The Real Difference Between a Yard Sale and Estate Sale

There's nothing like a yard sale to get the house organized. But what is a yard sale vs. estate sale? Or what about a garage sale vs. estate sale? Here's how to tell the difference.

Yard saleAlexey Stiop/Shutterstock

Nearly everyone has hidden treasures hiding in their home, and some can be worth big bucks. The question is: If you have stuff that you’d be happy to part with, what kind of sale should you have?

Yard sale vs garage sale

There’s no real difference between a yard sale and a garage sale (also called a tag sale or rummage sale). Each involves a homeowner selling items they no longer want. Some take place in the garage. Some take place in the yard. Some take place in the house. It really depends on the home’s layout and how much the homeowner is trying to sell. Here are 21 things you should never buy at a garage sale.

Yard sale vs estate sale

The bigger difference is between a garage sale and estate sale (or yard sale vs estate sale). As Westchester real estate broker, Stacey Sporn, explains to Reader’s Digest, “A yard sale is done by the owner of the house. And an estate sale is when you hire a person or company that does this.” You would tend to choose yard sale vs estate sale when you’re certain of the value of the items you’re selling. Lorne Caplan, founder of Free Home Cleanup, says that it’s worth bringing in a professional to evaluate what you have on hand because you never know if the junk in your attic is actually a treasure. For example, one of Caplan’s clients had been holding onto an old baseball bat for sentimental reasons, thinking it was worth maybe $10. It was actually a collector’s item worth several thousand dollars.

In addition, there’s a big difference in the way you advertise a yard sale vs estate sale marketing. Estate sales tend to be advertised widely, including online, attracting collectors from all over, whereas yard sales and garage sales tend to be marketed locally via hand-made flyers taped to street signs. Whether you’re heading to an estate sale or a garage sale, make sure you know the things you should never, ever buy used.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.