I receive lots of inquiries regularly from families and executors about selling household contents.  
Contrary to TV shows that seem to indicate everything that is old is of value, it is not, and it is not necessarily an easy task to sell items.  Time and patience helps, but if you have a tight schedule to exit the home, your options maybe limited.
Here’s some basics about the current reality of selling items –

  • Assess the quality of what you have to identify the best avenue to sell (i.e. garage sale, auction house, sell online, dealers).
  • Since the advent of 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 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.
  • Auction houses are often the best option but you need to understand what they specialise in (i.e. what they will sell) and be aware of all the costs involved (commission, transportation, packing).  Understand that your items will be “auctioned”, there is no guarantee you will achieve any prices quoted.  Our preferred auction house is C Bragg Auctions
  • If you have approached dealers and auction houses with no interest, probably there is little demand for the item
  • Just because an item is old, does not mean it is desirable to the younger generation = little demand
  • 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
  • Be realistic when you receive an offer (you’re not dealing in a retail environment)
  • 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 actually cancelled the garage sale.
  • 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
  • For large items you can’t sell, such as heavy furniture, the main hiccup is the costs of labour and transportation to move the item/s
  • Charities such as Brotherhood of St Laurence or Eastern Emergency Relief may be interested, but you will need to make a booking which could take anything from 1-2 weeks and give them a clear idea of the items and their condition
  • Giving something away for free can be a great feeling (try freecycle)

We often assist our clients with identifying the best avenues to sell (for a fee) when they have used our other services, but it is not our core business nor a profitable aspect.  However, I keep up to date with what is in demand and desirable so I’m happy to provide my opinion to those who email through photographs and details of items they are trying to sell (but please don’t call).  You could also contact us via our facebook page.
Mary, the allsorter