So, what are the best ways to downsize your possessions? Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty!  There are MANY options on how to actually dispose/sell/donate the entire contents of a home — collectively or item by item — when you move.   If you have followed our suggestions, Six Easy Steps When You Downsize Your Home,” then your decision on liquidation will be much easier since you’ve done your homework. 

We’ve come a long way from garage sales and flea markets…..we’ll give you the basics on some of your options for letting go of your possessions through various channels:

Auction

When we think of an auction house we tend to think Christie’s or Sotheby’s but there are numerous options, especially in the NY/NJ/CT region.  They focus on higher value goods which are sold to the highest bidder via live auction, and through a growing online presence. There are many local auctioneers that may be interested in specific items or entire contents of a house. Just be certain that they are members of their state and national auctioneers association which require their members to follow a strict code of ethics.  If you have many high-value items especially artwork, fine antiques, and collectibles, auction houses are a good option because they provide: experienced auctioneers and accomplished appraisers as well as extensive marketing efforts.  Downside, of course, is 10-20%, or more seller’s commission. (And you might still be left with some furnishings and household items that were not appropriate for auction which you have to clean-out.)

Online Auctions

This is a great DIY solution for one or two items but very challenging when you have a full-house of goods that you want to sell.  eBay is the most well-known but many other companies are popping up to take advantage of a global market.  Some take specific pieces and have minimum thresholds while others will photograph and catalog entire homes for sale online.  MaxSold is one such company that can monetize an entire home.  Commissions, fees, reserves, and other terms vary so it may not result in the best outcome.  Keep in mind – “boomers” are putting a lot of goods/antiques for sale on-line thus saturating the market and driving prices down.  Benefits of an online auction are broader marketing reach.

Estate Sale

These “tag” sales are held during a condensed one-three day period on location at your house (usually after homeowners have moved out, but not always).  An experienced company organizes and prices your possessions then they market locally to buyers, collectors, and the general public in the area through estate sale listings.  Online photos of the most coveted items entice buyers.  Serious “buyers” line up before a sale opens hoping to score early.  If you’re considering having an Estate Sale, attend one or two sales yourself to become more familiar/comfortable with the process.  Some questions you should ask before hiring a company: What Association are they affiliated with?  Are they appraisers? Do they have liability insurance?  In addition, services vary greatly by company so confirm all details and watch for any loopholes in contracts including removal of unsold items/trash (which could add up to costing you $1,000s). National average is 35% of total take goes to the company.  

Buy-Out/Liquidator

These companies offer you a flat price for specific items, then pack them and remove them from your property. Even though it is a quick and easy way to start clearing out a house, how do you know you’re getting a good price for each item?  In addition, these companies usually offer a clean-out service whereby absolutely everything will be removed from the home including items for donation and trash.  Some families choose this option because they don’t have the time or interest to sort through everything and think there’s probably not a lot of items worth too much.  It is convenient to have an entire house emptied and left “broom clean” (especially if homeowners were pack rats/hoarders).  However, with the “flat” price they give you for your “sellable” items, it usually ends up being only a meager credit towards the total “clean-out” bill.  Friendly reminder to review any contract in detail, and be sure to hire a company that is a member of the American Society of Estate Liquidators.

Consignment Shops

Physical stores and online sites abound.  It’s standard for you to drop off your items for a 30-, 60- or 90-day cycle. To keep the inventory moving, some shops will discount the item (by say, 30%), or you will need to pick it up. You can expect to be charged a 25% to 60% commission, which the shop collects as its profit.  Many shops pick and choose what they will take based on their market.  They may not want Grandma’s old plaid sofa.  Snap a photo and stop by to speak with them about your items.  They can tell you on the spot.

Online Consignment Sale/Sites

They are generally more forgiving but you have to manage the process yourself which can be time-consuming.  In addition to “Craig’s List,” many communities have Facebook pages that you can join with names like “Your Town Consignment” or “Swap” or “On-line Exchange” or “Garage Sale.”  You get the idea.  These sites tend to have rules and the administrators can become quite strict.  Overall, this can be a great way to find new homes for your items without sharing in the proceeds.  Getting the hang of the process is quick and easy but pricing is competitive.  Sellers have to be realistic; not greedy. 

Donation

There are many local donation drop-off sites (Salvation Army; Goodwill, etc) that accept clothing, household items, and small furniture. Check their policies on what they will allow; for example, they may not want toys/games.  Some groups will pick up all items (scheduled in advance) at your home — Vietnam Vets, Lupus Society, Market Street Mission, etc.  Charitable organizations will pass along your discarded goods to those less fortunate.  These non-profits also raise funds through the selling of your unwanted items that are in good condition.  So, it is a win-win situation — your stuff is gone; and you helped a good cause.  Remember to ask for receipts for a tax-deduction.

SO…. TO SUM UP, take the time to educate yourself, research your options, read the “fine print” on any contract, and check (recent) references.  (A Professional Organizer can guide you or manage the process if you don’t have the time or energy.)  If you have a clear understanding of exactly what you have and have categorized your items into value groups, See Blog “How to Assign Value When Downsizing Your Home”  then your decision on liquidation will be easier and in the end, result in a smooth and profitable outcome.  

If you want to learn more feel free to call or email me at Andrea@SmartlyOrganized.com or 917-846-9953. 

It’s the smartest move you’ll ever make…

Certified Professional Organizer® Andrea Walker is passionate about helping her clients. As owner and founder of Smartly Organized, LLC, a professional organizing firm headquartered in New Jersey, Andrea has been helping discerning clients accomplish their organizing goals since 2010. Her attention to detail and high level of service set her apart from her peers. Contact her at 917.846.9953 or andrea@smartlyorganized.com.

A Smartly Organized move is the smartest move you will ever make™.

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