How to Sell Used Furniture

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If you’re moving, redecorating, or simply decluttering, you may be interested in getting rid of some furniture. There is enough demand for used furniture that you can easily sell most items to get back some of your initial investment.

Recently, my family moved and we had a lot of furniture that we didn’t want to take with us. Maybe it would be more accurate to say we couldn’t take some of the furniture with us since we were downsizing and had to get rid of many things.

My wife had sold some things on the Facebook Marketplace in the past (mostly kids’ items) and I had sold some things on Craigslist the last time we moved. Since we needed to get rid of things quickly before the upcoming move, we thought we’d try to list the items online and see what we could sell.

From the time we started listing items, we had about two weeks until we were moving. In total, we sold 21 different items for a total of $1,525 in that two-week span (with the exception of one item that we sold after we moved).

Overall, we were very happy with the results since we needed to get rid of things and we didn’t have a lot of options.

This article covers the details of our experience, as well as some tips for how to sell used furniture.

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What We Sold

Here is a list of the items that we sold and how much we got for each item.

  • Secretary’s Desk – $300
  • Office Desk – $175
  • Set of 3 Bar Stools – $125
  • Old Kitchen Table + 2 chairs – $20
  • Old Desk – $20
  • Patio Furniture Set #1 – $55
  • Patio Furniture Set #2 – $50
  • Patio Furniture Set #3 – $350
  • Papasan Chair and Footrest – $50
  • 8-Foot Decorative Indoor (Real) Tree – $30
  • 6-Foot Decorative Indoor (Real) Tree – $35
  • Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Plant (real) #1 – $15
  • Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Plant (real) #2 – $25
  • Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Plant (real) #3 – $25
  • Outdoor Wood Bench – $10
  • Microfiber Futon – $35
  • Buffet Cabinet $65
  • TV Stand #1 – $50
  • Love Seat – $100
  • Kid’s Table and 2 Chairs – $15
  • 40-Inch Indoor Trampoline – $25

For each sale, the buyer picked up the item at our house. Since we were selling a lot of items, we didn’t have the time to deliver anything or meet people at neutral locations. It would have been more convenient for buyers if we would’ve delivered items or met people somewhere in the middle, so the results might have been a little better if we had been willing to do those things.

The prices also probably could have been better if we had planned ahead and given ourselves more time. Because we were pressed for time, we didn’t have much leverage when it came to pricing or negotiating.

Although we sold the majority of items that we listed, there were a few things that didn’t sell.

  • Wood Bookcase (we asked $175)
  • TV Stand #2 (we asked $45)

We probably could have lowered our price in order to sell these items, but we decided to keep them and use them in our new house rather than sell them for less than we wanted.

How We Sold the Furniture

Almost everything listed above was sold through the Facebook Marketplace. I listed a few items on Craigslist when they weren’t generating much interest on Facebook, but the only items that successfully sold through Craigslist were the secretary’s desk, patio furniture set #1, and patio furniture set #3. However, two of those three items were the #1 and #2 highest-priced items that we sold and they did not generate a lot of interest on Facebook.

Most of the listings on Facebook generated multiple inquiries within the first day, sometimes within the first hour. All of the items that were posted to Craigslist also received interest pretty quickly, but about half of those people were scammers. Fortunately, the scammers were fairly easy to identify because they all had a similar approach. They all asked to pay by cashier’s check and then have movers come pick up the furniture. The first guy told me that he would include the fee for the movers in the check that he sent and then he wanted me to pay the movers. That was an obvious red flag.

Because of the scammers on Craigslist, I definitely preferred selling through Facebook. Although the fact that our two highest-ticket items sold through Craigslist proves that you shouldn’t ignore Craigslist altogether.

Many of the people on Facebook were unreliable (saying they would come to look at something or pick it up, and then not show up or stop responding) but we didn’t experience anything that felt like a scam through Facebook.

→ Related reading: How to Make Money by Selling Your Stuff

Tips for Selling Used Furniture

Based on our experience, here are the things we learned.

1. Get Familiar with the Items and Prices

Probably the hardest part for us was simply knowing what anything was worth. Buying and selling used furniture is not something that we do very often, so we had to do a little bit of research. We searched the Facebook Marketplace in our local area for the items that we wanted to sell so we could see what other people were asking for similar items. That proved to be very helpful and gave us some confidence that we weren’t way off base.

I’d also recommend familiarizing yourself with the specific items that you’re trying to sell. For example, after we already had my old office desk listed for $175 (which seemed like a reasonable price based on initial research) we were cleaning the drawers and noticed the brand name “Thomasville”. I searched for used Thomasville desks and found some that were priced much higher than $175. At that point we had someone coming to pick it up so we stuck with the price of $175, but if we had been more familiar with the item we probably could have listed it for more and included the brand in the listing. To the right person, it might have been worth more than we sold it for. Lesson learned.

While most people, like me, who are looking to get rid of some furniture may not be familiar with the value of items, those who buy and sell regularly will have a much better idea. If you’re looking for a good side hustle, used furniture is one of the easiest things to flip for profit.

2. Take Quality Photos

Whenever you’re selling anything online, photos are very important. When you’re selling used items, people want to be able to see the condition and quality of the item that they’re buying.

Here are a few tips that can help to improve your photos:

  • Clean the item before taking the photo.
  • Photograph in good lighting (natural light is best, if possible).
  • Some items may need multiple photos. Photograph the item from different angles or show it in different states (for example, drawers or doors opened and closed).
  • Pay attention to the background. A clear, uncluttered background is best. Move any junk or other items out of the way so they’re not in the photo.

People who are looking at listings on the Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist won’t expect professional photos, so your photos don’t need to be amazing. But with just a little bit of effort, you can make your listing much more attractive.

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3. Use Keywords in Your Listing

Think about the words that people will be searching for when they are looking for the item that you are selling. Include all of the important keywords in your title or listing to get it the best chance of being found.

You can look at listings of other similar items and make note of the words they are using.

4. Describe the Condition Accurately

The condition of an item is very important to anyone buying used furniture, or anything else that is used. The person buying the item is going to check it before they pay, so it’s best to be upfront in the listing and describe the condition as accurately as possible. If the item has significant flaws, point them out in the listing. Potential buyers will appreciate your honesty, and most buyers are going to understand that used items won’t be perfect.

5. Know the Minimum You Are Willing to Accept

Many buyers are going to offer an amount that is below your list price. It’s helpful if you know what you’re willing to accept before getting into a negotiation. In most cases, you’ll want to list the item a little higher than you’re willing to go, to allow some room for negotiating.

6. Respond to Inquiries Quickly

When someone contacts you about an item that you’re trying to sell, it’s important to respond as soon as possible. Whether they’re asking if you would accept a lower price, looking to schedule a time to get the item, or asking some other question, the sooner you can respond, the better chance you’ll have of making the sale.

If you take a long time to respond, that person may lose interest or buy a similar item somewhere else. Responding quickly also shows that you’re reliable and helps to gain the trust of the buyer.

7. Try Listing in Multiple Places (if Needed)

Most of our items were sold simply by listing in the Facebook Marketplace, but there were a few items that we also listed on Craigslist. Since we were very busy with getting ready to move, we chose to only list the items at one place unless they weren’t selling. However, if we had more time, I think listing items in multiple places could have helped us to get better prices for some of the items.

In addition to the Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, there are several other websites and selling apps that would have been an option. Listing an item in multiple places does take a little more time and requires more organization, but it can be worth it to get a better price. Both of our highest-priced items were listed in two places.

8. Try to Avoid Holding Items for People

Some buyers may ask you to hold an item for them because they say they really want it but can’t come immediately to pick it up. The problem with this is that they can easily change their mind if they haven’t paid you for the item.

I would recommend that you don’t hold items for people (especially if you’re pressed for time like we were) unless they pay you now. We did have one or two buyers who came to pay for an item and then we held it until they could come back with a bigger vehicle to pick it up.

Throughout this process we had several people tell us that they were going to come to see an item, and some insisted that they were very serious and would not flake out, and then they didn’t show up. If we had held items for people and then they bailed on us, we probably would not have had enough time to get everything sold before moving.

When you’re not holding items, it puts more pressure on the buyer to act quickly if they really want something.

9. Don’t Count on People and Have a Backup in Place When Possible

As I’ve mentioned a few times, there were a number of people who said they would come to look at an item and then they never showed up. Some people would cancel, others just stopped communicating. The lesson we learned very quickly is not to count on people until they pay you.

You may get multiple people who are responding to your listings at the same time. It’s a good idea to keep communicating with people even though you have one person who says they’re going to buy an item. That way if the first person doesn’t wind up buying the item, you’ll have other people ready to step in.

I recommend letting people know that there are others who are interested. Hopefully, that will put a little bit of pressure on them to move quickly, plus it won’t be a surprise to them if you wind up selling to someone else.

10. Give Your Items Time to Sell

All of our items, with the exception of one, sold within a two week period of time. We didn’t list everything at the same time, but from start to finish it took two weeks. The one exception was our patio furniture set #3. Like all of the other items, we initially listed it only on the Facebook Marketplace. We received a little bit of interest from a few people, but no one moved forward.

After about a week, we listed it on Craigslist as well. We got a few responses right away, but mostly from scammers. We decided to move the set to our new house rather than dropping the price, but we kept the listing on Craigslist because we still wanted to sell it if someone came along at the right price.

About two weeks after we moved, the set of patio furniture sold for our asking price of $350. The buyer contacted me about 10 days earlier and we exchanged a few emails before he eventually came to see it, and decided to purchase it.

One of the lessons we learned through this experience is that some items just need more time to sell. This especially applies to higher-priced items, and also is applicable when you’re not very flexible with your asking price.

If you’re in a situation where you’re not in a rush, be patient and the right buyer might come along.

 

Selling furniture and other household items can be a great way to declutter and make some extra money at the same time. Fortunately, with the right approach, it’s pretty easy to sell furniture in your local area.

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