“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never been truer – convert your clutter into cold, hard cash with these tips.


Converting Your Clutter into Cash

Fifty years ago, families would pack six kids into a two-bedroom home with three linen closets – and that was enough. They didn’t accumulate stuff the way we do now, with our storage units, attics packed to the rafters, and walk-in closets.

And still, we have more stuff than we know what to do with.

If you’ve had this realization and are looking to purge the clutter, don’t do so in vain. Why not sell it? There are many options available depending on what you have to offer.

Antiques and Collectibles

If you have something of collectible value to sell, your first thought might be to include them in a garage sale, but that may not be the best idea. Graduated Personal Property Appraiser and Antique Buying Agent Korin Iverson says on her blog that you absolutely should not sell antiques in a garage sale because you won’t get the full value for the item. “When I was working in the auction house we would always have people come in and say something like: ‘On my way here I stopped at a garage sale and picked this up for $12.00. Can you tell me what it’s worth?’ In this case, it was a Missen stein worth $1200,” she recalls.

If you’re looking to sell your items fast, then eBay may be for you. Of note, most buyers won’t consider bidding on auctions from sellers with a rating less than 100, so you need a well-established account with significant positive feedback for eBay sales to be successful.

While items on eBay sell quickly because of the worldwide exposure, there is no guarantee that they will sell. Additionally, Iverson points out that antiques and collectibles on eBay often sell for under value, and you have to pay listing fee and PayPal transaction fees. Plus, you have to ship to the winner, which can dip deeply into your profit if you underestimate the cost.

Selling antiques and collectibles through consignment in an antique store or flea market is a decent option, especially if you have a booth’s worth of items and don’t want to mess with the hassle of selling yourself. You’ll typically pay a 10 to 30 percent consignment fee, plus you often have the monthly expense of booth space. Keep in mind that because you’re limiting exposure to only those coming to the store, it may take a long time for your items to sell.

“I recommend auctions the most,” Iverson says. Utilizing an auction house means your items are well advertised, have a larger buyer base, have experts to value them and someone else to ship them. While there is often a seller’s fee of 10 to 20 percent and some items may go unsold, Iverson feels this option is worth it, especially for multiple items. 

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One Man’s Junk…

You can still monetize those not-so-valuable items like home décor, clothes, kitchen items and furniture. That list already sounds like a garage sale advertisement, which is probably the first option that comes to mind. If this is the route you choose, consider the following:

  • Title the sale – an “estate” or “moving” sale will garner more response
  • Advertise – Craigslist tends to be the most popular for larger cities, newspaper ads for smaller communities
  • Put out signs – at busy intersections and include dates of sale, address and direction arrows (make sure it’s readable from a distance)
  • Offer deals – such as buy-one-get-one or discounts for multiple items
  • Permits – check with your city/municipality to see if you need a permit to have a yard sale
  • Pricing – use the 50-30-10 rule: almost-new items at 50 percent of retail, slightly used items at 25 to 30 percent of retail, and used items at 10 percent of retail (and put tags on everything)
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Additionally, start your sale earlier in the week. “Believe it or not, the best day of the week to hold a sale is Friday, as this is when most dealers and retired people will come,” says Ava Seavey, of GarageSaleGold.com.

Some garage sale items will also sell well on Craigslist or eBay, if they’re in high demand. “I always choose to sell my tech and my furniture on Craigslist, but tend to make more money on clothes and books through eBay,” says Mike Tyson of Apartment Therapy. Other items that do well on Craigslist include small kitchen appliances and baby items. Regardless of whether you choose eBay or Craigslist, be sure to include lots of high-quality pictures and a detailed description of the item and it’s condition.

If all else fails, or you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling all your clutter right now, find a nearby storage unit to get the clutter out of the home until you’re ready. At least then your home will no longer look like a small-scale flea market.



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