Ask any old bystander off the street what the difference is between a garage sale and an estate sale and you’re probably not going to get a very wide span of answers: to most people, there’s really not a big difference other than the name. But, in fact, there’s a huge difference between the two and it’s important to realize this distinction if you’re soon to be in the market of downsizing your estate.
How the sales process is held, what you’ll find at each type of sale and the even the reason for having them all vary between garage and estate sales. Take a look at some of the key differences below.
- Organization: Anyone can have a garage sale—all you have to do is open up your garage door, put out some signs and start pricing items! Having an estate sale, however, means getting into contact with an auctioneer in Maryland, having someone valuate the items being sold, setting a specific date and time for the event and, in many cases, reporting sales to the IRS (if the exceed certain dollar amounts).
- Products: People organize garage sales when they want to unload all of the unused item in their homes and typically, it’s a “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” type of deal. From kids clothing to old movies, kitchenware to sporting goods, you’ll find all types of regular household items at a garage sale, along with the occasional treasure here and there. Estate sales are going to have a much higher quality of item for you to browse, however: silverware, art, furniture, unique decorations and other higher-end items, including jewelry.
- Reason: As mentioned above, people usually have a garage sale as a way to clean out their homes or get rid of used items while making a quick buck. Estate sales aren’t as spontaneous, however—they usually only occur when someone has passed away or has to sell off assets to pay debts. In some cases, estate sales can occur when someone is simply consolidating their estate, but often, there is a driver behind the sale itself.
- Duration: Garage sales can run anywhere from a day to a month, depending on how long a homeowner wants to keep things running and how much stuff they have to sell! Estate sales have a cap, however—usually three days or so—to both give people an opportunity to browse and buy, as well as create a sense of finality that ensures people on the fence actually put in a bid.
The bottom line is that an estate sale is much more comprehensive and much higher in prestige than a regular ‘ol garage sale. When’s the last time you had to hire an auctioneer in Maryland for your family’s garage sale?!
Though they might look and sound the same, garage sales and estate sales are very, very different and need to be recognized as so—especially if you’re going to be selling off belongings and assets in the near future.