Estate Sale, Yard Sale, Garage Sale

Estate Sales vs. Yard Sales: What’s the Difference?

You’ve definitely seen the signs as you’re driving around town: “Estate Sale 12-3 pm at 155 Smith Rd,” “Yard Sale 9-5, 3 Blocks to the Right.” These signs signal that a family or a handful of families are coming together to sell items from their home. At a first glance, it may seem like these names are synonymous with one another, but that’s not actually correct. Knowing how estate and yard sales differ from one another can help you decide if it’s worth stopping at a sale when you see one. Read on to learn more about estate and yard sales.

What’s an estate sale?

As the name may suggest, an estate sale occurs when someone invites the public into their estate (home, condo or apartment) to sell their belongings. In many cases, the intent behind an estate sale is to sell as many of their items as possible for as much money as possible. Depending on where you live, an estate sale may also be called a tag sale. These terms can be used interchangeably and are understood to mean the same thing.

While there are many different reasons behind why someone may hold an estate sale, the four most common include downsizing, debt, death and divorce. These four different life events can often put people in the position where they need to get rid of many items quickly. This is where an estate sale comes in. Sometimes the estate owner hosts the sale, sometimes it’s the family of the deceased, and sometimes a third-party of estate executor. Regardless of who is facilitating the sale, there are usually emotional connections to many of the items that are for sale, meaning it’s important that you tread lightly and act respectfully when trying to negotiate prices if you attend an estate sale.

How does an estate sale differ from a yard sale?

In contrast to estate sales, yard sales are typically held when people want to get rid of unused or unwanted household items. While they’re typically held with the intention of making money, sometimes they’re held because people need to declutter their home. The main difference is that yard sales include items hand-chosen by the host. At an estate sale, you’re typically walking through the estate and 90% of what you see is for sale.

Another difference between the two types of sales is where they are held. As has been discussed, an estate sale typically takes place within the estate of the seller. If you’re new to estate sales, going into the home of someone else may feel odd or intrusive, but as many people who frequent estate sales can attest to, you will get over feeling that way as time goes on. A yard sale typically takes place on the front or back yard of the seller. In some cases, a yard sale can also take place in the garage of the seller.


As you can see, estate sales are vastly different from yard sales. Now that you know the main differences between the two, you can decide which of the sales best fits your shopping preferences and needs. Happy shopping!

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