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Personal Property: How To Sell

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Whether you own some old record albums, an antique clock, or diamond jewelry, your personal property can be sold for cash. If you may want to sell personal property, try to plan ahead. In an emergency, you might be too willing to accept a low price for your items.

The many ways to sell your personal property include the following:

  • 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're 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 objecs with a fan base such as stamps or coins.
    • Expect a low price for the items since the dealers will be looking to make a profit when they resell your items at retail. You are not likely to receive more than 50% of the retail price.
    • Particularly consider dealers if you are selling diamonds or other gems.
    • 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:

If the items you are considering selling are expensive, do not feel as if you have to sell them locally. If you live in a rural area, it may be worth taking or shipping your items to an urban area where the demand and prices are likely to be greater -- or selling them online.

Before selling any item, consider the following guidelines:

  • Find out what what the item is worth.
  • When thinking about what a sale will mean to you, take into consideration the taxable gain or deductible loss.
  • Consider making a donation of personal property to charity. While a donation does not result in immediate cash, it can help lower the amount you pay in taxes. To learn more, click here.
  • Consider alternative means for getting money based on personal property without selling it. For example, 
    • A loan from a family member or friend using the property as collateral. If you do not repay the loan, they can keep the item or sell it.
    • A loan from a Pawn Broker
  • Explore new uses of other assets that could provide money without selling the asset. For instance, your home, life insurance, retirement plan,and credit..

To Learn More

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