When it comes to buying, selling and negotiating anything, I’m in my element. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up with a car salesman for a father. Hearing his car negotiation stories were common around the dinner table and growing up, I spent a lot of time at car dealerships and car shows, chatting with the car salesman like they were family.
I guess that’s why I still love test driving and buying cars – all by myself. I don’t feel anxious or pressured by sales tactics – in fact – I can really respect a job well done. Recently, we needed to upgrade to a 3-row SUV and I test drove almost every car on the market in our price range. It was a total blast. Other people look at me like I’m crazy when I say how much I love going to car dealerships, but what can I say, I love cars and I love a good deal.
How To Sell Used Stuff Online:
So, maybe my background growing up with a salesman is what inspired me to look at selling my used stuff like a game. Listing and selling items we no longer find useful not only allows someone else to give that item new life, but also allows them to get a good deal and me to score a little return on my investment. I love it when things are a win all around.
But, after seeing the surprise in a few people’s faces when they learned what I earned for that dusty old bookshelf or long forgotten kids toy, I figured maybe this is something not everyone enjoys as much as me. After years of selling thousands of dollars worth of items, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to do it right and how to get top dollar.
So, if you’re looking to score some quick cash and/or offload some items gathering dust – this post is for you.
How To Price Your Used Stuff:
The first question is always – how much is it worth? Well, just like a car, it’s worth what someone will pay for it – and if a lot of people are interested, you can up your price. This is, after all, a negotiation.
But first, you need to honestly assess the condition of your item. Here are some things to consider:
- What is the condition? Like new? Good? Okay? Poor? Be honest. Your buyer will be if you are not. And, don’t forget to clean up your item a little bit. The 15 minutes it takes to tighten screws and wipe it down is worth getting your asking price and selling it quickly.
- What is the retail price? Look it up. If it’s 50% off everywhere right now, you won’t get the same ask for a used item. May want to shelf it until sales die down. Or, if it’s no longer available, you may have an item people want, but can’t get. This is your time to shine.
- Do you have all the pieces? Is it missing anything? Are the stickers in good condition? Are the batteries dead? Does it really work? Do you have the instruction manual? It’s worth it to find all the things.
- What is the interest level? Don’t sell your plug-in air conditioner in the dead of winter, please. Sell it in the middle of a heat wave. Trust me, I’ve done it – people were literally outbidding each other on the Facebook group. It was fun.
Once you have assessed all these things, I start my pricing at 50% of the retail value if the condition is very good to like new. Add 10% for negotiation and make sure to reduce the price if someone asks. It’s part of the game. Make sure it looks a little painful to do it, so they don’t keep going. Always reject the first offer, too. It goes like this:
Them: “I see it’s listed at $45. I’ll pay $25.”
You: “Hmm… yeah, this is in great condition. I thought $45 was a great deal. I’m actually thinking I should raise the price. So, $25 is too low.”
Them: “You just want to let the listing sit there then?”
You: “Yeah. I’m not even sure I want to sell it, so I’m not in any hurry. But, if someone really wants it, they’ll know $45 is a great deal.”
Them: “You won’t come down at all?”
You: “Okay, fine, I can do $42, but only because you seem really interested.”
Them: “I can do $35.”
You: “No, too low. $40 is my lowest. Take it or leave it.”
Usually, they take it. But, be prepared for them to walk away. Some people just want to buy things cheap and re-sell it for a profit. When I list, I am prepared to turn down deals.
One time, I was selling a gorgeous rug from Pottery Barn. We were moving and the rug wasn’t the right size for the new place. Shame, because it was beautiful and I really didn’t want to sell it (you better believe I wrote that in the listing, too!). I started the price at half the retail price and shipping, which was about $400. I had a very interested buyer, but she insisted I was priced to high and offered $250. I let her know I was in no hurry. She continued to email me asking if I had sold it yet and if I was ready to take her price. I kindly said no. Finally, I found a buyer who understand why it was priced the way that it was and gladly took it off my hands for full ask. When that lady emailed me again, I was ecstatic to let her know that the rug was no longer available.
Unless you are desperate for money (and I’ve been there, too), be willing to wait it out a little for the right deal. The cheapest people usually come out first, especially people looking to flip items for profit.
Where To Sell Your Used Stuff:
When it comes to selling used things online, there’s a little method to the madness. I’ve learned this over quite some time of selling items online, from full wall bookshelf systems that had to be taken away in a rented moving truck to a digital piano I still regret selling.
Here’s the general rule I use now:
- Craigslist: Craigslist is excellent for larger furniture, more expensive items, specific brand names that people will search, etc. Sometimes it’ll take a little while, so keep renewing that listing, and be very mindful of any creepy or weird people who might be up to no good.
- Facebook Groups: I LOVE using facebook garage sale groups for things like kid’s toys, clothes, home decor and smaller furniture pieces. I do sometimes list more expensive things on FB, but they don’t sell as quickly. When looking for Facebook sale groups, search “your city” garage sale in the groups search bar. For moms, search “your city” mom trading groups, “your city” baby and kids for sale, and similar phrases. Only list in city groups you are willing to drive to. I hate getting offers from people who live an hour a way and want me to meet them. #NoThanks
- Apps: There are a lot of sale apps, such as LetGo and OfferUp. I’ve used them and sometimes I do sell things through them. They are much more anonymous than FB and that makes me nervous, but I did sell the digital piano through LetGo, so I know it works. I see smaller items on there and don’t think the platform is great for that. List bigger items.
- Nextdoor: If you haven’t signed up for Nextdoor, check it out. You have to put in your address and can only get added to your local area. You can list things for sale. Things move slowly on Nextdoor. So slowly, I’ll forget an item is on there and then bam – it’ll sell. You have the comfort of knowing the person lives nearby and doesn’t want any craziness, either. I like using Nextdoor for things people have to come to the house for.
How To Write Listings That Sell Your Stuff:
When it comes to selling your items, there are a few things that always work very well for me:
First, you want great pictures. This means, great lighting, nothing around the item that is messy, too personal, or distracting. You want pictures of all angles of the item, to show the condition. Take pictures of any damage and disclose in the listing. Nobody wants to waste their time.
Second, write a great description. Really describe how much you liked the item and why you are selling. Share the original listing so they can see the original price and get more details. If it’s furniture, share all the dimensions, so nobody has to ask. If they need to pick it up or move it on their own, be direct about that. Talk about any condition issue up front – scratches, dents, pen marks, shaky chair legs, etc. The more you can go into detail, the more likely you are to sell it quickly, without any hassle.
Third, clear up any terms. I usually add that I will not hold items. This means, if you want it, you can Venmo me the money until you can meet me, or be prepared for someone to buy it out from under you. I have never once – never once – read that again – NEVER ONCE – held an item for someone and had it work out. If they want it, they will come get it. People buying used items know they have to move if they want it. And, in almost every listing, someone says something like, “I really want this toy, but I can’t meet you for three days.” They might even give me a sob story. I say back, “That’s great, I don’t hold listings. So, reach out to me on that day and if I still have the item, it’s yours.” Then, they can decide if they want to hustle on over or let it go.
Basically, be honest, be descriptive, and be direct.
Tips for Safe Selling:
It’s sad that we live in a world where a Craigslist transaction hits the news as a horrible story. But, that’s life. Take precautions to sell safely. Here are my tips:
- Meet in broad daylight at a busy location. I like to park right in front of a busy Starbucks or In ‘n Out. Sometimes, people will try to negotiate a different place. That’s a red flag.
- Try not to go alone. Can you meet them before or after lunch with a friend and have the friend in the car with you? Safety in numbers.
- Don’t bring your kids, unless it’s sold on a mommy Facebook group and the person lives nearby.
- Don’t give out your address, unless you have to have them pick it up. In that case, always have someone at the house to keep the kids inside or to be present if they come inside. And, if they are coming over, you need to get enough information from them to be able to vet them before they arrive. You can even say you’ve had a scary experience and just want to make sure they’re not a serial killer. Most people are happy to give you a business website or something, because they are feeling just as nervous. Get the item as close to a door as possible. If you’re ready to sell it, maybe even move it into the garage.
- Tell them to bring cash. Before they arrive, say to bring cash. If they are going to Venmo, they need to do it before you meet and the money needs to post.
- Pack protection. I always have mace one me. Or, I thread my car keys through my fingers. People are cray. Protect yourself.
- Don’t go home right away. When I meet somewhere, I will go into Starbucks after and sit down and have a coffee. I met someone one time and then they followed me home, but they stayed back enough where I didn’t notice until I was inside and walking upstairs. I saw the car slowly going by my house through the window on my stairs. I didn’t sleep well that night or for a few nights. I don’t know why they followed me, but it really creeped me out. I never go straight home now.
- Be prepared to walk away. If they don’t bring enough money or try to say it’s not in the same condition as the listing, I am happy to say, “Okay, thanks anyway.” before getting in my car. I don’t do hard sells. No thanks. If you feel uncomfortable at all or it looks like an ambush, trust your gut and get out of there.
What If It Doesn’t Sell?
So, you’ve written the perfect listing with great pictures and posted it on at least 3 platforms for weeks and no dice. Try to drop the price, booboo. Give it a 10 or 20% reduction and try again.
Sometimes, though, things just don’t sell. Sometimes nobody else wants it right now. You have three choices here:
- Stash it somewhere and try again another time.
- Donate it
- Offer it for free
If you decide to donate, I always recommend finding a local shelter for things like clothes and children’s items. I volunteered at these places years ago and have such respect for the help they can offer people in need. Please don’t drop it at Goodwill where the mark-up is still too high for people who are really needy.
For larger items, I will either try a few more times to sell it and drop the price, or I will offer it up for free with pickup. You’ll be shocked how fast something will go if it’s free. There are people who pickup free things and sell them. If they can have better luck at it than me, good for them. Sometimes, you need the stuff out of your house or garage.
There you go! My easy guide for how to sell your used stuff online for top dollar! You can really move things fast with this system and easily get some money in your pocket.
Remember that most things can be sold, given they’re not old shoes or used underwear. Sometimes, though, something just doesn’t sell. Believe it or not, I have a cute chair I bought from Anthropologie that I’ve listed three times and never sold. It’s sitting in a random corner, where it actually works quite nicely to fill an odd space in the house. I always find it interesting to see what people go gaga for; even after dozens of sales, I am still surprised at what moves fastest.
Have any great tips of your own? Share them in the comment below!
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Have a fabulous day,