- Jun 14, 2018
Once again, in the spirit of decluttering, I learned a new valuable and practical lesson. This time, it’s where to sell our furniture online, because we simply can’t open up our garage or have people come over to look at the stuff we’re selling due to being 1) too busy working from home, and 2) our general wariness of strangers being inside our house. A yard sale is out of the question because of the heat and because we simply can’t keep hauling unsold furniture to and from our home. So the best solution really is to find places to sell them online.
Of course, it does come at a cost because most of these online selling platforms do earn from a percentage off each item sold through them. However, I personally find that the convenience of advertising and selling them outweigh the cut they take. So today, I will be sharing some tips on how and where to sell your old furniture online, plus some best practices I learned from the entire experience.
Make sure the items are gently used and presentable
The furniture pieces we were selling - a loveseat, an ottoman, and a couple of armchairs, with a few squashy throw pillows thrown in for good measure - are in excellent shape, with almost no wear and tear on them because they were kept in the “nice” living room meant for clients and other VIP guests. Our RFS (reason for selling): the wife wants to upgrade that room. We do our general family lounging in the den, so that’s where the comfy and worn-in furniture are.
That being said, before you advertise your furniture, make sure it’s something that other people would have a use for, and would be willing to put inside their own home. It doesn’t have to be in pristine, almost brand-new condition. However, broken parts, dirty upholstery, stains, rips and tears, and other unsightly details that are hard to overlook can bring down the price of your furniture significantly. Worse, you might not even have takers for it at all!
If there are signs of a gently used nature (small creases or wrinkles, or a little scuffing on the legs and surfaces) which you can take care of prior to selling, go ahead and get it fixed. If it’s a simple matter of ironing or dry cleaning a slipcover or treating scuffs with furniture polish, it would be worth the elbow grease and a bit of cash if it improves the overall look of what you’re selling.
Take clear and honest photos of your furniture
It’s always a good practice when selling something online to take really good and accurate photographs of the items. You don’t need to hire a pro - just make sure that the images aren’t blurred, and there is proper lighting so the colors and textures of the furniture pieces show up nicely in the pictures. You would want to also zoom in on special features and details, especially if you’re selling something of a certain sought-after period (vintage mid-century modern is always in demand, and so are antiques), is considered rare or currently in vogue, or has unique and quirky details that appeal to a certain demographic.
….or better yet, take a video!
If you are going to be selling stuff online, it is also important to note that you’re up against a lot of competition. There will be tons of pictures on these online marketplaces, and most of the time, potential buyers are attracted to what they see first (unless they’re specifically looking for a price range, that is). But you can do it one better...with a video!
Presenting a video, with a voice-over or a “presenter” to really sell the fine points of your furniture, adds appeal to the entire selling process. You will essentially be providing a personal point of view as you capture the furniture and how it fits in a space, so potential buyers can get an idea if it’s the right one for their own space.
A special note of caution, though: when shooting anything inside your home - whether it’s for video or a series of photos - make sure to remove any traces that can make your home a potential target for thieves, whether it’s the home burglary kind or identity thieving ones. A nondescript room with no personal items, with an expanse of bare wall as the backdrop, is best for this purpose.
Because it is already a used item (no matter how “gently” you may have used it), don’t expect people to buy it at the same retail price you got it for in the first place. When it comes to price tags for used furniture, be reasonable. You would still want to get your money’s worth according to your item’s value, but you would also want to meet the expectations of your buyers.
If it’s a sought-after vintage or a custom-made piece, or even a real antique, it’s best to get a professional appraiser to help you come up with the right kind of valuation. For store-bought furniture, cross-checking with similar pieces in selling platforms can help you come up with a reasonable price tag. Then you can adjust accordingly to make room for a bit of haggling if you are inclined towards that.
When captioning or describing your furniture pieces, make sure to be as accurate and as honest as possible. Mention flaws, what got refurbished, and other important details so buyers won’t feel as if they are being scammed. Just basically put yourself in your potential buyers’ shoes, is all.
Consider posting on classifieds
Because they aren’t a specialized marketplace for furniture or other specific items, classifieds (both online and print versions) are more for selling within your vicinity or a certain radius thereof. It’s also where people are looking to unload their stuff quickly (sellers) to people looking to get stuff ASAP (buyers), so the price is usually to sell at an almost give-away rate. Craigslist is a popular site for this kind of transaction, though we didn’t really consider it because we’ve already encountered lowballers for stuff that we considered quality, but reasonably priced.
As with any site that promotes transaction, it’s always good to be cautious. Read the fine print, exchange information only with verifiable sources, and handle transactions with utmost care. That being said, there are other online furniture classifieds and apps to consider:
Sign up to online marketplaces and apps that take a reasonable percentage of sales
There are dozens (maybe even hundreds, if we were to include the local ones) of online marketplaces and apps where you can post your furniture for sale, but unsurprisingly, they have different policies, processes, and of course, cuts from each sale made. Some get around 15-20% of each sale made off their platform, while others just ask for a one-time membership/sign-up fee and are pretty much hands-off when it comes to deals between buyers and sellers.
Depending on the quality, make, provenance (hah, fancy word alert!), and other pertinent details of your furniture pieces, there is a suitable marketplace for it just like in real life. Craigslist, of course, would be the equivalent of a thrift shop for most. Others would be like vintage swap meets auctions for finer vintage and antique furniture, a place to find higher-end conversation pieces, and even ones for trendy and quirky stuff that the younger or artsier buyers would go for. Consider the following websites and apps to see where your furniture pieces for sale can be placed.
- 1st Dibs
- Apartment Therapy Marketplace
- Facebook Marketplace
- Route 66
Again, thanks to my kids and their knowledge of how apps make things more convenient and in their words “less daddy-ish”, we finally got to sell our gently used furniture and my wife finally got to pick out the living room set she’s had her eyes on for months now. Thankfully, marketplace apps and sites dedicated to selling used furniture are now available, otherwise, my poor middle-aged back won’t be able to take the strain of moving everything!
Did you ever need to sell any old furniture pieces because you’re moving out or upgrading your home? Where did you end up selling them - consigned to a brick and mortar shop, in a yard sale, or online? Please tell us all about the experience and if it’s something you can recommend to others.