The Complete Guide: Estate Sales vs. Garage Sales

estate sales vs. garage sales

Around 20% of US adults moved in 2020 or, at the very least, knew someone who did. Are you getting ready to join this elite group? If so, you may be wondering: how can I get rid of all my extra stuff?

It’s easy to accumulate extra clutter when you’ve lived in your current home for long enough. Luckily, an estate sale or a garage sale can help. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide to estate sales vs. garage sales: which is best?

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started with a deep dive into the true definition of a garage sale. Check it out!

What Is a Garage Sale?

Homeowners sell their pre-loved, unwanted items at garage sales. Instead of taking place at a consignment store or some other retail setting, the seller decides to host the sale at his or her home. 

At a garage sale, you can sell all the things you don’t need or want anymore. This includes your old kitchenware, clothing, children’s toys, sports gear, workout equipment, and more. 

Garage sales usually aren’t the place to sell fine furniture. When you find furniture at a garage sale, it’s not always in the best shape. 

Yards Sales vs. Garage Sales

If you’re planning on going to a garage sale and run a search online, you may come across another term: yard sale. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two. 

Yard sales are virtually the same thing as garage sales. Both involve a homeowner selling their items from their home.

Why is one advertised as a garage sale white the other is marketed as a yard sale? Garage sales take place in peoples’ garages. Meanwhile, a yard sale takes place in — you guessed it — the seller’s yard. 

Another difference between yard sales and garage sales is that the former are usually bigger. It’s commonly said that yard sales are garage sales that spilled over onto the front lawn. That’s why if you’re looking for a wide selection of items to score, a yard sale may be the format for you. 

What Is an Estate Sale?

Estate sales occur for many different reasons. But the most common estate says are held after a person’s death or following the abandonment or foreclosure of a home.

In some rare cases, homeowners sell their unwanted items in estate sales because they’re selling their home to relocate or scale down to a smaller house. 

Antique furniture, vintage designer clothing, and custom artwork are all fair game at an estate sale. Often, you can find an entire home’s worth of items up for purchase at one of these sales. 

If you want to get the best money for your high-end home goods, an estate sale is a way to go. Shoppers will expect relatively higher price tags because they know they’re getting quality items. 

The Differences Between Estate Sales vs. Garage Sales

Estate sales and garage sales may seem similar at first glance. But that’s where you’d be wrong. Keep reading below to learn the real differences between estate sales and garage or yard sales. 


There’s a huge difference in the way you should advertise an estate sale vs. a garage sale. 

There are hundreds of destinations online where you can market your estate sale. For a fee, platforms like even allow sellers to post photos, dates, and payment information weeks before the sale. 

Conversely, homeowners usually advertise yard sales locally. Sellers tend to post flyers around the neighborhood, nearby street signs, and local traffic stops. The good thing here is that your marketing costs will be zero.

Who Runs the Sale

Homeowners run garage sales and yard sales. After the sale, you keep all the profits. 

Estate sale companies or individual professionals run estate sales. The company does all the marketing and pricing before the sale and runs the sale itself. The company usually takes 30–35% of the sales profits.

The other cool thing about estate sales is that they’re usually held inside the seller’s home. Even if you’re not going to an estate sale for thrift hunting, you could go to house hunt for comps in the area. 


One of the biggest differences between estate sales and garage sales is haggling.

Yard sales are all about the deal! Buyers expect that the price marked on the item isn’t the final price. If you want to set hard prices for your goods, you’re probably better off with an estate sale. 

There are no negotiations at state sales. The experts who run the sale know how much the item is worth, and that’s what they price it for. Going any lower would cut into the estate sale company’s and the seller’s profits. 

However, buyers can still catch a good deal at an estate sale. These sales typically go on for 2–3 days. On the last day of the sale, items usually go 50% off or more.

Knowing the Value

Do you know the value of the items you want to sell? If not, you’re better off hiring an estate sale company to get rid of your items. 

Sellers must price items themselves when hosting yard sales and garage sales. This means you can get exactly what you want for your items. But it also means that you could be missing out on profits from items you don’t know the value of.

Estate sale companies will price your unwanted home goods for you. Most companies employ valuation professionals who can tell you exactly how much your junk is worth.  

Get Ready to Move With an Estate Sale or Garage Sale

When it comes to estate sales vs. garage sales, the biggest difference is who hosts the sale. Homeowners host garage and yard sales themselves. Meanwhile, estate sale professionals put on estate sales.