Selling Your Belongings

Selling

To cover the costs of moving out, raise a little extra money for our peripatetic lifestyle as international house sitters, and avoid any storage fees, we sold as much of our furniture, electronics, and miscellaneous belongings as we could. Aside from a few computer parts and some concert tickets, we had never really sold anything before. With a brand-new iPhone in hand (bought, in part, to document our travels), we spent a weekend, dusting, cleaning, and photographing everything from designer dresses to a laminator via lamps and a Cath Kidston laundry bag. We used a variety of different platforms to differing levels of success and were surprised at the lively interest in certain items. Moreover, selling your belonging has benefits for the environment as it ensures usable items are not ending up in the landfill.

What to consider when selling your belongings:

1. What is your primary goal in selling your belongings?

Now, this might seem obvious: you want rid of your stuff and you want to make some money. You should consider which one of these is more important to you. Deciding whether you just want to get rid of everything as quickly as possible and the cash is a bonus or whether you want to make as much money as possible can influence where you sell things, the prices you set, and whether you’re willing to wait for higher bids. Establish your approach to selling your belongings before you do anything else.

2. How long do you have to sell your belongings?

Your approach might be entirely dependent on this second question. Photographing items, posting on a variety of platforms, and communicating with buyers takes time. We started posting adverts about a month before we were due to move out, but also had to take into account a two-week holiday in between. For this reason, we ruled out using eBay. In hindsight, we should have started earlier, but that would have also required starting to pack our stuff earlier. Plan as far ahead as you can to maximise earning and decrease stress.

3. What are you willing to sell?

Aside from a couple of duplicates that we sent off with our DVD collection to Music Magpie (more details below), we kept all of our books. Yes, six large boxes worth. We could do this because we had a (free) storage option. For many other items, however, we were pretty ruthless. As we saw it, Ikea furniture can be bought again; TVs and DAB radios can be picked up cheaply from supermarkets; and one formal outfit each is enough. However, there are no right or wrong approaches. Some might have more sentimental items than others. Don’t feel pressured to get rid of everything if you don’t want to.

4. What are your storage options?

We are lucky that we could store a certain amount of items at our parents’ homes. You may not have that option or you might have unlimited storage. If you do have the room to store most of your belongings, then it might make you less willing to part with certain items. For us, selling our belongings was part of the process of leaving our old lives behind. Consider whether you’re keeping items simply because you can.

5. Are you willing to deliver items or arrange for postage?

Whether you are willing to offer different delivery options might come down to timing or availability of transport. Having buyers collect items is far less time-consuming than delivering them yourself. Over the course of two hours one evening, we had a revolving door of people collecting items and ended up with a Ferrero Rocher box of cash at the end of it. If you are offering different delivery options, adjust your prices accordingly.

Where we sold our belongings: 

A local listing site (Daily Info, Oxford)
We’d heard of friends buying secondhand furniture and electronics on an Oxford-based listing site called Daily Info. Our priority was quick and hassle-free local sales, so it was our first port of call. In the end, we only sold 2 shelving units, a desk, and a laminator via Daily Info, but it was free and an easy-to-use platform.

Shpock
If you’re from the UK, you will probably have seen the cheesy adverts for Shpock, the ‘boot sale app’. In the past, we had made fun of the name — a portmanteau of ‘shop in your pocket’ according to their website’ — and wondered who would use the app. Hats were eaten. We sold clothing, furniture, and electronics via Shpock. In particular, it was great for posting odds and ends, and there was a lot of interest in our TVs from people who needed a cheap replacement at short notice. The app works on location, so search results list the items closest to you. If someone is located elsewhere in the country, they can offer a price for the item that includes the cost of postage. True to the boot sale ethos, some users do want items cheap and will offer significantly lower than the asking price. True to its cheesy adverts, you get a loud kerching noise when you sell an item.

Gumtree
We sold the majority of our furniture on Gumtree. Everyone paid the asking price and we had a couple of landlords who ended up taking more than the one item they had come for. Both the website and app have full functionality (the Shpock website is a bit clunky) and are easy to use. If we were to have another household sale, we would sell our furniture exclusively on Gumtree.

Facebook Marketplace and Local Selling Groups
To sell items on Facebook, you have two options: the Marketplace or local selling groups. If you create ‘sell’ post on one of these groups, you also have the option of posting it to Marketplace at the same time. Some groups have strict rules to follow and membership needs to be approved. Others are more laidback. Whilst we joined the group for our local suburb in Oxford, we found it has tens of thousands of members and the page was inundated with posts every couple of minutes, which meant ours often got lost. We sold some rugs, an iron, an ironing board, and a clothes horse using a local group. Aside from a veritable rush on a cheap hand blender we’d had for six years, we didn’t sell anything else through Marketplace.

Music Magpie
If you have a large collection of DVDs, CDs, books, and computer games, Music Magpie offers an easy way of getting rid of them. You put the barcode for each item into the search bar and you’re offered a price. Depending on their current stock, some items won’t be accepted. However, what is accepted actually changes on a weekly basis, so it’s worth trying again another time. Music Magpie eventually took all of our items after a few attempts. Once you’ve completed your order, you package it up and either drop it off at a collection point or arrange for a free courier to pick it up. The amount you get for each items varies from 1p to a few pounds. For 180 items across 3 orders, we received £65.

Tips for selling your belongings

  • Set up a spreadsheet with different tabs for each item type (furniture, electronics, clothes, miscellaneous) and use it to record all the necessary information: full product name, size, colour, condition, original/current price (check the website of the retailer), your asking price, where you posted it and when, and how much you sold it for. Colour code it to distinguish between sold items and those still available.
  • If you have a lot of time on your hands, look on eBay to see whether any of the items you’re selling are generating a lot of interest. Ikea furniture in colours that are no longer available from the store will sell for more, especially if there are several people completing. We had a couple pick up two bar stools to match a pair at home. Items that were part of a collection of products in the same pattern will attract people who want the complete set, especially if they have since been discontinued (e.g. a Cath Kidston Provence Rose laundry bag).
  • Look at what prices similar items are being advertised at and price your stuff competitively.
  • Take good quality photos including the items in situ if possible. If you’re selling clothes, always show someone modelling it.
  • Provide as much information as you can on each item. This will save unnecessary questions from potential buyers
  • State clearly whether the item is pick up only, if delivery is possible, or if you’re willing to post it.
  • Don’t worry if the items isn’t in perfect condition. Our dining room table had some water damage and it still sold. Be honest about the condition and price accordingly. If you find faults after you’ve sold an item, be upfront about it. Whilst packaging up the Cath Kidston laundry bag, we noticed it was coming away at the seam a little. We gave the buyer three options: a) we could fix it and post it out; b) we could post it out as it is and refund some of the money; or c) refund all the money. The buyer chose option a.
  • Don’t underestimate what you can sell. After our first few successes, we literally looked in our cupboards to see what else we had.

What we sold:

2 x chest of drawers — 2 x coffee table — 2 x bar stools — 5 x book shelves — 2 x arm chairs — 2 x foot stools — 1 x TV bench — 1 x desk — 1 x desk drawers — 1 x table and 4 chairs — 2 x TVs — 2 x DAB radios — 1 x laminator — 4 x lamps — 1 x iron — 1 x spiral cutter — 1 x microwave — 1 x curtain pole — 1 x Vivienne Westwood dress — 1 x ironing board — 1 x clothes horse — 2 x rugs — 1 x Doc Martens shoes — 1 x clothes horse — 1 x wicker ottoman — 2 x plastic set of drawers

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