In the last of this three-part series on downsizing, let us consider some ways to make money on the stuff that you no longer want to keep. With each of these options, I will cover the upsides and the downsides to help you decide which options are best for your situation.
ESTATE AUCTION: This is generally the first item that is taken off the list but is a perfecty viable solution!
UPSIDE: After you sign the contract everything is marketed by a professional, setup, auction is done in as little as two weeks. Payment comes in as less than 30 days. Every Auctioner is licensed and bonded.
DOWNSIDE: None, really. Your motivation will set what you expect to get. Auctioneers sell products, not the sentimental value.
YARD SALE / ESTATE SALE. If you’ve never held a yard sale, let me tell you that it takes a LOT of work to pull one off successfully. First, you have to gather all the items together. That is no small task for most people. Then you will need to clean and price everything (and for goodness sakes, don’t use cheap labels that can only be removed by using Goof Off!), place advertising, post signs in high-traffic areas, obtain tables for displaying items, have potentially valuable antiques appraised, and sweet-talk your friends and family into helping you.
UPSIDE: You get to keep all the money when your stuff sells.
DOWNSIDE: All of the steps I listed above. But if you have enough high-value items, you may make enough money for it to be worth all the trouble. Estate Tag Companies are not licensed or bonded, so if you suffer a loss, you have no one to contact to file a complaint except to go through an expensive and lengthy court process.
ALTERNATIVE: Hire an estate sale company to do it for you, but know that they will keep a large percentage of the sales.
CRAIG’S LIST / EBAY AUCTION SITES: There are lots of internet-based auction sites out there now, but the most popular ones are Craig’s List and Ebay. Before you go this route, I would encourage you to “shop” the auction sites to see how much similar items are selling for. You may be surprised to find that people aren’t paying much for old Star Trek books, National Geographic collections, or record albums. If you decide to sell through Ebay, you’ll first need to set up an account. Then take digital photos of each item, write a detailed description of the item, and determine your minimum acceptable winning bid. After you post the item on the auction site, be prepared to answer any questions potential buyers may email to you. After the auction is over, it will be your responsibility to mail the item to the winner. In most cases, you set up the auction so that the buyer pays you extra for postage. Ebay charges a listing fee regardless of whether the item sells. It is currently free to sell on Craig’s List.
UPSIDE: You could get lucky and get a couple of people who REALLY want the item(s) you are selling. The competitive bidding mentality can really jack up the price of an item.
DOWNSIDE: Timing is everything with auction sites. If your timing is off and there’s no real interest, the bids may come in pretty low. Also, it can be time consuming to answer all the questions and then mail each item to its winner. There are many buyers out there who have turned over to a new form of getting the item, relisting it, and then filing a claim against you for the item not being as described. Be prepared to take a loss. Plus, many of these sites do not market your items unless you are a high dollar seller.
ALTERNATIVE: If you can find one in your area, you could take your stuff to an online auction resaler who will keep a percentage of the selling price after posting the item, answering questions, and shipping the items to the winning bidder. Try your local phone book or Google to find an auction resaler in your area.
CONSIGNMENT: One of my favorite ways to make money on used household goods and nice clothing is through consignment stores. All you have to do is set up an account with the store and drop your items off. Check with these store for more info on their policies and the percentage of the sales that they keep. Normally, consignment stores keep between forty and fifty percent of the sales price.
UPSIDE: It is easy and convenient to make some money off your castaways if you have a good consignment store nearby.
DOWNSIDE: Most consignment stores can afford to be very particular about the quality of their inventory, so do not be surprised if they turn down some of your items. Also, you generally have no control over the price of the item, and the price goes down if the item does not sell within a set amount of time. Some inconspicuous stores will take the consignment, and conveniently “Lose the paperwork” and not pay you after. BEWARE.
ALTERNATIVE: If you have a large quantity of high-quality antiques and collectibles, it may be more cost-effective to rent your own space in one of the antique consignment malls.
CLASSIFIED ADS: The last alternative that I sometimes suggest to my organizing clients is that they advertise in their local newspaper’s classified section.
UPSIDE: You control the price and you get to keep the full sales amount.
DOWNSIDE: Strangers will be coming to your home. I generally do not recommend this option to my elderly or single female clients.
In this three-part series on Downsizing, I have given you some steps to get you started on the purging process, some ideas about where to donate the things you no longer need, and now some ways to make a few bucks along the way. Just remember, the ultimate goal when downsizing it to purge what you no longer love and what is no longer serving you. Let these things go to make space for a calmer, less chaotic home.