Downsizing. Does the mere mention instill fear in your heart? It seems that the pace of life has become so frenetic that there simply isn’t time to consider, let alone implement, the process of eliminating your treasured possessions. The days of preparing for and organizing a traditional yard or garage sale are not only a huge time commitment but typically have a negligible hourly rate of return.
Fortunately, in these days of Facebook, eBay, Craigslist and online auction services such as MaxSold, downsizing can be an almost hands-off task.
Craigslist is a good option for large items such as furniture, vehicles and the like. The service is free, contact can be made via phone or email, and payments can be made in cash or via PayPal, Venmo or another money-transfer service. Frustration is the biggest downside to using this method. There is a legendary creature, known widely as a “Craigslist flake” — supposed buyers who never appear at the pickup time and don’t return a call or email.
Similar to the Craigslist process, Facebook offers the Marketplace option, where items may be listed at a given price, the buyer makes contact with the seller, and they select a time and place to exchange the items and payment. This does require some effort on your part, both to list items and then take time for the meet-up.
EBay is an excellent tool to sell small, high-value items and collectibles. Only a very rudimentary knowledge of computers and cameras is required to make an eBay sale successfully. You will need to photograph your items, create a listing with several photos and a description, and post it — and hopefully make a sale.
The downside is that you’ll need to package and ship the items, but you can receive payment by any method you choose and include shipping costs. There are some safeguards in place to protect both buyer and seller if any issues arise. This method, as the afore-mentioned two, also requires a fair amount of time and effort to photograph, list, package and ship.
If you are truly downsizing to a smaller space, considering an estate sale or moving aging parents to assisted living, an online auction may be the best solution. There are two ways to go about it.
Option one is to have an online auction provider, such as MaxSold, do all the work. Once you remove all items not to be sold from the home, the provider comes in and the magic begins. The auction staff sorts, inventories, photographs, logs and lists the items. The sale then “goes live” and opens for bidding.
Typically, all bids open at $1. There is some risk involved, of course, as there is no guarantee that items will sell for more than that. Sales of this type are usually open for one to two weeks. One or two days after closing, the buyers pick up their items. You select the pickup days and the auction house provides the staffing for it. No money is exchanged, as all sales are via credit card, which you will set up before accepting any bids. Commissions and fees are highest with this option.
Option two is to have a “seller-managed” auction. In this scenario, you would do all of the work: sorting, photographing, creating descriptions, etc. You also manage the pickup process. This is the most profitable way to do an online auction but also requires the most time investment. For a three-bedroom home, expect to spend a minimum of 60 hours preparing, as well as a full day for pickup with two to three people on site to help.
You can hire an intermediary instead, such as an organizer, to be the go- between and do the hands-on work. This option is great for families who have two income earners or are simply too busy. It’s a great compromise solution between doing all the work and doing none of it. Consequently, profits will be somewhere between the first two options.
The advantages of an online sale are many: first and foremost, bidding wars. One never knows what might inspire it — recently, there was a bidding war on a glass mug of marbles that finally sold for $85.
But the real advantage is that, historically, 90 percent of items will sell. That is far better than any yard sale. You don’t need to travel from your location, as the buyers are aware when they bid that they must pick up their items.
If you have items in a storage unit, many companies will allow sales to be conducted directly from the unit, eliminating the need to move anything. Be sure to confirm with the storage facility to ensure sales of this type are allowed. You will pay a commission to the provider, typically around 40 percent, directly related to the level of services required. The levels of service, fees and commissions vary — so like with any purchase, be sure to research for the best profit possible.
Any combination of these methods is viable and can help you get the most financial return for well loved but no longer wanted items. Happy selling!