If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff over the course of your life. Clothing, furniture, household goods, books, electronics, etc. The list goes on and on. Americans like stuff so much of the estimated 58,000 self storage facilities worldwide in 2010, 46,500 of them existed in the United States alone!
At some point, most people realize they either don’t have the space or the passion for what they’ve managed to accumulate. There are two basic options for what they can do – either donate the items or sell them. Donating items is oftentimes the easiest and quickest way to de-clutter. Simply give it away to friends or family members that could use the items, or make a list of the items (including condition and fair market value) and drop them off at a local donation center.
Selling requires more effort, but may be more appropriate if you feel that the items that you’ve accumulated have some value. Again, there are a few different routes that you may take. First, you can always have a garage sale, in which you simply bring everything you wish to sell into your garage/driveway and pick a warm Saturday to hold it (a 7:30-8:00am start time is a must, as serious garage sale shoppers get out early!)
If your items are too numerous or perhaps more upscale, then an estate sale may be more appropriate. Oftentimes, this involves hiring an estate sale professional to assist with coordinating and pricing the objects. They typically work on a fee and/or commission basis and will arrange & price items for sale, advertise the sale, and staff the sale for 1-3 days, depending upon the size. If you weren’t referred by a previous client, it’s ok to ask about experience and/or for references so that you’re comfortable with their business practices.
If you don’t have an entire household but simply want a few items or a collection sold, consigning is another option to consider. There are a number of specialty consignment stores in the area that specialize in clothing and furniture. For additional options, simply look-up “eBay Trading Assistant” online. These individuals & small businesses can specialize in more niche markets such as electronics, business surplus, and collectibles. Oftentimes, they live or work nearby and are willing to pick-up items at your home or business. Consignment rates can vary from 20%-50% depending on the type of consignment, so be sure to ask about the rates upfront.
Auction houses provide a quick and relatively simple means to sell a variety of items quickly. They can sell everything from art and fine wine to large pieces of furniture, firearms, and china sets. Not all auction houses are alike, so call ahead to see what they will take and for their commission rates (typically 15%-25% if you bring the items to them or greater if they need to arrange for transportation.)
Finally, if you’re like me and like to sell things yourself, you need to do some homework beforehand. Make sure you understand the fair market value of what you want to sell, as this is what others are currently willing to pay for it and should be used to price your items. This information can be found by searching for similar items for sale on Craigslist or searching the completed listings on eBay. From there, it’s just a matter of taking some good pictures and writing an accurate description of the item(s). Before you know it, you’ll be clearing out your house in no time.