Flipping Challenge Week 8: Buying Items to Flip From Estate Sales

Today is Day 54 of my Flipping Challenge, and it’s time for another update.

Before we get to my update, I also want to point out that earlier this week, Ryan published a post about his own flipping challenge. He has a really cool goal for his challenge that will be fun to follow along with – flipping his way into a buy-in for the World Series of Poker.

If you want to read about that and why he picked the WSOP as a goal, check out this post.

He also announced that everyone who accepts the challenge is eligible to win a prize package if you submit the details of your first five items. You can read about all that here.

Week 8 Update

The main things I want to talk about this week are estate and moving sales.

Keep an eye out for estate sales in your area.

I’ve mentioned these type of sales multiple times over the course of my challenge, and they continue to be a major source of good inventory for me.

If you aren’t familiar with estate sales, they are like a garage sale except the contents of an entire house are for sale. These are usually held when someone passes away.

Moving sales are very similar. In either case, people will probably be going through before you and picking out the best stuff, but that still leaves a whole lot of stuff to be sold. I don’t know how true it is, but I’ve read that the average house has 300,000 items.

When you go to an estate sale, things will be set out like this and it is all fair game. Some things will have prices, some won’t.

It’s not just the amount of items that make these type of sales so reliable as a flipper. There are other things about the sale that also mean you stand a very good chance of getting good deals.

The main two are the duration of the sales and the sellers’ attitude towards the items.

Your typical estate or moving sale is held over a 3 to 4 day period in a single weekend. By the end of the day on Sunday, the sale is over and all the leftover items have to be dealt with in some other way.

And the people selling the items need them gone. When it comes to estate sales, both the people who inherited the estate and the people conducting the sale have no real attachment to the items. They didn’t buy them, they don’t have any attachment to them. They just want them gone.

Getting Great Deals at Estate Sales

Each time I’ve gone to one of these sales late in the day on Sunday, the people running the sale will take almost any offer I give them. This is especially true about bundling and large items. The large items are the hardest to deal with after the sale is over, and any deal that helps them move a lot of items at once is extremely attractive to them because it is less work to do later.

In the process of going to a bunch of these, I’ve also started to run into the same “hosts”, for lack of a better word. These are the people being paid to come in and run the sale. This past weekend I talked to a woman running a sale who took my name and number and is going to do two things:

  • Let me know about every sale she does in advance
  • Contact me about coming and doing bulk buys on items that don’t sell

Given how successful of a strategy that has been for me so far, I’m thinking that this could be a very useful relationship. The point is, be friendly to the hosts and set up a relationship so that they may be interested in doing something similar to the above with you.

In my case, I think the fact that I have done multiple bundled deals with this lady in the past made her more interested in doing this, so I recommend buying off people before trying to set up something similar.

Bought and Sold This Week

All of my purchases this week came from two different estate sales. I did the bundling technique at both, and I’m very happy with the results.

On the selling side, the majority of my sales continue to come via Craigslist. This largely has to do with the fact that I’ve been buying more large items than small items, so I’ve been listing more of my good items on Craigslist than ebay.

What I Bought

The first bundle I got was for $125 and included the following items (I’ll include their expected value in parenthesis):

  • Griswold cast iron waffle maker ($50+)
  • Kirby Classic 1CR vacuum with attachments ($40+)
  • N64 w/ 16 games and controllers ($50+)
  • 3 extension cords – 125′ total ($25+)
  • Coleman camp grill ($20)
  • Assorted Craftsman tools – drill, jig saw, screwdrivers ($30+)
  • 3 fishing rods and reels ($40)

The total value is at least $255, which means I should double my money on that purchase.

I got a bundle at the next sale as well. I spent $650 total and got the following:

  • Outdoor patio set – glass table, 4 chairs for the table, umbrella, 2 lounge chairs, 2 end tables ($125)
  • John Deere riding mower ($1000+)
  • 3 bird feeders ($20)

Needless to say, I’m extremely excited about the second bundle – especially the riding mower. I’ve been comparing it to some similarly aged models on Craigslist and think it will sell for at least $1000, and potentially $1200-$1300.

One of my goals for weeks has been to start flipping higher priced items (to make more money in less time), so this one felt particularly good.

What I Sold

I sold a bunch of the items I bought this week already, including the patio set, the bird feeders, the fishing rods, and the Coleman camp grill. From the inventory I already had, I sold the binoculars, a recliner, two gas cans, the decorative planters, and a few records on eBay.

Here is the breakdown – including what they sold for (and what the profit was):

  • Patio set – $125 (*)
  • Bird feeders – $20 (*)
  • Fishing rods – $40 (**)
  • Coleman camp grill – $20 (**)
  • Binoculars – $50 (+$30)
  • Recliner – $30 (+$17.5)
  • 2 gas cans – $15 (+$13)
  • Decorative planters – $30 (+$5)
  • Records – $26.35 (+26.35)

*I don’t have an exact per item price for these because they were part of the bundle with the John Deere for $650. If the tractor sells for $1000, I’m on track to make $445 on the bundle.

**Same goes for these two items. They were also part of a bundle.

Current Status of Challenge

Here are my stats so far (plus the change from last week)…

Cash: $332.35 (-$368.65)

Items Sold: 35 (+11)

Items Currently Listed: 17 (-4)

# of days into the challenge: 54 (+7)

Time invested: ~ 34 hours and 45 minutes (+ 5 hours)

Gas Used: 17.5 gallons (+3 gallons)

Estimated value of current inventory: $1750+

Looking Ahead

Estate and moving sales have been working very well for me, but I’d like to make sure I’m not missing anything by not going to other sale types. There are some garage sales in my area this weekend that I’d like to go to, as well as an auction.

I’m definitely going to continue to look out high-value flips. Even if I make a slightly smaller ROI on more expensive items, the return on time invested is still way higher.

For example, I sold two gas tanks for $15 that only cost me a dollar each – that’s a 650% ROI.

Let’s say the lawn mower accounts for $590 of the $650 bundle. If it sells for $1000, its ROI will be about 69.5%. Way lower than the gas cans, but the time invested to acquire each is practically equivalent.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find more deals like that.

What About You?

How is your challenge going?

Remember, if you complete the first step of the challenge (picking and listing 5 items you already own), you are now eligible to win a prize package designed to help you build your business. You can get more details on this page.

If you haven’t started yet and are just following along, now is a good time to do so. Ryan put up a free guide on picking and listing your first 5 items on the page I just linked to above, so check it out if you are interested.

Comment below with any questions or updates!

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