This type of sale usually happens when owners decided to dispose of their things that are still in good condition but they no longer need them. If not, it is due to a lack of budget, a change of house items, or a garage sale for a cause.

Advantages of a Garage Sale

1. Lower Price for Buyers

Shoppers who are looking for cheaper, yet functional items could still find what they need through a garage sale. Also, buyers can bargain the price and receive the best deals since a garage sale is a rummage sale where sellers and buyers could informally negotiate about the price.

2. One of the Best Ways to Dispose of Unwanted Items

Humans frequently buy items that we need temporarily. Also, we have items that we have outgrown or are fed up with using. In order to avoid storing them in our house, it’s the best choice to sell them through a garage sale. You may not get back all the money you spent, but you can free up space in your house while making money out of your items.

Disadvantages of a Garage Sale

1. Buyer's bargaining skill

For sellers, garage sale shoppers who are determined to get high-quality items at a very low price are at a disadvantage since this means lesser profit for the seller.

2. Needs a Lot of Prep Work

To successfully sell your items, you need to have an advertisement strategy such as distributing flyers and posting garage sale signs. Also, if you plan to start this as a business, getting a garage sale permit is necessary for some cities.

What is an Estate Sale?

What is an Estate Sale?

An estate sale is also known as a tag sale. This does not only involve the selling of household items but even sometimes the house. The most common reasons why owners decided to sell their real properties and household items are the relocation of owners to a new home, relocation to a smaller house, death of the inheritor or the owner, divorce, and foreclosure.

Advantages of an Estate Sale

1. All Items Have Set Prices

Unlike garage sales, commissioned professional estate sales companies handle estate sales. They make sure that items will not be mistakenly sold at a low price. Although the price is lower than the purchase price, the estate sale companies set the price closer to the item's fair market value.

2. There Are Set Rules

Though estate sales are open to the public, estate sale companies set rules for buyers to reduce possible crime. Before opening, most request the estate sale shoppers to line up at the entrance. Once a buyer misbehaves, they will be asked to leave. Other than that, they implement a number system to organize shoppers. Buyers with lower numbers will go first. Estate sale organizers will ask buyers who are misbehaving in the house to leave. High-end estate sales even have security guards to help maintain a peaceful flow of the sale.

3. Handled by Professionals

One great thing about estate sales is that by the time the owner hands over the house and the items inside to an estate sale company, the owner will no longer intervene in the process of selling. They avoid putting a “not for sale” sign on an item inside the house. Thus, the heirs or owners should get all “not for sale” and sentimental items before officially handing things over to the company.

Disadvantages of Estate Sales

1. The Professional Estate Sale Company Receives a 25% to 45% Commission

This sounds like good news to those estate sale companies but is a disadvantage to owners because they might only receive 40 to 60% of the market value of the items and properties they sold. Unsold items after the selling period, also may be disposed of through donation.