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7 steps to hacking estate sales

As part of our monthly Neighborhood Guide series, powered by Lyft, this month we’re exploring Coral Gables. What should we know about? Who should we talk to? Let us know in the comments below.

For those of you trying to furnish on the cheap, there’s Bargain Barn. Or you can get that same $24.99 Malm coffee table from IKEA that everyone has.

Or, if you want to get some swanky stuff on the low low, you can hit up an estate sale. They’re like Craigslist IRL or a fancy garage sale, where people are usually off-loading home furnishings that are a little fancier, a little more exotic, a little more of an antique than your standard fare.

No surprise, the best estate sales can usually be found in the wealthier parts of the county. And if you’re already choosing your own personalized coffee blend at Pasion Del Cielo or nomming on brunch at Threefold Cafe because you read about them in our Coral Gables Neighborhood Guide, we figured we should explain the mysterious, awesome world of South Florida estate sales because, well, the Gables is going to have some great ones.

Although it can feel like it’s a bit of an exclusive club, reserved for society’s elites, it’s actually quite accessible. We spoke with Richard Deutch, an estate sales veteran who has been scoping them out for almost 20 years, to learn how to hack it.

Every Saturday morning around 8:15 a.m., Deutch meets up with five of his friends at Wagon’s West, a diner in Pinecrest. They set out by 9 a.m., clear eyes, full bellies, can’t lose. By noon they’ve already hit up two to three houses, scavenging for everything from backyard furniture to antique soda machines.

We asked Deutch for a step-by-step guide to estate sales for n00bs like us.

Step 1: Visit an estate sale website.

These are companies that help someone who is looking to sell some of their stuff — usually because they’re moving, going through a divorce, or dealing with a death in the family. Here are a few: Definitely Fantastic, Estatesales.net, Baron Estate Sales, and An Estate of Mine by Susan.

Step 2: Pay attention to the sale you’re interested in about a week in advance.

Usually pictures of the items on sale will be posted, so scroll through and maybe even google a few of the items to see what you might want to buy.

Step 3: Check the website the day before the sale

This is when the house’s address is posted.

Step 4: Get there early.

Sales usually last two days, Saturday and Sunday. To get the best goodies, get there no later than 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Step 5: Know your budget.

The thrill of the chase and scoring a deal can send you down a rabbit hole. And because they take credit cards, you can just keep on swiping. Haggling during the first few hours of an estate sale isn’t usually a thing. But, if something is a bit too expensive at first, you can try waiting a day because the price might fall as the sale comes to a close.

Editor’s note: The above paragraph has been corrected to clarify how prices are marked. 

Step 6: Check in with your loved ones.

If you live with other people, before dropping a grand on a wall-sized painting they’ll have to stare at everyday, take a picture of it and send it to them to make sure they will actually like it too.

Step 7: Get out of there by noon.

It can be easy to bop around houses all day, but you’ve got a family and a life outside of these riveting deals. Get back to your loved ones and show off your new swag — they’ll probably just be waking up by the time you get home. Besides, by mid-day Saturday, all the good stuff is probably gone anyway.

So, now you’re ready. Go off and adult and make your home look as fresh as you feel. And if all else fails — there’s always the Craigslist free section.