Finding Value: Guide to Buying Tools at an Estate Sale


Real estate sales are great places to find a variety of different tools, from gardening to power tools to antique hand tools. It is not uncommon to find tools barely used, in perfect condition and always in the box; or used tools that are generally not in such bad shape and that can be repaired in new condition for a good price.

In an estate sale, you will usually find that the tools will be arranged in the garage or basement and will be easy to take if you can get them first. If you are not very familiar with the tools (especially those requiring electricity or gas), you may find it difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad and to determine if the tools are worth the price they have on their labels. Bring a friend who knows the tools and can help you make the right choice.

Antique hunters are often looking for older tools with a fresh story. Very old woodworking tools, for example, are hot collectibles and have a high resale value. Even if the blades are rusty or the wood is a little dusty, many of these coveted instruments still have a lot to do for enthusiasts who are more than happy to give him some elbow grease for reuse it and add it to their collections.

Here are some tips for buying tools during a real estate sale:

  1. If possible, take out your iPhone and look for tools before buying them. If you use eBay for your research, you can find hundreds or even thousands of results. If you know exactly what you are going to use the tool, power ampage should also be a cause for concern. Will the 18 volt drill do the job or will you need something heavier, like a 20 volt? The more you know about what you need, the less research you will need to do.
  2. It may sound silly, but when you buy a power tool, plug it in to make sure it really works! You do not want to go home just to find out that you press the "on" button and the thing is silent. With fuel-powered tools, such as gasoline items, this could be a trickier business. If you have to put the tool aside and you escape for a gas can, do it. Also check the oil because a tool containing oil or fuel for years could be problematic.
  3. If you want to save money, it is better to make a quick comparison of prices. The same tool used at a real estate sale could be sold to your local home improvement store for the same amount, but brand new. Even if the tool is sold cheaper at $ 10 or less, you will be better off buying the brand new tool. Websites such as Craigslist, Amazon and eBay are great sites for finding refurbished tools and many sellers offer free shipping.
  4. Before using the tools you have purchased for real estate sales, make sure you know how to use them properly. This is both a security problem and the concern to avoid possible malfunctions. If you bought the tool and it is still in its original box and it contains the user manual, you are in luck. Do not be fooled and read so what you think about how to use it properly. If the user manual is not available, do not hesitate to search it online or call the manufacturer himself to request one.
  5. Make sure to check the condition of the device to make sure that the instrument you are buying does not fall apart. Make sure that the handles are well placed and that they do not move, look for missing or broken pieces or cracks. If a power cord is frayed, you can easily have it repaired by a repair shop for only a few dollars. You want to check that all pieces of wood are not cracked or dry to the point that they are not recoverable. Dirt or thick grease will not be easy to clean. So make sure that the tool in question will deserve an important cleaning.

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