eBay started more than 20 years ago, and according to a 2006 study by AC Neilsen, today there are an estimated 630,000 people in the United States making their primary or secondary income by selling items on eBay. Resellers are always on the lookout for new items to add to their eBay auctions, and estate sales are an invaluable place to find what they need. If you are an eBay reseller or sell through other online outlets, here are three strategies you can use to increase your profits by shopping at estate sales:

  1. Expand your expertise. Many resellers are experts in one specific area; when they go to a sale, they are only looking for items that fit their narrow window of expertise. By expanding your expertise, resellers can make the most out of every trip to an estate sale and run less of a risk of walking away feeling like you’ve wasted your time.
    Into selling records? Expand into selling vintage stereo equipment.
    Is your eBay store packed with designer clothing? Expand into designer jewelry.
    Diversify your interests. The broader your knowledge of different categories and their resale possibilities, the greater your chances are of finding a killer deal and making a great profit through one estate sale. The more you know, the more you can make.
  2. Build relationships with estate sale companies. The business world revolves around relationships, and these relationships need to go both ways. Be prepared to give value to the estate sale company for the inside track on the items you want to find. Many estate sale professionals use local experts to help them with researching and pricing specialized collections. While the estate sale likely won’t allow you to purchase the items before the sale opens, they may give you the inside scoop by calling you first and allowing you to put in the bid on an item over the phone. Giving an estate sale company your knowledge can lead to them working extra hard to give you extra value. Taking time to build these business relationships will help you win in the long run.
  3. Get to know a company’s pricing habits. This step will require you to visit sales hosted by every company in your area. Ideally, you’ll want to visit them more than once. Some companies are going to chronically underprice certain items; it may be because they don’t know the market value of those items, they don’t want to do the research, or they might be an inexperienced company. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to build a database of which companies undervalue the items you are most interested in. For instance, there are companies who price every piece of jewelry in the estate sale for $5 (rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.). If you are a jewelry reseller, you want to be at every one of those estate sales. Use a company’s pricing information when deciding what sales you want to attend each week.


Use these strategies to help you increase the profits of your online auctions and happy hunting!