What's the best way to sell?
There are a multitude of ways to sell things these days. The Internet has expanded the number of options and encouraged creative solutions to sell both on and off-line. With as many options as there are, it can be confusing and overwhelming, leaving you uncertain about how best to proceed. Professional Organizers and Downsizers (like Arange) can help you navigate the various options and will have vetted the best, most reliable and trustworthy providers.
Here are the most common methods :
• Estate Sales – a very popular and productive way to sell a large quantity and variety of items. There are many local estate sale companies and it's good to do some thorough research before signing a contract. Visit one of their sales and see how it's run. Is everything priced? Is there staff in the house to answer questions and protect the property? Is the checkout process well organized and controlled? Like most businesses, there are good and bad options. Most will organize and price everything, run the sale and offer complete clean-out of the house once the sale is complete. Compare commission rates, services included in that commission, other services offered and the rates for those services. Your particular situation will influence which company is best for you. One tip – dispose of trash only if you're having a sale. Everything has some value and a bunch of small amounts add up. The estate seller will have some guidance for you, but typically they want to sell as much as they can.
• Online Estate Sale Auctions – similar to on-site estate sales but instead of a 3-4 day sale, each item (or groupings of items) is photographed, a description written and posted online along with all the other items in your sale. The “auction” is usually up for a week and the highest bid at the end of the sale period “wins”. The online auction company then arranges either for the item to be picked up within a certain time period or shipped at the buyers expense. This is a growing industry and an internet search would yield a full list. The major players are :
but there are others. I've spent a fair amount of time on these sites so that you don't have to (you're welcome!). Caring Transitions has a local office with free assessments. Max Sold lists Williamsburg as a”covered” city on their website, best to contact them for details if you're outside of Williamsburg. I'm very excited about the growth of Everything but the House! Their technology and marketing are very high quality and, due to the size of their customer base, claim to secure prices 3-4 times that of other sites and estate sales. That said, they do not list Hampton Roads as a market they cover but I’ve heard they may accept a sale in our area or soon will. Stay tuned …
• Auction Houses – hold auctions either at your home or at the auction house, depending on the company and the number of items to sell. Most companies auction larger, more valuable items individually and group smaller items (kitchen items, décor, books, etc) in lots where you bid on a grouping of similar items. While these auctions can be appropriate and productive, remember that your results are dependent on the audience that the house can draw to the sale. While there are companies that accept phone and online bids, many do not so it’s whoever “shows up”. Some of the better companies have built up a loyal following and will market the sale to attract bidders. I'd ask prospective companies about how they will market the sale and about past sales to understand what they can do to ensure a good audience for your things.
• Garage Sales – these are familiar to most of us, you see signs every weekend drawing you to these casual, DIY sales. These can be a good option if you don't have a lot to sell, but be realistic about the amount of work it takes to prepare for and hold a sale. I'm not great at “haggling” especially with my own things, so this isn't my personal favorite. We have had a couple of clients who's kids or grandkids offer to do the sale for them but none (yet) that have done their own sale. If you have valuable items to sell, this may not be your best option.
• Antique Stores – local antique stores may be interested in your things if they are unique, high quality and/or interesting (have a great story behind them). They generally won't take everything you have, but cherry-pick the items that will work in their store with their clients. If you see something similar to what you're offering, be prepared for them to offer you roughly 50% of that amount. They will then mark it up to a “retail”price to cover their overhead and profit. There can be some negotiating if you have some reason to believe the item is worth more than they're offering. The more you know about the item and similar items, the better chance you'll have in ensuring you get a fair price. Some antique stores will take an item on “consignment” meaning that when they sell it, they take a percentage of the sale and pass along the balance to you.
• Consignment Stores – there are a lot of great consignment stores in Hampton Roads that will accept your items to sell. You maintain ownership of the item(s) until they sell. When an item sells, the shop takes a percentage of the sale and sends the balance to you. In general, consignment stores will take a wider variety of items than an antique store but still may not take everything you have to offer. I'd read the contract carefully to understand how and when you'll be paid, what the commission is and if there are other potential fees. Also, it's good to know what happens if an item doesn't sell after a period of time, it may be returned to you or the retail price reduced.
• Online Sale Sites – probably the fastest growing segment of sellers is online. There are new options added everyday that help you sell your item(s). Most people are aware of eBay and Craigslist, the rest may be new to you. I've linked to all sites for details on how they work.
With eBay there are local resources like Drop Click that will help you with the sale process. You simply drop off your items, they photograph it, put it on the site, manage bidding and ship the item to the buyer, for a fee of course.
Craigslist can be a terrific way to sell things quickly but be aware that there may be some safety concerns in terms of fraud, etc. If you're not comfortable with strangers contacting you and coming to your house, Craigslist may not be for you.
Easy features handmade and vintage items. Provides and easy shipping service to easily print post-office and FedEx labels at a savings.
Chairish specializes in high-style furnishings from all time periods and styles with a resource guide to help you price your items.
Krrb offers vintage, handmade and second-hand goods. You can add a “Krrb it” button to items you’re selling on eBay or Etsy to reach a broader audience.
Specializing in antique and mid-century furniture and second-hand modern pieces, AptDeco also offers a shipping service.
Next up … Is it better to Sell or Donate?