Estate sales are a bargain and antique shopper’s dream come true. They happen when the owner of an estate passes away or decides to drastically downsize. An entire house gets turned into a secondhand store.
Everything you can touch is up for grabs. Sometimes even the house itself is for sale!
Visit a few estate sales this weekend and you could discover extraordinary deals on:
- Silverware. Entire sets of real silver can often be had for far below replacement value.
- Large Furniture. Solid wood tables, dressers, bed frames, and armoires, lovingly cared for, available at prices worthy of IKEA.
- Dishware. From meat-and-potatoes to fine china.
- Glassware. Crystal goblets, basic tumblers, and everything in between, for as little as $1 apiece.
- Jewelry. With the sentimental pieces picked out by heirs, the remaining collection could be a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind ornaments.
- … and much, much more. Just about anything you could think of.
Estate sales are usually open to the public, but not always easy to find. Here are True Legacy Homes’ 7 Ways to Find Estate Sales in San Diego.
- Online Directories
- The EstateSales.net Mobile App
- Craigslist San Diego
- Local Newspapers
- Estate Sale Companies
- Social Media
- Street Signs
1. Online Directories
You can find everything online. Estate sales are no exception. Three major directories aggregate listings for estate sales: EstateSales.net, EstateSales.org, and EstateSale.com.
These directories do not cover every zip code in the U.S., particularly rural zip codes. However, as the eighth-most populous city in the country, San Diego has nothing to worry about. You’re guaranteed to find estate sales in San Diego using the above websites.
If you would rather narrow your search down from three directories to one directory, EstateSales.net is the one to choose. Of the big three sites, more estate sale liquidators (professional companies that run estate sales in exchange for a commission on sold items) use EstateSales.net.
Visit the sites, and it’s easy to see why. Like the Sesame Street game “One of These Things is Not Like the Other,” EstateSales.net stands out for its attractive design, modern user experience, mobile optimization, and advanced search capabilities. Use the search bar at the top to target all of San Diego, or any suburb or specific zip code.
EstateSales.org and EstateSale.com, by contrast, practically look like antiques themselves.
Whether it became more popular because of its better UX, or it can afford better UX because it is more popular, EstateSales.net is the key player in this space.
Whichever site you choose, upon finding an appealing listing you will discover:
- The address of the sale.
- Dates and times for the sale.
- Pictures of merchandise.
- Written descriptions of merchandise.
2. The EstateSales.net Mobile App
As the dominant player in the space, EstateSales.net is first to the market with a mobile app. Available for Android as well as for iOS devices like iPhone and iPad, the EstateSales.org app offers all the advanced search functions of the website in a convenient mobile interface.
The app also boasts extra features. By enabling notifications, the app can immediately notify you of nearby estate sales when the listings get posted on EstateSales.net. The app can tell you which sales are closest to you, add sale dates to your calendar, and provide GPS directions to the nearest sale or any sale you choose.
3. Craigslist San Diego
The popular online bulletin board sandiego.craigslist.org is a wealth of user-generated local information.
Craigslist can be particularly useful to discover estate sales being held by the estate owner, executor, or trustee instead of by a professional liquidator. A DIY seller may not bother to list the sale on EstateSales.net. You may also discover estate sales outside of the coverage area of the major directories, but still within reasonable driving distance for a day trip or weekend retreat.
Estate sales will usually be filed in the “Garage Sales” section of Craigslist (here’s the direct link for San Diego). As you might expect, most of the postings will be for garage sales, yard sales, and moving sales. Type “Estate Sale” into the search bar to narrow down the listings to the estate sales. Click “See In Map View” to figure out which estate sales are closest to you. If you hope to buy specific items at an estate sale, you can even enter those items into the search bar as keywords.
NOTE: Not everyone knows the difference between an estate sale and a garage sale! DIY sellers may list a sale as an “estate sale” on craigslist, only for you to show up and discover that it is actually a yard sale. Buyer beware.
The Difference Between Estate Sales vs. Garage Sales
Homeowners hold yard sales or garage sales to free up some storage space, reduce clutter, or lessen the burden of an impending move. These sales are rarely run by professional liquidators or evaluated by professional appraisers, meaning insane deals can be stumbled upon. The home is usually not open to visitors. The owner may decide at the last minute that various items on the table are “not for sale.” Haggling is common.
An estate sale is held to fully liquidate the estate of a deceased or downsizing individual. Often run by a professional liquidator, the sale opens the house to visitors. Everything that isn’t nailed down is usually for sale. The owners, executors, trustees, and heirs should have already picked over what they want to keep. Professionally-run estate sales have usually been inspected by an appraiser, with less room for negotiation on price. As such, you are unlikely to discover a million-dollar baseball card or misidentified Stradivarius violin on clearance for $10.
4. Local Newspapers
In rural communities outside the purview of EstateSales.net, the local newspaper is still the go-to hub of information. Check the Julian News or the Idyllwild Town Crier for far-flung estate sales that double as an opportunity for a tranquil mountain getaway! Check the Union-Trib while you’re at it. The last guy in San Diego without a Gmail account may have listed his estate sale there and only there.
Of course, physical newspapers on driveways are becoming as anachronistic as the VHS tape players found at some of these estate sales. However, even local and small-town papers have websites, a convenient resource for non-townies.
5. Estate Sale Companies
Professional estate sale liquidators list their own sales on their web sites. This can be a great source of detailed information on estate sales not just in San Diego, but all over the region. Estate liquidators are only limited by the territory they choose to serve, meaning the coverage limits of EstateSales.net and Craigslist do not apply to them. Any sale they are hired to run will be listed on their web site.
You can find liquidators by Googling “Estate Sales Near Me,” “Estate Sale Companies Near Me,” “Estate Liquidators San Diego,” or anything else you can think of.
Searching the online member directories of the National Estate Sales Association (NESA) or the American Society of Estate Liquidators (ASEL) can also produce a list of reputable estate liquidators in the San Diego area, with links to their websites.
Once you find nearby companies, browse their listings and consider subscribing to their email lists to get sale notices in your inbox.
6. Social Media
If everything can be found online, sometimes even more things can be found on social media platforms.
The estate liquidators you found in Step 5 probably have social media accounts. Search for them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. When you find their profiles, “follow,” “friend,” or “connect” with them. Notifications of their postings (including sale announcements) will start to pop up on your social feeds, including push notifications to your smartphone (if enabled).
Facebook Groups and Events are also excellent sources of information. Search “Estate Sales San Diego,” “Garage Sales San Diego,” etc. and narrow the results to groups or to events. Request to join the groups you find, and you will receive priority notifications posted by other group members—presumably other San Diego-based estate sale enthusiasts. If someone has created a public Facebook Event for a nearby estate sale, you can RSVP to the event and add it to your online calendar.
Hashtag searches can shake loose other estate sale announcements. Search #estatesale, #sdestatesale, or #estatesalesandiego in your social apps. Websites like hashtagify.me can be used to identify other useful hashtags.
7. Street Signs
If all else fails, “driving for deals” will never go out of style. Pick your favorite San Diego neighborhood and spend a sunny weekend morning driving around, looking for signs directing you to sales. You will probably find yard sales, garage sales, and moving sales in the greatest abundance. However, you may also stumble across a DIY estate sale that was advertised nowhere else!
These are the exceptions. An estate sale is a major undertaking, usually executed by professionals with a vested interest in getting the word out. A combination of the above six methods is almost certain to reveal all the estate sales San Diego has to offer.
Contact True Legacy Homes for more tips on how to find estate sales in San Diego!