What Are the Dangers of Buying a Car at an Estate Sale?

What Are the Dangers of Buying a Car at an Estate Sale?
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An estate sale is designed to sell off the assets of a particular estate, or the possessions owned by a person or family. People conduct estate sales for many reasons. Sometimes after a person dies an estate sale converts all his assets to cash so they can be distributed to relatives. At other times, people might hold an estate sale to pay off loans or simply get rid of unwanted assets. Cars are a common item in these estate sales but, as in other auctions, buyers should still be cautious.


The condition of a car at an estate sale is always in question. Sometimes it is difficult to judge the quality of a car from the outside, and impossible to tell the condition of the engine and other components. If you find a willing estate planner or family member, you may be able to learn more about the car or even inspect it yourself, but there is still an element of uncertainty.


Often the most popular cars sold in estate sales are rare or highly demanded models. This presents a problem, because those planning the estate sale may not be experts in sought-after cars and may accidentally misrepresent a car's lineage and make, fooling bidders. Less scrupulous dealers may lie on purpose to raise more funds.


Overpricing occurs when estate planners and auctioneers inaccurately estimate the worth of the car and set the lowest bidding price too high. This means you may pay more than the car is actually worth. With a qualified specialist in estate sales this type of mistake rarely occurs, but it can happen and is much more likely when families conduct estate sales themselves.


Bidding is a danger in all auctions. For an asset that is in high demand, bidding at estate sales can quickly escalate. This escalation presents a problem for bidders. You may find the price going beyond what the car is actually worth, but also feel the competitive pressure natural to auction situations. If you are not careful, you can convince yourself to pay too much for a car of uncertain quality.