Get Your Home Ready To Sell: Estate Sales, Part 2

Britt Patterson

Last week, we shared a bit about the estate sale process and what to expect when downsizing, clearing out a home of a loved one, or simplifying your space with professional help. For estate sale shoppers, one man’s trash turns into another man’s treasure! But not all items are sellable. And as much as you hope to get some cash from selling your husband's large entertainment center that spans the length of your living room, you won’t. We asked a local estate sales company, Four Sales, what items are the most undesirable to buyers and “big nos” when preparing for a sale.

The big nos (with rare exceptions) are the following:

  • Any Upholstered Furniture. The cleaning requirements to bring these items to sale add too much cost to make any profit worth the work at an estate sale. Upholstered furniture may have stains, odors, or wear and tear that make them less desirable to buyers. Additionally, people may be concerned about bed bugs or other pests that could be hiding in upholstered furniture. It’s best to stay away from trying to resell.

  • Mattress and Box Springs. This one is easy to understand why it wouldn’t sell well (or at all). Mattresses are personal items that are best bought new for hygiene reasons. Over time, these can also lose their shape and support and show wear and tear easily.

  • Entertainment Centers and China Cabinets. Entertainment centers and china cabinets can be large and bulky, making them difficult to transport and fit into modern homes with smaller spaces. As people switch to streaming services and mobile devices, the need for a dedicated entertainment center is also decreasing.

  • Exercise Equipment. While exercise equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals can be expensive to purchase new, they do not sell well at estate sales. These items can be difficult to transport, bulky to store, and may require disassembly which can be a deterrent for buyers. But save those little hand weights for the sale, people tend to take items that are transportable and easy to carry while they shop.

  • Pressboard and Particle Board Furniture (think: Ikea dresser). Pressboard or particle board furniture is often lower quality and less durable than solid wood furniture. These pieces usually have a shorter lifespan and are easily damaged. Estate salegoers look for quality pieces, not something they can pick up at Target or Ikea.

While estate sales can offer a treasure trove of finds, not all items are equally desirable to buyers, so some are best to just donate or toss. Factors like condition, style, and personal preference can all impact the resale value of items. With the help of partners like Four Sales, we can help our clients downsize and turn a challenging process and daunting transition into a smooth process!


The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving the community of Alexandria, VA for more than 30 years.

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