How to Get Rid of Stuff in Preparation for a Home Sale

Need to unload excess possessions? Here's how to make the highest profit.

Even if you’re only just beginning to think about selling your home, it’s never too early to get a head start on decluttering. Minimizing the amount of stuff taking up space in your house will be important in order to make your house look its best, possibly prepare it for staging by a professional, and of course reduce the volume that you must box up and move to your next abode.

How long this process will take may depend on your relationship to material objects as well as on how badly you need the money that could be earned by selling off items one by one. The sad truth of the matter is that our beloved possessions, once used, often look like junk to others.

Although online sales have become the first possibility that occurs to many people, there’s no need to jump online right away. Local consignment, used book, clothing, and vintage or antique stores can be the most lucrative places to sell your possessions, because they draw in an interested audience who might spot your item, like it, and make an impulse purchase. Or if you are downsizing, talk to an estate sale specialist.

Your next stops might be your local Craigslist (which lets you sell items one by one) and eBay (where you will need to register as a “seller”).

For specialized items, you might want to check out these online possibilities:

  • Etsy.com. Best known as a crafts site, you can also sell vintage clothing, jewelry, and other items here. (The objects must be 20 years or older.)
  • Bookscouter.com. Here, you can enter a book’s ISBN number and learn which online book buyer is paying the most for it. Also look into Half.com (an eBay company), popular for selling used books.
  • Thredup.com. This site lets you order a “Clean Out Bag” which you fill and send back for free, then receive either cash or store credit for the items the company wants to resell. You can choose to have the unwanted clothes either go to charity or come back to you.
  • Motherhoodcloset.com. Mail your used, but “clean, stylish maternity clothes” to this online consignment store, and you’ll receive cash for those items that sell within 120 days.
  • Replacements.com. This is a well-regarded site on which to sell china, stoneware, glassware, silver, stainless, and collectibles.

A garage sale should be the last thing you try. It can be reasonably profitable if your house is well-located, but can also be a huge waste of time – and you’ll already have plenty to do with selling your home and moving into a new one. In fact, your goods might be more valuable as tax deductions, after you donate them to a charitable organization. For this, you will need to calculate their “fair market value” at the time of the donation.

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