10 Things You Should Never Buy at an Estate Sale

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Estate sales, also known as tag sales in some regions, often promise a treasure trove of items, from vintage furniture and unique collectibles to everyday household items.

While these sales can be a paradise for bargain hunters and antique enthusiasts, not everything is a wise or safe purchase. There are some items you would be better off skipping.

What is an Estate Sale?

An estate sale is a sale of the personal property, including household items, antiques, jewelry, art, collectibles, and sometimes even real estate, of someone who has passed away or needs to liquidate their belongings.

These sales are typically conducted by professionals who specialize in such sales and may occur over multiple days. A garage sale, on the other hand, is a casual event held by homeowners to sell unwanted personal items, often from their garage or yard. It’s typically more informal, smaller in scale, and doesn’t usually involve the complete liquidation of a person’s belongings. Here are some items you should think twice about before buying:

1. Mattresses and Bedding

While vintage bed frames might be a great find, mattresses and bedding can harbor bed bugs, mites, and other pests. Apart from the hygienic concerns, older mattresses might not offer the support and comfort needed for a good night’s sleep.

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2. Helmets

Helmets, whether for biking, motorcycling, or other sports, are designed to protect the wearer from a single impact. It’s nearly impossible to discern if a second-hand helmet has been compromised, so it’s best to buy a new one to ensure your safety.

3. Personal Care Items

Items like razors, makeup, creams, or lotions can carry bacteria or may have deteriorated over time. Even if they appear unused, the risk of contamination or inefficacy makes these a no-go.

4. Children’s Car Seats

Safety standards for children’s car seats have evolved significantly over the years. A second-hand car seat might not only be outdated but could also have suffered damage that isn’t visible to the naked eye, compromising its safety features.

5. Electrical Appliances

Vintage electrical appliances might be aesthetically appealing, but their internal wiring could be outdated or even hazardous. Modern safety standards might not apply to older models, so they could pose fire or electrocution risks.

6. Shoes

Used shoes have conformed to the previous owner’s foot shape and walking pattern. Even if they seem in good condition, they might not offer the proper support and can even lead to foot or posture problems.

7. Baby Cribs

Like car seats, safety standards for baby cribs have changed over the years. Older models might have wider gaps, hazardous paint, or design flaws that could put a baby at risk.

8. Tires

Old or used tires can be a safety hazard. The rubber deteriorates, reducing grip and increasing the risk of blowouts. Even if they appear unused, there’s no easy way to determine their storage conditions or age.

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9. Canned Goods

Believe it or not, estate sales sometimes have old canned goods for purchase. Even if they seem unopened, there’s a risk of botulism or other contamination, especially if the cans show any sign of bulging, rusting, or denting.

10. Upholstered Furniture

Like mattresses, upholstered furniture can house bed bugs, allergens, or mold. Thorough cleaning or even reupholstering might be required, which could cost more than the furniture’s value.

The Bottom Line

Estate sales can offer some fantastic deals, but safety and hygiene should never be compromised for the sake of a bargain. Always assess items thoroughly, and when in doubt about an item’s safety or efficacy, it’s best to pass. Remember, sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make.

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

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