If you are farewelling the family home, you may be overwhelmed by what needs to go and working out what is sellable and what is declutteringnot.  We get many inquiries each week from families and executors in this regard.
Contrary to TV shows that suggest that everything that is old is of value, it is not. Sometimes it is the “least likely item” that is valuable.
It is not necessarily an easy task to sell items. Time and patience helps, but if you have a tight time schedule to exit the home, your options may be limited, particularly if you need others to do it (you need to factor in their costs).  If on the other hand you have plenty of time and can do it all yourself, then you have the opportunity to make more.
Although none of us want to miss out on cash, here are some basics about the current reality of selling items –

  • Your options are basically – garage sale, auction house, 2nd hand dealers, or sell online.
  • Have realistic expectations of the worth of second-hand items.  When you purchased an item there were retail costs involved, so what you paid then was not necessarily the value of the item.
  • Auction houses are often a great option, especially for executors handling deceased estates, as they provide a level of transparency.  You need to assess the costs of sending items to an auction house (packing, transportation), the auction houses costs (commission), and realise that your items will be “auctioned” so there is no guarantee you will achieve any prices quoted.  Our preferred auction house is C Bragg Auctions in Alphington.
  • To get good prices, items must usually be in top condition and unique – often it may be one or two pieces in the home that are most valuable and this is where you should focus your efforts.  Just because an item is old, does not mean it is desirable to the younger generation, thus little demand.
  • Items can go in and out of fashion quickly, so what sold 6 months ago may now not be in demand.  Also with a generation downsizing, items that were once unique are now quite common (e.g. box cameras).
  • A garage sale is a great sales avenue for many people.  Remember that it is a garage sale so people expect “low ball” prices.  There is a fair amount of preparation in a garage sale and it can be a long day.  So take that into account when you assess the $$ you have made.  What remains after the garage sale should be sorted immediately for donation or tossing.
  • Once you list a garage sale online or in the newspaper, you may get calls or door knockers who want to preview items prior to the garage sale.  These are usually dealers – it can be a great way to sell items before the garage sale day, but again, be careful about who you invite into your home.  I have had cases where we have sold so much before the garage sale, that we have cancelled the garage sale.
  • Since the advent of online selling sites (e.g. Ebay, gumtree and similar sites), there are few 2nd hand dealers left.
  • Ebay often gets some great prices but it is time consuming and is not for the novice.  If you don’t have the time, check out if there is an ebay trading assistant in your area.
  • It takes time to organise (photograph, measure up, list) and sell items so you need to assess the time involved and whether it is worthwhile from a financial point of view.  Listing items under a certain value is uneconomical.
  • If you list items online, be careful regarding your privacy, giving details out online and inviting strangers into your home.
  • If you have approached dealers and auction houses with no interest, probably there is little demand for the item. 
  • For large items you can’t sell, such as heavy furniture, if it is in good condition, check with your local charities or the majors – Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul, Brotherhood of St Laurence or Eastern Emergency Relief Network.  Even for charities, the costs of labour and transportation to move such items is starting to discourage them from accepting heavy or large items.
  • If you have a short timeline to clear items (i.e. a property settlement looming), then you may not have the luxury of waiting for a top price or a charity pickup.
  • There are some “old” items that few want – old couches, old wall units, mattresses, bedheads, pillows, TVs …
  • Giving something away for free can be a great feeling (try freecycle or gumtree)

Allsorters assist clients with identifying the best avenues to sell when they have used our other services, but it is not our core business nor a profitable aspect.  However, many of our clients are surprised at what sells and receive a very welcome cheque.
downsizing-furnitureAllsorters regularly visit auction houses and thus have a good idea of what is sellable and what is not.  We are happy to provide feedback to those who email through photographs and details of items they are trying to sell (but please don’t call).  If you would like us to visit, we do charge a fee.  You could also contact us via our facebook page.
Mary, allsorters

Mary J Harnan BBus, 3a home sorting specialist
Aging Specialist, ICD  |  CD Specialist, ICD  |  Hoarding Specialist, ICD  | Expert Member AAPO 
Based in Balwyn North, Vic, I have sorted 100’s of homes & helped 100’s of senior adults & their families. 
I regularly speak about 3a decluttering, smart downsizing and farewelling the family home.