You just got word from the boss that you’re moving in four months. What’s more, you’ll need to look for a smaller home to keep your budget on track. Uh-oh. What do you do with all your stuff?
You’ve just faced a conundrum that’s common to anyone downsizing. Sounds like a yard sale is in your future. If you’ve ever gone to a successful yard sale, you may already have a few ideas in mind for your own.
However, every great yard sale has one thing in common: a good plan. Here are a few strategies to help you sell your extra belongings, collect a decent profit, and fit all the most important items in your new home after the move.
Take the Time to Craft Your Plan
Anyone who’s moving relatively soon has a lot to manage. You have to search for a home in your new area. You need to sell your current place. You have to figure out what you’re going to keep, what you should throw away, and what items are best to sell at your yard sale.
Ideally, you need a few months to plan for a successful yard sale. Of course, if you need to hold the sale soon so you can artfully stage your home for the realtor, you may have less time.
The main thing is to get started and devote some real thought to the process, not just carry out a few boxes of junk to the curb and slap a few price tags on them. Create a step-by-step checklist that you know you can follow. If you don’t want to make one yourself, search online for a printable list.
Also, don’t forget to ask your HOA or landlord for permission and yard-sale guidelines. You may need a permit from your city, as well.
Set Aside a Collection Zone
Allocate a zone in your basement or garage for the items you know you want to sell. If you’re on the fence about any items, do a little research online to find out how similar items are selling on classified boards or auction websites.
To help you decide, browse the following list of items that tend to sell well:
- Working appliances
- Audio-visual items (camcorders, DVD players, and so forth)
- Safe, working baby equipment or furniture (don’t sell it if it’s not up to code)
- Books, LPs, DVDs, and CDs
- Furniture and lamps
- Sheet music and instruments
- Kitchen supplies
- Gardening supplies and tools
- Bicycles and scooters
- Toys and games
- Re-potted plants or seedlings you can’t take with you
- Area rugs
- Sporting equipment
If time is of the essence, you may be able to sell higher-ticket items online before the yard sale. Everything else can wait.
Fix a Fair Price
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably think your stuff is worth more than buyers do. If you’re in doubt, ask a friend who lives in your area to help you decide. Don’t try to influence them first by suggesting your ideal price.
The reason this is helpful is because it distances you emotionally from each item and makes the pricing more objective.
In the end, it’s a good rule of thumb to charge 20-30 percent of the original price. If you purchased a sofa for $400, then, you can probably ask between $80 and $120 for it if it’s still in great shape. Charge less if your item really shows its age.
It’s also a mistake to price your sale items too low, though. You need to leave a little room for bargain hunters to haggle prices with you. If you have a bunch of less-desirable items to sell, consider selling them in a package deal; for example, 20 books for $5 bucks.
Once you’ve decided on prices, keep an inventory book so you know exactly what you have at any time.
Pick a Date, Watch the Weather-or Move It Indoors
If you want to hold your yard sale just before you move in the spring, pay attention to the date. It rarely pays to hold your sale on a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day, for example. Take stock of the weekends when you may have less competition, if possible.
If you’re short on time and need to hold your yard sale earlier in the season, you may want to make an event of it by installing outdoor heaters for the event. Buyers who were deprived of yard sales during the winter months may be anxious to get out there and nab great buys.
If the weather looks too foreboding to hold a traditional yard sale, consider moving yours indoors. If it’s too crowded inside your garage, think about arranging part of your hoard inside your living room.
If you go indoors, recruit friends or family members to keep an eye on your no-entry areas. Also, keep a nearby bathroom available and stocked with supplies so buyers will linger even when nature calls.
Now that you know a few sure-fire strategies for a successful yard sale at any time of year, you’ll be ready for any challenge that lies ahead-even fitting your belongings in a smaller home! Here’s wishing you great yard sale success.