Buying at an estate sale is not very hard, but I suggest you go to a few just to get the feel and vibe of how sales are run. You need to learn about pricing and about style. What is your personal taste? Do you like modern, mid-century modern, antique, french country, shabby chic, Italian, Swedish, Moroccan - you name it all these different styles of furniture can be found right in your own neck of the woods.
I always tell my customers not to judge a book by it's cover - look inside. Some of my customers with the tiniest of homes have the most glorious collections of dolls or of rare books. Some of my customers are sitting on hot, pricey furniture pieces and artwork of which they had just piled up in a spare bedroom. So just go in no matter what the house looks on the outside
Some of the less expensive items you can buy at an estate sale are games, kitchenware, toy's, clothes and low end furniture. Items like designer furniture, chandeliers, sterling silver are the more pricier items to buy at an estate sale. Even with the higher price you will still get a HUGE discount off retail prices. You can buy a designer couch for less than half of what the stores are selling the exact same couch for. You can also buy a dining table for as low as $400 and it's all wood, has style and comes with chairs. At a retail store this same table would go for double or triple or worse be made of cheap materials and you end up having to replace in anyway in less than 5 years.
The best way to shop at a sale is come prepared. Have your cash with you and have an idea of what you are looking for and how much you want to spend. Bargaining is fun and once you do it a few times you'll get good at it. Be fair though, remember the estate sellers job is too get the best price for the item for their client.
Another recommendation for shopping at estate sales is to get on the mailing list of any estate sale company of whom you enjoy their sales. I know we give our "fans' a special hour of shopping before we open the doors to the public.
You never know what you'll find at an estate sale - just go - don't be shy - look around and ask questions of the staff if you need something answered.
Owner of Bargain Hunter Mama Estate Sales