Lisa Giannetto Santilli's Blog
You’re moving into a new home and have all kinds of ideas about new furniture pieces, arrangements, art, and organization. Knowing this, you also know that you’ll need to pare down the items you’re bringing from your current home. Nowadays, there are myriad ways to sell your unwanted belongings. The classic garage sale, or estate sale, is still a great option and there are simple actions that you can take to make sure your sale goes well. Here are some suggestions to help you be successful in selling off and getting rid of all your items, before, during, or after your sale.
Remember, remember, remember—plan ahead! Knowing what you want to sell, what price you can accept, and when you want to host your sale is imperative to your success.
PICK YOUR SALE DATE: Many cities only allow you to conduct yard sales on specific dates or weekends throughout the year. Double-check when you may host your sale. Then pick your time and start advertising a few weeks early. Post signs in your neighborhood and on surrounding city streets if you're allowed. And connect with your social network to spread the word. Include the types of items you’re selling, and even images of your higher-value pieces if you can. If your city requires any notice or paperwork completed, make sure you cross all your T’s well before your sale date.
BIG TICKET ITEMS: If you have any higher-priced items—furniture, appliances, exercise equipment, or tools—consider pricing these items first and starting your sale efforts online. Posting your sale items on Craigslist, eBay, Neighborhood, Facebook Marketplace, Upcycle, and other classified sites can help put your things in front of buyers currently looking for just what you're offering. People looking for specific pieces or professionals looking for new wares for their shops frequently search through these classifieds—and they typically know precisely what their budget is for each item. Once you know your timeline for completing your sales, what day you will host your estate sale, and when you’re moving into your new home get your big-ticket items posted online as early as possible to get the sale process rolling.
Note: for things you are not able to sell or donate, posting items as “Pick up for free” on classified sites can help you unload them with less effort on your end.
- Set prices ahead of time. When you know what pieces you want to sell, start researching their resale price online. Compare resale prices on classifieds sites with suggested pricing on garage sale advice sites. Note the amount you want to sell the item at, and the lowest price you're willing to accept. Keep these handy in a notebook so you can check your bottom line before you haggle. Checking prices ahead of time will also help you discover items that won't sell, so you can price them lower for a quick sale. You’ll help yourself get rid of clutter and have less to manage at the end of your sale. Consider having a “Clearance” or “Liquidation” or “Lowest Price Marked” area—and even a “FREE” area—to indicate items that must go!
- Create enough space between tables, racks, and standing furniture for shoppers to move through easily and see everything. Try to design the flow of your sale so that traffic moves past the best place for you to be to conduct transactions, answer questions, and keep an eye on your belongings. Clothing will sell better if shoes are set out in pairs, clothing hung on racks (especially adult clothing), and if you divide items by adult/child, gender, and size.
- If you are selling any electronic items or appliances be sure to provide an area near an outlet or extension cord for shoppers to use to test them. For battery-powered items have a few spare batteries in each of the sizes you need to allow for testing. Make sure you check all items yourself ahead of time and mark any that aren't fully functional.
- Have a team designated to help you during your sale. You may not be able to answer all questions, make deals, and monitor your belongings on your own. Have enough cash on hand to give change, even for large bills, and designate someone on your team to keep a close eye on the bank box while you assist shoppers.
- Attract buyers with signs, by putting attractive large items and small items out front, and by offering a beverage or simple snack to encourage them to say and browse.
AFTER THE SALE: For the easiest close to your sale, arrange for a local charity to come to pick up any remaining items at the end of the day. Or, have someone on your team (maybe your friend with the pickup?) scheduled to take leftovers to a donation center. This way you won't have to worry about storing any items you weren't able to sell.
Ask your local real estate agent for their advice on preparing for a sale before your next big move.