Want to downsize? Sell your stuff on eBay

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By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour

imageWe sold our house in 2003 and moved into an RV. First we packed the RV with whatever we needed. When that was done, everything else had to go! We had garage sales, we took load after load to Goodwill, and we used eBay to sell anything we thought had value. I can’t say it was easy – sometimes it was gut-wrenching – but when it was done we were free. Free to go where we wanted and do what we pleased. We didn’t have to spend time any more just taking care of our stuff.

That was a long time ago for us. Our friend Debby recently became a full-time RVer and went through a similar process using eBay. Today, there is also the option of Craigslist, and even Facebook. I could tell when Debby was hard at work downsizing because you’d see Facebook posts of her possessions. How brilliant, I thought, to sell your most treasured possessions to your friends. They may even be familiar with the items, and they already know and trust you — trust is key. Facebook didn’t exist when we started.

Full-time RVing means that Everything you own is with you.

I asked her about how she decided when to use eBay versus the other options and she said it had to do with value and weight. Value I get, but weight? She explained that shipping is a major consideration with eBay items, and you’re more likely to sell items if you offer free shipping. Ahhh, got it. I think I do remember selling a couch using eBay, but I had to list it for buyer to pick up locally. Today, I might use Craigslist instead as it is aimed more at local readers.

If you’re ready to sell some stuff, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube. Who knows? If you get at it you could even decide it’s a great continuing business while you’re on the road.

It’s not easy to get rid of all your stuff, but you’ll feel so light afterwards! You’ll only wonder what took you so long to do it.

Read more from Chris Guld here.

##FT1-18;##RVT945

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TravelingMan
3 months ago

This took us 8 months in good financial times (about 6-7 years ago). With the CoronaVirus, expect it to be harder to get rid of and you will take less with all the unemployment out there.

FIRST – Make sure you can mentally do this? Be strong. Be stable. Be rational. Be ready to get NOTHING for everything you have. IT’S JUST STUFF!!

Downsizing:

1) Give away what you can afford to family and friends. There are things you will want to pass down to them such as heirlooms or pictures or ??. (no money from this)

2) Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook, whatever you can stomach on line and loose privacy or theft. (Your best bet for a return of some kind but chalked full of risk. Met at the Police Station whenever possible).

3) Garage Sale (another chance to get what you can). You’ll need a lot of help to make sure things don’t walk off.

4) Estate Sale (you’ll be giving away 40% to the Estate Sale Co). We did this twice.

5) Auction (you’ll be giving away another 40-50% to the Auctioneer). It took 5 sales to get rid of what they could. Don’t go. You’ll just be upset. Some things might go well. Most will go for nothing.

6) Goodwill, Salvation Army, some Foster Care Centers (they will sell themselves), and Church raffles. (You get nothing but a Tax Receipt that does no good any more and you have to load it and deliver it).

7) Set the rest by the curb. The weekly scrap hound will come by.

8) Set the rest out by the curb for the trashman.

Keep in mind that you can buy all of it back for about 2 months wages if you choose to go back to work. Sure….You spent 2 years wages or more buying it. Forget that. You got your wear and tear out of it. Just be happy with that.

FOR GOSH SAKES!!! DO NOT STORE ANYTHING!!! It will cost you more than buying it back. Borrow space at a family members house if you can. Spread the wealth.

Do all this and you will learn how liberating you will feel! If you live in your RV, you basically have nothing for anyone to steal. It’s wonderful being free of STUFF!!!! Your family will thank you for it when it comes time for your demise. There will be very little for them to have to do.

Steve S.
3 months ago

The biggest cost to being a seller is the cost of shipping. I don’t know how some of these sellers can sell their stuff with free shipping and still make a profit. I used to always offer free shipping until the cost of shipping became so high. Its tough to sell a $10 item when shipping is $5 (just an example) and still make a profit.

Also, if you are selling to get rid of stuff, then price it to SELL. I’ve seen sellers offer used stuff for $5 less than what I could get it for new. Not gonna happen. Unless there is something intrinsically valuable about the age of the item, then at the most 50% of a new item is a good starting point, but be ready to make a deal. Remember, your primary goal is to GET RID OF this stuff.

Craigslist? What a nightmare this has become. There are so many scammers out there that its no longer on my list of sales venues. While there are a lot of good people on Craigslist, the number of people who will bombard you with porn eMails, is outrageous. Before I quit Craigslist entirely, it got to the point where I would not buy or sell anything at either my or their home address. I would arrange for a transfer point in a crowded parking lot near a grocery store.

A final alternative is to give it away to a charitable organization.
Many will pick up and give you a receipt.

Many thrift stores are commercial enterprises.
That is OK, but be aware as to whether or not they are part of a charity or not.

Debby Bradford
3 months ago

I love this, I am the Debby referred to, and the article is about 5 years old. Things have changed a lot and eBay isn’t as easy as it was back then. Today, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are the way to go.

Terri R
3 months ago

Oh the PILE of stuff I have sitting waiting ready to go due to this lovely stay at home time. Sorting & resorting & my living room is half filled with stuff ready to go & just trying to decide how, when, where it should go (as the expected spring yard sale time is now unlikely to occur). Can’t wait til it is GONE!!!!

Daniel Bridger
3 months ago

Just remember, Ebay will take 10% of the total sale price, including shipping charges and PayPal will take another 3%.

Bill T
3 months ago

When my wife and I downsized two years ago, the stuff we decided to sell we kept in mind that we priced it to sell. We have seen over the years that lots of folks were asking way too much for their belief of what they thought it was worth, not for what others were willing to pay. Remember, you are downsizing, no reasonable offer refused.

Kathi Williams
3 years ago

Interesting! I live in a very rural area and have some weird stuff to try to sell. Chinese antiques, rose Canton china bowls and plates, and some Japanese prints. West Coast. All inherited. Suggestions? Thanks…

Martin Brossman
3 years ago
Reply to  Kathi Williams

Yes, use the advanced search on eBay and select ” Sold listings” and put in a brief description of the items you want to sell. This will tell you if items like yours are selling for how much. We cover all this in our eBay class described in this article.

TechiePhil
3 years ago

We’ve been downsizing the last six months, selling on eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook neighborhood and community buy-and-sell groups (not personal FB pages). Most success has been on Facebook and Craigslist. You have to be careful to meet up with buyers in public places, of course.

Martin Brossman
3 years ago
Reply to  TechiePhil

Great comment of all the way to sell items. Thanks for adding the point of safety on Craigslist. I have heard of people being held up by not meeting is a very public place.

Laura P. Schulman
3 years ago

A word to the wise: a number of years ago, eBay went through a radical reorganization. They decided to shift their focus from the small seller of unique items (that is, you and I) to the enormous wholesalers who peddle everything from designer handbags to herbal supplements. The seller fee schedule skyrocketed. Reserve auctions for more valuable items became a deterrent. And there was a big push for “free” shipping (read: factor average shipping into your price), pushing the eBay market into a model where most of your sales come from your eBay Store; you use auctions pretty much as “almost free” advertising, to draw buyers to your store.

I ran an eBay business for many years, starting in the late 1990’s. I watched it transition from a marketplace of individuals selling unique items to a sometimes cheaper source of mass market stuff.

I was a member of an eBay sellers’ club, an offshoot of a failed “eBay sellers course” that cost a lot of money to tell you what the instructional modules on the eBay website tell you for free. These modules, which are largely written by volunteers (“community”) but vetted by eBay, are extremely informative and helpful.

At the time of the eBay Revolution my sellers club was on the fence about what to do. Many of us bailed over to Amazon.

While I find Amazon to be fantastic for books, posters, already-been-watched DVDs, VCR and audiotapes (and audiobooks, very good sellers), and that new holiday stuff you never opened, I still use eBay for larger stuff, musical instruments, art and antiques. I can’t believe how much it costs me sometimes, and packing/shipping can be a big pain in the butt.

Of course if you don’t mind parting with a chunk of your profits you can just drop sold items off at your local packing/shipping place and they will do the honors for you. If you’re even less profit-motivated, you can use eBay’s concierge selling network of people who sell other people’s stuff for a fee. But you still have do deal with the uncertainties of eBay sales.

Unless you really like to dabble in extremely detail-heavy work that can be very entertaining when you’re not answering a thousand irrelevant questions from tire-kickers…I mean prospective buyers….and oh yes, seller success on eBay is largely, if not entirely, dependent on that 5 star rating, I suggest you consider a local auction house.

As my longtime eBay mentor says, “They come with a truck, haul your sh*t away and send you a check. What could be better?”

I did just that last time I moved overseas. I sold the “big ticket stuff” on Amazon or eBay, got rid of the furniture on Craig’s List, and the auction house did the rest.

Also, do not underestimate yard sales. I have made thousands of dollars selling everything from kids’ clothing to a horse and a tractor at my yard sales! My mother brought thinnings from her Hosta Lily bed and we sold them for $4 apiece.

Rey Lavalle
3 years ago

I too used to sell a few things on eBay several years back. I recently tried to sell an antique fire engine siren without success. Ebay billed me $92 for 2- ten day postings. I’m done!

Martin Brossman
3 years ago
Reply to  Rey Lavalle

That makes on sense as all. I’d you look up the going rates before you listed it? I teach eBay currently and build the cost. I can not figure out how you could have incurred that cost??

In 10 year of teaching eBay I have never heard of this before? Did you reach out to eBay?

What is you list if for?

Martin Brossman
3 years ago

Here is the basics, for the home seller of items that are sitting around your house, it is are making them not money this can both help clean out items and make them a little extra money.

1) Look up the item on eBay and see what it is selling for. If it is a real value like a toy truck in found in my parent attic selling for from $600 to $1200. Sell it on eBay.

2) If it is not selling for any value sell it at a yard sale, donate or keep it.

Thank for your commentary but I find people making a little extra money and getting WAY more value in a small town on eBay than a yard sale.

This article is not for becoming a power seller or getting rich quick but giving someone another option to make a few extra dollars on eBay.