Estate Auctions {finds & tips}

estate auction

My best friend and I have become addicted to weekend estate auctions. We live two hours from each other. We keep an eye out for those we can attend together and try to one-up each other on those we attend alone.

When we went to the first auction a while back, I was a little bit intimidated. My grandfather attended auctions frequently when I was growing up. I remember going to a sale or two with him and was scared to scratch my nose for fear of purchasing something accidentally on his behalf.

estate auction

It didn’t take long for me to loosen up once we got to the auction. I started out with a few small purchases just to get my feet wet. Bestie was more of a pro than I. She told me if I really wanted a piece to pay attention to the resale dealers. If they were still bidding then I could feel pretty good about getting a good price because they would want to get a decent margin. This tip has served us well. Of course we are also cautious of being bid up probably because we have watched  few too many Storage War episodes.

Before the end of the evening, I bought this cute pie safe for less than $200. I think this was a good buy. The inside is a soft, buttery yellow. I’m trying to decide if I should clean up and leave as is or paint the exterior.

estate auction

This is a chest that bestie scored for less than $300. It’s huge! The bottom piece is hand-carved and the entire piece is put together with wooden pegs. You can’t tell in this picture, but the hardware is metal with a nice patina (not black). We both LOVED this piece. So that we don’t fight, our rule is that the person who mentions the piece first gets first dibs. We were sure this piece would go for over $1000. We sized up the crowd throughout the night looking for those who would be our competition. Lucky for us, it was one of the last pieces to go at the auction that night.

That’s another good tip for getting a good deal. Estate auctions usually last for hours and most folks leave long before it ends. The auctioneer and workers get more tired with each passing hour. That’s the perfect combo for getting great deals. You have to pay attention, though, because things are sold at a quicker pace at that point.

estate auctions

I’m a sucker for old quilts and these are a plenty at estate auctions. Patchwork quilts are my favorite. Sometimes I get caught up in bidding and before I know it I’ve paid way more that I planned for a quilt. Then a few minutes later I may score an even better quilt for little to nothing.  You can never predict what will happen at the auction. I try not to fret over spending more on one  item and instead do a happy dance that the average of the two was way lower than I was prepared to pay.

estate auction

Inevitably, there is a piece or two at each of the estate auctions that I kick myself for not buying.  This is one of those that got away. It ended up going for less than $100. On the surface it may look like a chest in definite need of a coat of paint.

estate auction

It’s really a vintage Murphy Bed! How cute and functional is that? I kick myself every time I look at this picture. I daydream about which color I would paint it, what bedding I would use and how impressed my guests would be. This is shaky ground psychologically. As I said earlier, you cannot predict what happens at auction. It’s easy to get caught up at estate auctions in the should have/could haves.

Which brings me to a final tip. Let it go. Just because something sold for a nice price doesn’t mean it would have if you also bid on the item. Maybe the person who bought this was willing to pay a very high price to get the piece. Maybe it was broken. This is the absolute hardest tip for me to follow because I have a tendency to obsess.

Have you been to any estate auctions? What are your tips for getting a great buy?

~southern fried gal

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