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Tips for Selling Your Old Furniture

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Garage sale sign posted on street corner Stephen Mallon/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Have you thought of selling your old furniture? There are many reasons for wanting to sell, such as wanting to replace it, moving, or simply needing to get rid of furniture that sits in storage and you know will never get used again. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

Determine Value

Buried treasure status, or trash? If you are selling furniture that is in good condition or you think is valuable, get an idea of how much it is worth. Do you own antiques that belong to a period valued by collectors? Do you know if your furniture was made by a famous manufacturer?

Even if your furniture is not old enough to be classified as antique or have value as a collectors’ item, it is still worth something. Consider how much you paid for it, who manufactured it and its present condition.

In case of antiques or valuable collections, consult pricing guides at your library. In either case, visiting local consignment stores and looking at newspaper and internet ads for similar objects can also give you an idea of how much your furniture is worth. Another fact worth remembering is that upholstered furniture is the hardest to sell, and you will have more takers for casegoods.

Price Appropriately

This can turn out to be tough. You don't want to undersell, but you don't want to price it so high that no one wants to buy it.

Be realistic when pricing your furniture. The memories you might have attached to a piece are yours alone and provide no added value to the buyer. Similarly, a customized couch might not have any special value for a buyer either, and customers are savvy enough to recognize if you’ve inflated prices or overstated the value.

When pricing, take into account any stains, scratches, tears or dents, just as you should make a note of a well maintained or mint condition item.

Your prices should not be any higher than the asking rate for similar products that you see advertised or displayed in used furniture stores. Decide ahead of time how firm you are going to be on your price.

For ideas on how to price your used furniture you may want to read this: Tips for Pricing Used Furniture

Decide How to Sell

You have many options for ways to sell your furniture.
  • Garage sales, yard sales moving sales might work for you, depending on how much time and inventory you have.
  • Advertise on the internet on e-Bay or Craigslist to have potential buyers contact you. Include pictures and details in your ad to have serious buyers contact you. Be prepared to meet with potential buyers to show your furniture as they may want to see it before making an offer. If possible, move the furniture to an area where you don’t have to let strangers inside your home.
  • Contact a consignment store or a used furniture dealer. They will come, make you an offer and pick up the items if they have use for them. Although this is very convenient, you might not get the best price for your furniture as they have to factor in their profits, too. If you are short on time, don’t want to bother with trying to organize a garage sale, and need to get the stuff out quickly, this might be a good way to go.
  • Contact a professional liquidator if you have a lot of furniture to sell, and they will suggest the best method for disposing of your furniture. They could suggest an on-site auction, moving everything to an auction house or having a tag sale. They will set the prices for all items and you can expect them to charge 20 to 30% of the sale proceeds. Go through all costs and commissions before you sign any agreements. To find liquidators look in the yellow pages under estate sales.
  • In the end, if you are left with items you were unable to sell, consider donating to charities or furniture banks. You get the satisfaction of helping someone and a receiving a tax break.

Create an Attractive Ad

If you are selling the furniture yourself, you need to create an attractive ad, one that describes your furniture and creates a little excitement around it. You are competing with others who have used furniture to sell!

To nudge potential buyers into action, you could also mention a need that your furniture might fill. A word of caution, though: refrain from false advertising. Don't call a sagging couch "practically new."

If you are advertising online, include a photograph. Most users click on listings that have images attached to them.

If you are holding a garage sale, then in addition to advertising in your local newspaper and on the internet, you will also need to create signs announcing the date and venue of your garage sale. List a few items to give an idea of what you are selling.

Note: Check out regulations concerning signs in your area. You do not want to put a dent in your profits by having to pay fines.

To read more about garage sales go here: How To Hold a Garage Sale

Negotiate Prices

You may find that you have to negotiate with the buyer for the price on your piece of furniture.

You want to get the best price for your furniture, while the buyer is looking for the best deal. Now it may seem that both of you are looking for completely different things, but there is a meeting point. It is where both of you find value in the transaction.

You can make a counteroffer if the buyer's offer seems too low. After all haggling is part of this process. But in the end it depends on your level of comfort with it. Haggling might get you the asking price for the furniture, or you may simply find greater value in finally getting rid of it.

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