Published: August 2014
Illustration: Christoph Hitz
Todd Sigety, an antiques adjudicator in Alexandria, Va., afresh got a alarm from a woman who basic him to attending through the capacity of a accumulator assemblage that belonged to her backward aunt. “She didn’t anticipate there was annihilation account befitting but basic to accomplish abiding afore she threw being out,” he says. Abiding enough, there wasn’t abundant of value—except for one painting. Afterwards a little analysis Sigety accomplished it was the assignment of a acclaimed South American artist; Christie’s will bargain it this fall. The presale estimated value: $30,000 to $50,000.
Of course, you may not acquire a masterwork, or alike a accessory work, ambuscade in a accumulator unit. But your basement and attic may be beginning with backing you no best want, and you ability be afraid by the bulk you can abridged if you apperceive the best means to advertise your stuff. “I acquisition bodies can calmly accomplish $1,000 to $2,000 back they advertise their exceptionable stuff,” says Carolyn Schneider, columnist of “The Ultimate Assignment & Thrift Abundance Guide” (iUniverse, 2012). You’ll be allowance both the environment—your things won’t end up in a landfill—and your basal line.
You’ll accomplish the best money by analogous your appurtenances with the best places to advertise them, whether it’s an bargain house, a assignment store, a website, or a backyard sale. Just accumulate in apperception that the IRS may appetite a cut of your profits. It taxes the gain from the bargain of collectibles as basic gains, about at a bulk of 28 percent.
Under IRS regulations, collectibles accommodate works of art, rugs, antiques, metals (such as gold, silver, and platinum bullion), gems, stamps, and coins. Your accumulation or accident is the aberration amid the basis, usually your acquirement price, and the bargain price. If you end up affairs your appurtenances at a backyard sale, however, it will acceptable be for abundant beneath than you paid for them, so you apparently won’t owe any tax.
You ability appetite to get a accounting assessment from a able adjudicator if you anticipate article you’d like to advertise ability be account a acceptable accord of money—say, $1,000 or more. The after-effects will acquaint how abundant a client ability pay and what and how abundant allowance you should acquire to awning it.
But accounting appraisals can be expensive. Best professionals will allegation $100 to $300 or added an hour to attending over your goods, do some research, and address up a abundant valuation. If you’d like a ballpark figure, you can ask an adjudicator whether he or she can attending the account over and accord you a asperous abstraction of what it ability be worth. Expect to pay for at atomic an hour of his or her time.
The American Society of Appraisers, the Appraisers Association of America, and the All-embracing Society of Appraisers can advice you acquisition local, able professionals through a ZIP-code chase on their websites.
You’re apparently accustomed with acclaimed bargain houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, which advertise accomplished artwork and attenuate antiques for millions of dollars. But there are lots of bounded bargain houses beyond the country that will handle beneath dainty goods.
In the accomplished brace of years, abounding of those spots acquire started simulcasting their affairs online. Live bargain attendees bid adjoin online bidders in absolute time. Expanding the client abject in that way about produces added acquirement for sellers, says Tim Luke, an agent and the admiral of TreasureQuest Appraisement Group in Hobe Sound, Fla., and a above administrator of the collectibles administration at Christie’s in New York.
A bounded agent can accord you an abstraction of what he or she thinks an account you own will advertise for at auction. You can locate an agent and bargain houses in your breadth by beat on the “Find an auctioneer” button on the home folio of the National Auctioneers Association website. The group’s added than 5,000 civic associates allegation attach to its cipher of ethics.
You’ll apparently get the accomplished bulk for a bona fide aged or a collectible in excellent action by affairs it at auction.
Document your stuff. Booty a few photographs of the backing you appetite to bargain and address abundant descriptions that you can allotment with abeyant auctioneers. For example, if you acquire an aged chest, accommodate the appliance maker’s name and the date and bulk paid for it. Be abiding to acknowledgment (and abduction in photos) any apology or repairs.
Attend a few sales. “I consistently beforehand that bodies go to some auctions to see what altered houses specialize in and to see which ones cull in a acceptable crowd,” says Luke. While you’re there, ask the agent how sales are acknowledgment (online, in newspapers, and via e-mail is best) and whether they are advertisement online. Also, acquisition out what the house’s “sell-through” bulk is, which is the percent of sales that are absolutely completed. A acceptable bulk is about 75 to 80 percent, says Luke.
Negotiate fees. In general, you’ll pay a sales agency according to 20 to 50 percent of the bargain price. If your bargain totals beneath than $300, you’re added acceptable to pay that 50 percent; added big-ticket items are answerable lower commissions. But fees are negotiable and about depend on how abundant an agent wants to advertise your goods.
If he won’t budge on commission, he ability be accommodating to pay to backpack and address your items to the bargain abode at no added charge. You should get a arrangement that lists all of your costs, including fees.
Make abiding your items are insured. See whether the bargain abode will awning your accouterments in the accident of loss, theft, or accident while it holds them. If not, analysis to see whether your homeowners allowance will awning them.
Use affluence sparingly. Ask in beforehand about the rules for ambience a assets price, beneath which you will not sell, and get the action in writing. If your account fails to sell, some bargain houses ability allegation you a fee of about 5 to 15 percent of the assets price.
Find out back you’ll get paid. Bargain houses delay until buyers’ payments bright afore they pay sellers. Some will accelerate you a analysis afterwards 30 days, or it ability be 45.
Many food now acquire an online presence, so added shoppers can see your items. There are additionally some assignment food that abide alone online.
Shop owners about appetite top-quality furniture, and some booty alone antiques. Added items, including clothing, antic goods, domiciliary goods, jewelry, and artwork, should additionally be in abundant shape. Clothing, in best cases, should acquire been bought in the accomplished year or two so that it won’t be out of style, says Schneider.
Ask shopkeepers how abundant money you ability make. Best assignment boutique owners see sellers by arrangement only, so alarm first. Show them your appurtenances or photos of them. They will beforehand a affairs price; usually, a store’s cut is 50 percent. Ask whether your item’s bulk will be bargain if it doesn’t advertise aural a assertive time frame. Best shops will about acknowledgment unsold items afterwards 90 days or may accord unsold items to a alms and accord you a receipt. Shops should accord you a accounting arrangement that spells out who is amenable for absent or baseborn goods, the acquittal schedule, and what happens if your appurtenances don’t sell.
Check website agreement carefully. Afore you accord with any website, see what affectionate of cartage it gets, what it will allegation you for its services—including the allotment of the bargain it will keep—whether your items can be alien to it and alternate chargeless if they don’t sell, and who pays credit-card and PayPal processing fees.
Linda’s Stuff, for example, is hosted on eBay, so an all-embracing audience will see your merchandise. It gives consigners 80 percent on artist appurtenances sales of added than $5,000, 75 percent of sales greater than $1,000, and 62 percent for any bottom amount. The armpit will aces up your being free, but you’ll acquire to pay to acquire unsold items alternate to you (or it will accord the items and accelerate you a receipt). If it determines your appurtenances are not accurate (or they can’t be authenticated), it will allegation you $20, additional acknowledgment shipping. But Linda Lightman, the site’s founder, says her aggregation absorbs all PayPal and eBay fees.
Putting up your items on eBay or Amazon will allure millions of abeyant buyers. You’ll allegation some business adeptness to accomplish your offerings angle apart.
One-of-a-kind items, acclaim acclimated antic goods, clothing, electronics, and accepted collectibles advertise best, says Lynn Dralle, who runs TheQueenofAuctions.com, a armpit that helps bodies advertise appurtenances on eBay.
Consider announcement easy-to-ship items on a armpit such as Amazon or eBay. If you acquire heavy, beefy items to sell, try chargeless online advertisement casework such as Craigslist. The ads are disconnected into bounded regions, acceptance buyers to aces up items themselves.
List it right. See what agnate items are activity for on the armpit you choose. On bargain sites such as eBay, analysis the prices items absolutely awash for (the “completed listings”), not the minimum-bid prices.
Get some help. If you’re new to these sites, Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay acquire accessible tutorials acknowledgment the accomplish to affairs on their sites.
Keep descriptions short. Best buyers analysis by title, so accommodate all you allegation there. Accommodate any action info, such as pristine, chipped, or stained.
Investigate the fees. You can about account up to 50 items per ages for bargain on eBay free, for example. You’ll pay a sliding calibration of fees, depending on what the account is and how abundant it sells for, additional a aircraft allegation (its armpit has added details). Amazon accuse 99 cents per bargain additional a sliding calibration of fees if you column beneath than 40 items per month, additional aircraft accuse and a barometer fee (see its armpit for added information).
Although planning and active a backyard bargain booty up a lot of time, you don’t acquire pay anyone a agency on the money you make. But afore you column signs, alarm your town’s government appointment to see whether you are adapted to get a admittance to authority a sale. If you do, it will apparently amount alone a few dollars, but the amount of a accomplished for apathy to get one could clean out your profits. Additionally ask whether there are restrictions on area you can column signs to your sale.
Just about annihilation that’s not adored abundant to put in an auction, assignment shop, or online—including burst items—is fair game. “People about buy things for genitalia at barn sales, abnormally burst electronics,” says Lynda Hammond, columnist of “Garage Bargain Gal’s Adviser to Making Money Off Your Stuff” (Gibbs Smith, 2011).
Don’t bulk anything. Figuring out what to allegation is the best time-consuming and demanding allotment of barn sales, says Hammond. Ask buyers for their best offer; they will about name a bulk that’s college than the one you would acquire suggested. “I had a acquaintance who basic to get rid of a dining allowance table and chairs and was activity to put a $150 bulk tag on it afore I assertive her not to,” says Hammond. “A man at her bargain told her he alone had $400 on him for the set; she was so abashed she talked him bottomward to $300.”
If bodies assume too shy to negotiate, again you can name a price. To get an abstraction of adapted valuation, analysis out Statricks.com. It aggregates appraisement abstracts from online bargain sites such as eBay and classified sites such as Craigslist on hundreds of bags of acclimated products, including baby appliances, bicycles, corpuscle phones, computers and accessories, agreeable instruments, photo and video equipment, antic goods, and video games.
Make abundant directional signs to allure bodies to your abode from above routes. Hammond suggests application signs no bigger than 15×15 inches that artlessly say “Sale” and acquire an arrow pointing the way.
Get the chat out. You can abode chargeless classified ads on websites such as Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, GarageSaleHunter, and YardSaleSearch. Accomplish abiding you acknowledgment the categories of items you’ll be selling. Additionally column advice about your bargain on social-media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Go through your stuff. There’s a acceptable adventitious you’ve abandoned about a $20 bill you slipped into a anorak abridged or keepsakes you buried in drawers.
Start on Thursday or Friday. And alpha early—say, 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.—to ensure that you’ll get the going-to-work and driving-the-kids-to-school crowd. “You’ll acquire few added sales to attempt with, and you’ll get austere shoppers,” Hammond says. You can consistently abide the bargain during the weekend if you acquire items larboard to sell.
Be friendly. Bodies are beneath acceptable to buy from addition who is account a book or talking on the phone, and added acceptable to buy if you accost them and are accessible to acknowledgment questions and negotiate.
Think about security. Accumulate your abode bound during your sale, and accumulate your money and a buzz with you at all times. Bodies accretion affected bills sometimes about-face up at barn sales, so about-face bottomward payments in big bills.
This accommodation timberline will advice you adjudge which area makes the best sense, depending on the blazon of appurtenances you plan to advertise and their condition. First, you’ll appetite to actuate whether you acquire any items that are valuable—say, account $1,000 or more. If you’re not sure, you can attending for agnate altar in advertence books or on websites for collectors. For example, if you anticipate a allotment of appliance ability be a somewhat admired antique, analysis out “Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2014 Bulk Guide” (Krause Publications, 2013). You can additionally acquisition a bulk adviser to added than 900,000 antiques and collectibles at Kovels.com. If you actuate it ability be a admired object, it’s apparently a acceptable abstraction to acquire it appraised.
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