How to Sell Your Stuff Online Before You Move

Moving comes with a fair amount of stress, so the last thing you need is extra baggage. Whether you're downsizing your home, moving far enough that shipping is cost-prohibitive or just want a clean slate, there's no reason to drag along hundreds of pounds of stuff that you don't use and won't miss. Moving day is an excellent reason to clear out the things that inevitably accumulates each year.

Key Point Module

  • 1 Make a list of what you have so you know what you can sell.
  • 2 Research prices for similar used items. Condition matters and original sale price may not be anywhere near the current prices. Some market research can help maximize profits.
  • 3 Polish your listing. Great photographs combined with a compelling description help your items sell more quickly.
  • 4 Explore all of your online and local selling options. There are hundreds of potential places to list your extra items. Find the ones that are popular locally and make selling easy for you.

From that coffee mug that looked too cute to leave on the shelf to the ill-fitting sweater you got for Christmas, your extraneous items offer plenty of motivation to trim down when moving. But you don’t need to toss things you don’t want. Instead, you can sell them. What’s trash to you might be exactly what someone else wants. If you start early, you may even make enough from the sale of your extras to fund some new purchases after you get settled in.

Inventory Your Possessions

There’s no way to know what you have to sell until you make a list. Go through everything. Extra dishes, unused school supplies, clothing, furniture — it all has a potential customer somewhere. The better your inventory, the more likely you are to maximize your sales volume. You may not sell everything, but without an inventory, you can’t get started. Some marketplaces are best for one type of item, while other things might sell more quickly somewhere else. Once you know what you have to sell, you can get started.

Do a Little Price Research

A little research on current prices can be very helpful. What you paid for an item likely has little to do with what you can sell it for. Check auction sites and other listings to see what other people are asking. Then, take a look at how long it takes for things to sell. When you’re moving, you may not have the time to wait for the best buyer. If you undercut the market by a bit, your item is likely to be selected first.

For high-value items, consider approaching a physical auction house. You may have an antique or two that’s too fragile to risk shipping. For those things, work with a reputable company to sell them, and don’t worry about the timing. Most auction houses will store the item until the sale date.

Photograph Everything From Every Angle

When listing items yourself, you need to be as transparent as possible. Take pictures of the actual item for sale. Don’t use stock images. Buyers don’t want to know what it looked like when it was new. They want to know what it looks like today. The more photos you take and the clearer the images, the more likely you are to sell your stuff. Highlight any damage. A small stain or scuff may not be a deal-breaker, but if you don’t disclose the damage upfront, you might be stuck dealing with returns.

When taking pictures, try to capture items in a real-world setting. Show a sofa in a living room or a picture hanging on the wall. Don’t take photos of a pile of stuff or in a crowded garage. Not only does this make it difficult to identify the item for sale, but it may also leave buyers thinking that an item is one step away from the junkyard.

Use a single-colored background for smaller items whenever possible. White is often preferable as it shows color well. For example, lay clothes out on a white sheet and take pictures from above. If you have a mannequin, that’s an even better way to display clothing.

Try Multiple Listing Sites

There are many places to sell your gently used items online. For larger pieces, you might want to check out local listings so that you can avoid paying to ship heavy things like furniture. Some options might be Letgo, Nextdoor, OfferUp or 5miles. All of these sites promote selling locally. Each allows you to quickly list items with a few photos and communicate with interested buyers. You can arrange to meet in a public place and make the exchange. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist also let you work with local shoppers. By limiting the distance, shoppers can find items within their reasonable travel distance.

Each of these options has pluses and minuses. Some are easier to use than others. For example, the Facebook Marketplace makes listing easy but promotion is tough. Your item might get buried in a ton of other, similar items. With Letgo and OfferUp, you must download the app to use the selling features, which means you must have a smartphone or tablet.

For smaller items where shipping isn’t a concern, sites like Amazon or eBay might be a good option. Amazon allows you to list used items in their marketplace at a specific price point. The downside is that there’s no real communication with potential customers, so there’s no way to negotiate. eBay has the option to set a price or list an item for auction. You can even accept offers. Listing fees can be high and often depend on the final sale price of the item.

Depending on what you have for sale, you may want to explore niche marketplaces. Sites like BookScouter let you sell used textbooks without the hassle of trying to find a buyer. The site searches several listings and makes an offer based on the average selling price of the item. You ship it to them, and when they receive it, you get paid. For books, CDs, DVDs, tablets or smartphones, Decluttr provides a fast sale option. Again, they make you an offer, you ship the stuff to them for free, they assess it and pay you according to the offer.

For things like clothing, makeup or other beauty products, sites such as Poshmark, The Luxury Closet or Vintag might be your best bet. These online marketplaces let you list your items and a price, but they also allow direct communication for negotiations. Buyers can make you an offer, and you can say yes, make a counter or cut them loose if the starting point is too low.

There are lots of places to sell your stuff. Before you list your items, do some research to see which sites are most popular in your area and which sites focus on the type of products you want to sell.

Sell a Story, Not Just an Item

No matter where you’re selling your item, the story behind it can help it sell more quickly. Your description is the way you sell an item. If you list a table as used with a poor finish or stained, you’re telling people you are selling something damaged. If you list the same table as a DIY project ready for their finishing touches, you’re selling an experience. If you sell a broken smartphone, list it as a treasure trove of parts to keep their current phone up and running. If you’re listing clothing, mention places where they might wear it or accessories that work well with it. By humanizing the listing, you encourage sales. The story is what gets a buyer past the interest phase and on to clicking the buy button.