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Personal Property: How To Sell

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There are a variety of ways to sell personal property. Which method will net you the most amount of money primarily depends on the type of item you want to sell and its value. 

Before considering the various means of getting cash from personal property, it is advisable to think about the following tips: 

  • Plan ahead whenever possible. In an emergency, you may need to accept a low price.
  • Find out what an item is worth before selling it. To learn how, click here.
  • If an item has personal or sentimental value, consider using it as collateral for a loan from a friend or from a commercial lender such as a pawnbroker. If you do not repay the loan, you still lose the item - but at least you have additional time to raise the cash to keep the item. (To learn how to maximize your experience with a pawnbroker, click here. To learn how to ask a friend for a loan, click here.)
  • When you think about how much you will net from a sale, keep ih mind the effect of a profit or loss on your income taxes.
  • If the items you are selling are expensive, do not feel as if you have to sell them locally. For example, if you live in a rural area, it may be worth taking or shipping your items to an urban area where demand and prices are greater - or selling them online.
  • Explore new uses of other assets that will get you money without giving up the item. For example, click on the following links to learn how to get money from your home, life insurance, and/or retirement plan, or based on your credit.

Following is a list of the various ways to sell personal property with the pros and cons of each:

  • Auction Houses Auction houses are good for selling valuable items such as antiques, art and jewelry or large collections. To learn what you need to know about selling property at an auction, click here.
  • Private Collectors
    • If you know of private collectors who collect the items you are interested in selling, contact them directly. 
    • You can afford to sell below value and still make more than if you sold through a dealer or online because there are no expenses involved in making the connectoin with a buyer.
  • Consignment
    • Consignment is when you give your property to a professional (usually a shopkeeper) to sell for you. You continue to own the item until it is sold.
    • Consignment shops tend to specialize. For instance, like-new, brand name clothing; jewelry; instruments or sporting goods.
    • To learn how to sell property on consignment, see: How To Sell Personal Property On Consignment
  • Sell to Dealers 
    • The fastest way to sell a personal item is to dealers or pawnshops. 
    • An excellent way to sell diamonds or other gem stones or collectible objects such as stamps or coins.
    • Do not expect to receive more than 50% of the retaila price. Buying dealers generally look to the other 50% to cover their costs and profit. .
    • Look for a dealer that specializes in your items. If there is none in the area in which you live, perhaps you can deal with one long distance through photographs. An 18th century silver candle stick will probably sell for more in New York City than in Podonk. Or consider selling to on line dealer-buyers, such as www.ThingsWeBuy.com offsite link
    • If there is a pawnshop in your area, consider pawning your item (using it as collateral for a loan) instead of selling it.
    • If you have metal items, it may be worth calling a scrap metal dealer in your area. Scrap dealers pay by the pound. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Scrap Metal" or search in your favorite search engine for "Scrap metal" plus the name of your city/town/area.
  • Sell items online through the Internet 
    • Selling online literally provides a worldwide group of potential buyers.
    • Successful online sales take time and effort.
      • The items must be photographed.
      • You must write descriptions of the item (in a manner that makes it most likely to pop-up when people search).
      • After a sale, you have to pack and ship the item to the buyer on a timely basis.
    • Consider the following alternatives. This advice is from Money Magazine:
      • eBay offsite link which is best for collectibles, name-brand clothing, electronics, sports equipment, and household goods. It s  not ideal for awkward-to-ship or one-of-a-kind pieces. Listing takes time to create multiple photos and a detailed description. You will need to accept payment from PayPal.
      • CraigsList offsite link is best for furniture, household goods and anything that would be challenging to ship and does not have a high secondary-market value.
      • Amazon Marketplace offsite link: best for items that people shop for on Amazon.com such as electronics, books and DVDs. Not ideal for items that are too heavy to ship. Listing is easy if the item is on Amazon. Just click the "Have one to sell?" link.
    • Before selling online, consider taking the steps described in our article: How To Sell Items Online Through The Internet
  • Sell through a listing service or a local newspaper or other publication listing items for sale for little or no cost.
    • This type of sale is particularly useful for large items that would be difficult or expensive to ship.
    • When thinking of online listing services, consider CraigsList offsite link
  • Sell items yourself.  There are many ways to sell things yourself, including:

To Learn More

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