Selling items of value when downsizing

People’s worst fear around downsizing is seeing their precious items end up in landfill.

The mental image of family members tossing all of their household goods into a skip can be enough to keep people up at night.

Collections within a home often cost a lot of money to acquire and can carry a lot of sentimental value.

The dilemma of the display cabinet

Many people are aware that the types of items which were valued when they were younger are not valued by younger people now.

It used to be that the hallmark of a middle class home was a collection of crystal, china and a collection of display objects taking pride of place in a display cabinet.

This is now not the case.

For better or for worse, most people under the age of 55 generally do not own a display cabinet.

As a consequence, apart from certain items, many of the figurines, china sets and pewter plates from the display cabinet are of negligible value on the second hand market.

What’s worse, often the display cabinets themselves, as well as much of the furniture within the home are not as valuable as the homeowner would hope them to be.

Matt Paxton, from Legacy List, says, “No-one wants the dining room.” Harsh words, perhaps, but this is often true.

Trends in collectibles

So, what is of value now?

It is sometimes the items of perceived lesser value that end up being saleable to dealers and auction houses.

“Vintage” items such as bakelite phones, super 8 cameras, old Playboy magazines and retro furniture (such as Parker furniture) are all items our clients have been able to sell.

Die cast metal toys seem to be particularly popular on the second hand market.

Additionally, during the pandemic, hobby items such as leatherworking items and photography items seemed to command particularly good prices.

Though there isn’t a strong demand for most stamps and coins, other items from travels (such as collections of zippo lighters) can do well.

Deferring to the experts

Though we have seen patterns in the types of items which are saleable in the second hand market, we always defer to the experts and send photos of items to relevant dealers specialising in particular items.

The most useful piece of advice I received from a dealer was that rare items are rare.

Usually, people in possession of of rare items, such as WWI military paraphernalia or artwork by a prominent artist, know what they’ve got.

For the rest of the household items, we rely on auction houses and dealers and try to warn people that they will often only get what the market will pay, not necessarily what they paid for an item.

Second hand dealers and auction houses are particularly useful to try to determine which household items are of value and which are not worth selling.

Most dealers and auction houses accept photos of the items and can advise you about how best to proceed.

When to sell items

Where practical to do, we find it useful to sell items at the start of a downsizing project. That way, you have the peace of mind of knowing which items are saleable and which items can just be donated.

After people have received advice on selling their items, the rest of the decluttering and downsizing process can often go much more smoothly.

How downsizing professionals can help

Downsizing professionals (such as ourselves!) have often seen most kinds of household items.

It’s surprising how many houses have a very similar collections.

We have developed a network of contacts for rehoming different types of items and, if we don’t have a contact for a particular type of item, we often know who to ask.

For people in the Canberra region, we can connect you with dealers and auction houses that we’ve used ourselves for different types of items as part of a DIY Downsizing Plan or as part of a full service downsizing project.

Any questions about this or anything else in this online course, feel free to get in touch.

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