It’s unusually warm for an early autumn afternoon. You pull up to what feels like the fiftieth house you’ve been to today. You’re feeling a bit discouraged, as you haven’t found anything interesting on your entire yard sale hunt. And then… you see it! The perfect item you’ve been looking for all day long! You immediately snatch it up and pay the seller what the little price tag says. At home, your friend comments on the item, now sitting proudly on the mantel: “It’s lovely! I bet that’s worth a lot!” But, you don’t know! Now you’re curious to find out if the yard sale item you bought is worth money!
This situation has happened to so many of us. At Yard Sale Radar, we completely understand! Finding a treasure at a yard sale is such a fun and exciting experience! But once it’s yours, you want to know just how much it’s worth (and if you should be keeping it a little higher out of reach…). Check out our tips on how to find the value of something from a yard sale find!
Check the Condition
This one is pretty simple, but a crucial part in knowing if your yard sale item is worth money! Before you’ve even walked away from the table on that front lawn, you should check the condition of the item you are considering. Look at it from all angles, inside, behind, flip all the switches, etc. Generally no yard sale seller is going to try to cheat the system, but you still want to be sure the item is worth your time. If a piece of it is broken or missing, talk to the seller and find out the story. It might just make the item more interesting.
Search It Before You Regret It
If you are able, pull out your phone while standing by that table. Do a quick online search of the yard sale find. Chances are the internet knows what the thing is and some research can tell you right off the bat if your yard sale item is worth money or at least a closer look. It’s even possible to search nearby sales to see how other sellers have the same item priced. Then again, you might find that it’s actually cheaper sold at retailers, or that the item was never worth that much when it was new. On the other hand, you could discover that the item you are holding is incredibly rare and highly sought after. In that case, snatch it up!
Researching the item online also gives you a chance to look into the authenticity of an item. The item that you have may look great, or sound great, or feel great, but if it is just a knock off of the real thing, it most likely isn’t going to be worth much. For example, one of the most famous and beloved china patterns is Blue Willow China. Despite its name, this tableware originated in England, but is now sought after worldwide. Due to its popular nature though, there are many variations and knock offs of the Blue Willow pattern. But the older, original china is actually quite rare and valuable and would definitely be a yard sale item that is worth money. For it to be authentic though, the pattern must include the following: willow trees, Chinese pine trees, a bridge with three men on it, a fence, a boat, a pagoda, and two birds in flight at the top. The older the china, the more valuable it is. If the china was made in the 17th or 18th centuries in England, it’s very valuable. Now go check those plates!
Take it to a Professional
Maybe you’re curious about how to find the value of something even if you bought the item just because you liked it. So once you’ve made your purchase, one of your first options would be to get a professional opinion to discover if your yard sale item is worth money. Sometimes we severely underestimate a find, and sometimes it’s worth less than we thought. Either way, you want some confidence in your purchase. There are online appraisers that you can easily find with a quick search, but there’s always some risk in that. It is hard to truly tell what something is worth from a picture on a computer screen. We recommend bringing your treasure to a trusted appraiser you can talk to. Emphasis on the trusted. Make sure to ask around, do some review research, and understand the fees for the appraiser before making your appointment.
A professional appraiser will be able to tell you the things about your item you can’t see. They know what to look for in terms of what we mentioned above: condition and authenticity. They will hopefully give you some peace of mind about your yard sale item and whether it is worth money. They could indicate whether you should get insurance for it or put it out at your next yard sale! Another thing to keep in mind is that appraisals change. If you keep the object for years, maybe you pass it down to the next generation, make sure to have it periodically appraised for an accurate estimation.
Value is More Than Money
It’s hokey, but true. What it all comes down to is this: if you like the thing you found – if it’s a treasure to you – it doesn’t matter if anyone else says your yard sale item is worth any money. We all have different interests and things that are special to us and your purchase is valuable to you. Besides, who knows? With appraisals always changing, maybe some “worthless” piece of art that you got for two dollars at a neighbor’s yard sale will be worth millions someday!
Yard Sale or Treasure Hunt?
With the uncertain nature of yard sales, they can often feel adventurous! You never know what you’ll find. There are sales all across the country, like in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, that could hold invaluable pieces. Maybe you’ll find one near you to finally get that missing piece of a beloved collection. Or you’ll snatch up something that your grandmother once had in her home. Or maybe you’ll buy something for a few bucks and find out your yard sale item is worth a ton of money. Anything can happen! It’s just like a treasure hunt! So have fun with it and keep your eyes open for a good find!