There are many types of sales in the thrifting world. Identifying the differences between them is often quite tricky. You may think that all kinds of sales follow the same drill; and that they’re held for the sole purpose of people getting rid of their old stuff. 

However, the reasons and purposes behind each of these sales are very different. Read through this article to find out the differences between estate sales and garage sales. 

Estate Sales

Estate sales are often held when people want to sell their belongings fast and for the most amount of money they can receive. This is because people who hold estate sales can’t keep their stuff anymore, and are not just voluntarily getting rid of them. Estate sales can be held when a couple is getting a divorce, someone is downsizing, or an individual is in debt. An estate sale can also be for items from a home that has been abandoned or the belongings of someone who has passed away.


Estate sales are often quite emotional as they are liquidation of an entire home. Owners are usually forced to let go of a lifetime’s worth of memory and sentimental items. Either an estate executor or the family can hold the estate sale. Hiring estate sale companies is also a viable option. Estate liquidators, in that case, are in charge of setting up the entire estate sale, including setting the pricing and cleaning out appraisals. Estate sale companies clean, stage, research, and price items attractively so that they appeal to buyers. 

What to Expect

Estate sales usually contain items from the whole house. This increases the chances of buyers to make their best purchases because items that have been collected over a lifetime can be found. There is sure to be something for everyone! One of a kind items, antique home accessories and furniture, vintage clothing, and fine china sets are probably the things that you would be able to find at an estate sale. What usually happens at an estate sale is that the whole house becomes a place to shop. You will be able to enter any room and grab anything that you would like to purchase. Most large items would be marked, however, the prices are usually not final. Estate sales are usually quite pricey. 

Best Deals

Typically, estate sales run for 3 days and are mostly advertised in advance. You may hear about it from your neighbors, locals, or even flyers. If you don’t want to risk remaining uninformed, many websites are designed to let you know about upcoming estate sales in your area. All you need to do is go to their website and find and shop estate sales near you. Large items are usually displayed online so that you can know what style to expect. To increase your chances of getting a good deal, you must arrive early to wait in line and grab a number. This is the case because estate sale sellers don’t want many people inside at once to ensure security. Take what you want when you walk in and be aware that the prices are not up for negotiation. Sometimes, there are bids for large items like antique furniture. If you want the best deal, come at the last minute at the end of the day. That’s when you’ll find items that have been marked down. 

Garage Sales

Garage sales are completely different from estate sales. A garage sale is held when household owners want to get rid of their unwanted items. The main difference between estate sales and garage sales is that owners hold estate sales when they need to get rid of their belongings, garage sales, however, are held when homeowners want to declutter their home and are willingly giving up items. Yard sales are similar to garage sales, except that the owners usually have more items to sell. 

What to Expect


Unlike estate sales, you can expect ordinary items like books, kitchen utensils, toys, sports gear, and children’s clothing. You will literally find anything that homeowners don’t use or don’t want anymore. Garage sales are not as fancy as estate sales and are generally much cheaper. However, you may be surprised to find some hidden gems as you dig through the items. 


There are several types of sales that homeowners hold, however, each of them is held for a different purpose. The main difference between estate and garage sales is that homeowners have to sell or give up their items whereas, in a garage sale, homeowners are willingly selling their items. Since estate sales are typically liquidation of a home, you can expect to find expensive and antiquated items. Garage sales generally offer more ordinary items and are much cheaper.