A few years ago, Needwant.com founder Marshall Haas told the story of how a job opportunity forced him to uproot from St. Louis and move 2,300 miles across the continent to British Columbia.
Once he did the math, however, he realized that packing up all of his furniture and hauling it to Canada was the expensive option — more than $4,000 once he factored in all the costs. Haas opted for the cheaper option:
“The plan was to sell all of my furniture, and only ship 4 boxes containing clothes plus a few sentimentals. I would take the rest with me on my motorcycle. The constraints were set.”
After settling into his new home, Haas reported that he was ultimately happy with the decision. He bought new furniture and appliances at the new location; had the chance to give his home a fresh, new look; and still had cash left over from everything he sold back in St. Louis.
Granted, most of us won’t be this drastic the next time we have to move. But when moving day comes earlier than you might prefer, you may need to sell some furniture or appliances for a little quick cash.
So, we’ve put together this strategic guide for selling furniture online. These tips will help you sell your stuff quickly and for top dollar.
Price Your Things Fairly
First things first: Have clear and realistic expectations about how much money you can get for your stuff. Huffington Post editor Brie Dyas, who pulls no punches in her advice to people selling furniture online, reminds readers that new furniture loses its value quickly.
“You know how they say that a new car loses half its value when you drive it off the lot?” Dyas writes. “It’s worse for furniture. Once it’s in your home, you’d be lucky to one day get $20 for the thing. (Unless it is honest-to-God midcentury modern, where well-meaning people will line up to buy it, blog about it and then sell it once they have children, repeating the cycle.)”
OK, maybe your awesome sectional or walnut sleigh bed will command a bit more than $20 on the open market. To get the price just right for used furniture, the team at Money Pantry recommends you do a little market research.
First, find out how popular that particular type of furniture you’re selling is. Give your local Craigslist listings a quick browse, or check higher-end marketplaces if you’re hoping to sell an especially nice piece of furniture. If what you’re selling is in demand, then you can nudge the price upward.
Then, look to see how many similar pieces are for sale. If the market is flooded with black leather loveseats similar to what you’re hoping to sell, it’s going to be hard to stand out without undercutting your competitors on price.
Once you account for the market and the natural depreciation of furniture, you’ll arrive at a much more realistic price (i.e. a price that will let you sell quickly).
Make the Listing Irresistible
As with staging your home, you will want your couch or dining room set to make a good first impression with buyers. Probably the most crucial aspect of this first impression is in your photos.
Blogger Brian Shim argues that lighting makes all the difference. A well-lit photo of a couch taken with an iPhone will look better than a poorly lit photo taken with a professional camera, he says.
So, when taking photos of what you’re trying to sell, do this:
- Position the furniture in a room full of natural daylight.
- Step back and take one or two photos that show how that piece of furniture fits into the room.
- Then, take one or two close-up shots so buyers can see the material up close. Use the close-ups to reveal any defects, too. It’s better to show those now, not when the potential buyer comes to your home.
Once the photos are ready, you’ll want to approach the listing tactically. ToughNickel has an excellent guide to writing Craigslist ads that applies to any online marketplace. Let’s use their three-point approach to writing a furniture listing:
- The headline. Capture the attention of anyone browsing by being as specific as possible about what’s contained in your listing. Don’t write “Couch for sale.” Instead, write “Microfiber 5-piece sectional” or “Tan brown leather sofa.”
- The sub heading. This is the bold text at the top of your listing that lets potential customers know how and when to reach you, and how much time they have to act. A good sub heading might look like this: “Call by Friday if interested: (555) 555-5555.”
- The listing itself. Only now do you get into the text of the listing. The listing should do two things: Give all of the relevant specs of what you’re selling (size dimensions, color, fabric) and mention why you are selling it. The second part is important because potential buyers want to know you’re not trying to pawn useless furniture off on them. Something as simple as, “I love this sectional, but there’s no room for it in my new house,” will do the trick.
These Are the Best Sites and Apps for Selling Furniture Online
There is no shortage of websites and apps out there for selling your used stuff. The problem is the vast majority of these marketplaces flame out after a couple of years. So, even if some of those marketplaces are still up and running, there’s no one there to sell to.
Here are our picks for the most reliable, most active marketplaces for selling and buying furniture online:
- OfferUp — OfferUp is easy to use, and the whole transaction can take place from your phone. This is one of the largest local person-to-person apps for buying and selling things, so people in even the smallest communities are likely to find interested buyers.
- AptDeco — This is an excellent option if you have a particularly stylish piece of furniture you’d like to sell. AptDeco lets you connect with buyers all around the country, and the company has a delivery team that will pick up your furniture on behalf of the buyer. Note that AptDeco’s scope is limited right now: It’s currently available to people who live in NYC, New Jersey and DC; Boston and Philly marketplaces will launch soon.
- Apartment Therapy Marketplace — This is a more robust platform that accommodates antiquers, vintage sellers and independent furniture makers; think of it as an Etsy for cool furniture. If you have some particularly stylish furniture you’d like to sell, however, this is a good place to find buyers.
- Craigslist — The golden oldie, Craigslist has been online for more than 20 years, and it’s not going anywhere. If you want to sell something locally, Craigslist might still be your best bet for finding a buyer.