Pros and cons of different sales methods

Lesson 8: Free online downsizing course

Selling can be such a fraught process.

It can be tricky knowing what is and isn’t valuable in the current second hand market.

It can feel arbitrary and unfair, knowing the original purchase cost of an item.

But, ultimately, it can be rewarding having some pocket money come in through second hand sales during the downsizing process.

Here are the main sales methods that we use, with the pros and cons of using each.

I. Using an antiques dealer

Pros of using an antiques dealer

  • Convenience: Antiques dealers often visit your home or storage location, providing on-the-spot cash and arranging transportation to their shop.
  • Trusted partner: Establishing a relationship with a reputable antiques, collectibles, or second-hand dealer can make you feel supported throughout the process.

Cons of using an antiques dealer

  • Minimal documentation: The process with an antiques dealer is usually quick, with generally a lump sum of cash exchanged and minimal documentation given. This lack of transparency can unsettle some individuals.
  • Perceived fair value: Receiving a sum of cash (often less than expected) for several items may lead to doubts about whether you received fair value. Dealers often offer around 1/3 of the price at which they will sell the item, factoring in their business margin.  This is something to remain aware of.

II. Selling items individually online

Pros of selling items individually online

  • Higher potential price: Online platforms like eBay, Gumtree, or Facebook Marketplace can fetch higher prices for your items and connect you with buyers from different locations.
  • Reaching a bigger pool of buyers: Selling online allows you to reach potential buyers from other states or even countries.

Cons of selling items individually online

  • Scammers and time wasters: Dealing with scammers, time wasters, and individuals attempting to negotiate or haggle can be frustrating and time-consuming.  Never give your bank account information or make payments to any potential buyers.
  • Safety and Security: Inviting strangers to your home or arranging meetings can raise safety concerns.
  • Time-consuming: Managing online listings, correspondence, and meeting potential buyers can be extremely time-consuming. It’s recommended to reserve this option for higher-value items.

III. Selling through Auction Houses

Pros of selling through auction houses

  • Transparency: Auction houses offer a transparent process where items go to the highest bidder.
  • Descriptions and photos: Auction houses handle the task of taking photos and writing descriptions for your items, saving you time and effort.
  • Setting reserves: You have the option to set a reserve price, ensuring that your item won’t sell below a certain value.
  • Variety of auction types: Auction houses specialise in different types of auctions, catering to various items, such as general items, antiques, collectibles, art, and more.
  • Expert input: Generally, auction houses allow you to send photos for their input before the item goes on sale.
  • Transport services: Auction houses may provide their own in-house transport or recommend reliable providers to help transport your items.
  • Auctions at home: In certain cases, especially estate clearances, auction houses may conduct auctions directly at the home.

Cons of selling through auction houses

  • Listing fees and commissions: Auction houses charge listing fees for each item and also take a commission on each item sold. Unsold items may or may not incur charges, depending on the auction house.
  • Systems and processes: It’s advisable to research and choose reputable auction houses to ensure a smooth process. Some may require additional oversight, such as cross-checking your inventory and reminding them to process payments promptly.

Final thoughts

When it comes to downsizing and selling your belongings, it’s essential to weigh the time taken against the potential return.

At the end of the day, any financial gain made by selling your home or savings made by making it more accessible or livable will likely be greater than selling all but the most valuable items.

For some, sales are the only way that they can bear to part with items. If this is the case, perhaps set a dollar value where it is worth your time. For our work, $200 is a sensible minimum target per item to justify our hourly rate.

For others, they want to just make sure items find a good home and any sales proceeds are a bonus.
We highly recommend avoiding double handling items, and having an auction house or a trusted dealer pick up groups of items can be really helpful to expedite the process.

Often people feel that they can’t make decisions on items and make traction with decluttering and downsizing until they’ve ascertained which items are saleable.

Getting advice from an auction house or dealer early on can help provide clarity which can help in making decisions while downsizing.

Next lesson: Making sure your charity donations go to the right place

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