It’s been a busy week with the Holiday festivities, but we’re back and with our noses to the grind stone, selling our things and prepping for the journey ahead. We are counting down now 14 weeks 3 days, it may sound like a lot of time to some, but for us we know that it is crunch time. We have a 3,000 square foot house that we must pare down to fit into a 37′ foot boat, with about 250 square feet of inside living space!
The easiest way to get rid of things is to give them away or sell what has value. We assigned a category to our belongings with an eye on downsizing. Keep it forever, use now and on the boat. Keep it forever, pack it into our storage pod to be shipped to us later. Sell because it has a value. Give away because someone can use it but it can’t be sold. Throw it away.
Keeping things is easy and I will get to that process in another post. Downsizing our belongings is the hard part. We’ve started to stack the throw away things each trash day. At some point we will take a few trips to the dump. It is easy to figure out, by the box, what we would like to give away. We are assembling a box here and there for an easy trip to the donation spot, that is conveniently on the way out of our neighborhood.
Our downsizing efforts that involve selling are divided below. We are selling our belonging in stages. Some now, some later.
Resale and consignment stores are a wonderful resource for higher end higher priced pieces of furniture and clothing. The bonus to using an outside source is that you eliminate the need to field phone calls and meet strangers at your home, especially if the item is a sofa or giant fish tank you can’t pack up and meet some one at the corner store with. Also, if you shop around, some stores with pick the item up for you as well. The down side is that all consignment store so charge a fee.
Thank God for Craigslist! I started posting things on Craigslist about six months ago, when we first started kicking around the idea of a major down size. If there is one piece of advice I can give about Craigslist is just be patient. We had this awesome tempur-pedic bed frame that just wouldn’t sell, only because it was an odd size, a high-priced item that needed just the right buyer. Yesterday after six months of re-posting the thing we finally sold it. I will go ahead and pat myself on the back here and say that I am the master of all things Craigslist.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was a Realtor. It was 2008 and the market had taken it first horrible crash, in order to make ends meet, I would go to local flea markets and bought Dyson vacuums, clean them up and re-sell them. I made a small fortune believe it or not, and I learned a few principles that have helped me become an excellent “CraigsLister”.
- Take a great picture. This was something I learned during my real estate career, a great picture gets someone there to see what you’ve got to sell and once they are there with cash in hand the sale is inevitable.
- A buyer loves a back story. In your listing, tell the story about your item, why are you selling it how much did you pay for it and are you sad to see it go? Sometimes I will even add my personal story “Selling all of our belongings and moving onto our 37′ boat, this 7′ stuffed giraffe just won’t fit. We’ve tried”
- The Price is Right. Pricing an item to low, because you have to get rid of it is a Craigslist death sentence. Sometimes if my item will not sell I will take a new picture and raise the price, because after all value is perceived.
- Research. Do a quick simple search within Craigslist and look to see what similar items are sold for and what types of information is included. I do this simply to make sure I don’t get 500 emails asking me how many feet my 12 inch ruler is (people are nuts)
Garage sales are in my opinion a last-ditch effort to get just a little coin from the last things you could not sell on Craigslist or at consignment stores. In our neighbor book there is a neighborhood garage sale that happens in the spring, where everybody in the neighborhood is out on the front lawn on the dame day, which is a great draw for garage sales-ers. But if you are going to go it alone, here are a few helpful tips on how to get the most out of your garage sale.
- Make sure to gather all of your items before for your sale, it’s never good to be scrabbling the night before and forget to put things out. The more stuff you have out the more likely people are to stop, when they see your sale.
- Create a pleasing display. After all presentation is half of the battle.
- Don’t be stubborn, number one because if you don’t sell it will either be gathering dust in your house, OR you will be dragging it to the donation drop off.
Downsizing on Ebay is more appropriate for higher priced electronics, jewelry and collectibles. In my opinion, if you can sell it easily without worrying about shipping, Ebay is not the way to go. Consequently, we had only a few items meant for Ebay’s catalogue. It is important to know how to do an Ebay auction. I think the end time is one of the most important factors that help you get the most for your item. If you are pulling an all-nighter and set up a 7 day auction that ends at the time you are placing it, it may not get multiple last-minute bids.
You can list an item starting at $1 or any amount. You can add a “buy now” option. I like to start things I sell at $1 because they get more notice. Everyone wants to get a good deal. I like to end auctions at 9P EST. This gives people time to check auctions after they get home from work and if they see that an item has gone above their highest set price, they may increase it. I answer every question that is posed to me and I make it viewable for all bidders.
I find that good pictures and concise descriptions help sell items. Once it is sold, make sure the person complete’s payment and don’t delay in shipping the item. I always get a tracking number, even if they don’t opt for the additional service. Update the shipping information and move on to the next item!
Be careful about setting your guarantee. Ebay and PayPal make you live by them. I guarantee that the item is as described but don’t offer a return policy. I set terms in the auction that allow me to re-list the item if a person hasn’t completed the transaction in 12 hours. I’ve had a lot of people back out of buying an item and not even contact me. It is frustrating when there are multiple other people who were interested in the auction.
I’ve sold a number of nice collectibles, guns or other valuables to friends who admired them at one point. People hear you are moving onto a small boat and they make plenty of comments about taking things off your hands. Make sure to set a fair price and friends can make an easy buyer!