Do you have things in our home or apartment that you wish you could replace with new things? If you look around my house there are WAY too many chairs. It looks a little ridiculous, if I’m being honest.
I decided to make a new rule for myself. Before I can buy something for my house, I have to sell something old. Before I bought a bigger dining room table, I sold the sink I took out of the bathroom. The dollar amounts don’t have to be equal. Over time when you keep track, the sales can really save you money. It has motivated me to clean out stuff I don’t use.
When we moved into our new smaller house, we needed to pair down. I really hate garage sales because I don’t want to spend hours setting up to have someone ask if I’ll take $0.25. I’d rather donate. I’ve found many great ways to sell used furniture, appliances, toys and more online. I’ve sold rugs, a sink, a bed, a table, toys and more.
When I told a friend I did this, his reaction was surprising. He said “you’re going to get yourself killed doing that”. This could happen I suppose, but someone could kill you walking down the street. I feel like sometimes one example of someone being harmed during an exchange grabs the headlines and scares people out of attempting to sell things, rather than throw them away.
However, there are ways to take precautions before you try to start selling your used things online IF you are meeting the buyer in person. These tips don’t apply if you are shipping things to people.
1.) Work in pairs – Try not to meet anyone when you are home alone. Ask a friend or neighbor to stop by for a cup of coffee or do it when you know your roommate or spouse will be around.
2.) Meet in public places – If the item is not heavy, meet in a public place. You can even meet the the parking lot of a police station to exchange items.
3.) Lie – If option one and two are not possible, be sure to mention to the buyer via email or text that you have to wait until a time when your husband/wife is home (even if you aren’t married). Chances are if someone is planning to kill you instead of buying your chair, they will back out if it’s clear that you are not going to be home alone.
4.) Use Friends and Neighbors – If you have someone coming over to make a purchase, call your neighbor and give them a heads up. If they know you are expecting someone they can be on the lookout if something strange happens. If you don’t have any good neighbors, telephone a friend and tell them to check on you in 5 minutes.
Best Places to Sell Used Stuff Online
1.) Facebook Marketplace – Since I started using Facebook marketplace my ability to sell items has grown by leaps and bounds. Pros – It’s free, super quick to list a product AND you can rate the buyer. The buyer does not have your address, email or phone number unless you give it to them. Cons – It’s not great for selling larger used home items like a bathtub. My experience with buyers so far has been excellent. You can sell everything including appliances, light fixtures, furniture, art, curtains. If you question whether something you want to sell is on there, do a quick search. I bet you will be surprised.
Facebook also has “groups” you can sell through. For example, your neighborhood may have a group where you can join and only market your things to others in the group. I tried this early on, but didn’t find a lot of success with this option. I listed something but I didn’t get a single request for more information.
2.) Craigslist – I’ve used Craigslist to sell everything including the kitchen sink. I think sometimes contractors and stagers use it to find items that they can put into houses to save money, as long as the items are in good condition. Pros – just like with Facebook buyers don’t get your email, it all goes through Craigslist’s anonymous email unless you list your phone number in the listing. I don’t recommend doing this because strangers can then text you. Cons – Listings only last for 45 days and then they disappear without warning.
3.) Ebay – I’ve used Ebay to sell smaller items that can be shipped easily. It is not good for larger items unless you specify that the buyer has to be local. Pros – You can see buyer’s ratings and never have to meet them in person unless you choose local only. Collecting payment is easier because people have to pay with Paypal or a credit card. Cons – Beware of shipping costs and factor them into your sale either in the price or disclose the shipping cost. Make sure to measure your box, to be sure shipping doesn’t cost a lot. It takes longer to list an item on Ebay and you have to have an established Ebay account. Ebay asks for more details about each product, which takes more time but can give buyers a better idea of exactly what you are selling.
I once sold a Tiffany bowl and then determined that once I paid to ship it I would lose money. In this case I refunded the customer and told them it broke when I was packing it.
4.) Nextdoor – As I write this I’m listing my first item on this site. Pros – You can sell mostly to people that live in your neighborhood if that makes it seem more safe.
How To Market Your Used Stuff So It Sells
1.) Lots of Photos – A picture is worth a thousand words, especially because people don’t like to read. You will find even when you write details in your listing, people don’t read it. More photos are better than less. Good photos are better than poorly lit photos. This may take a bit of time but clean up what you want to sell. Wash it, dust it, whatever you need to do. Take a photo in natural light if it’s possible. Also, photograph it from every angle and be sure to show any flaws, hiding them can backfire when people come to pick something up.
2.) Write A Good Description – People like to hear a story, as long as it’s short. Tell them how you used the item or what you love about it. For these blue chairs I said “my son and his friends tumbled around on these for years and they have kept their shape beautifully.” I had eight people who wanted to buy them at full price. It also helps to give descriptive information about the fabric or material. If there is anything wrong with your gently used item, state exactly what it is.
3.) Measure everything– You will find that even if you measure an item, people still ask “how big is it?” If you put that in the description it makes it easy to find. Don’t answer these questions by suggesting they read the listing because that implies they are stupid, even if that’s true.
4) Descriptive Title – people search by keywords. If you want more people to see your listing put as many keywords that apply in your title as possible. For example, I listed these chairs as “blue stuffed Pottery Barn kids chairs with washable covers”. This is likely to capture a lot more eyeballs. For example, if you title an item “dining table” you might be far down the list. Use a more specific title like “black 48 inch round pedestal dining table”.
5.) Be prepared to haggle – You can write “firm” in your description, but people always ask for a better price. I usually counter by telling people that I have lots of people interested and I don’t price the item far from what I want to get. If you find an item doesn’t get any traction within 2 weeks, you have probably priced it too high.
6.) ONLY TAKE CASH – State that it is “cash only” first in your listing to limit the number of scammers. Otherwise you get people who want to pay you more than you are asking and have you send the difference back to them. This is not a joke, people really try to do this. Craigslist tends to attract more fake buyers and higher priced items do as well. Never take a check.
7.) Bundle items – I have about 10 nerf weapons that my son never uses. Rather than sell them one at a time, I listed a bundle. This could make a great gift (or donation if it doesn’t sell) and it take up much less of your valuable time. This is the listing I made for these items for $50.
What have you sold online from your house? Which sites did you have the best luck with?