Forget everything you think you know or were told about the items you’re looking to downsize. The resale market for household contents, furniture and collectibles is like any other market, certain things go up in value, certain things go down in value, they don’t just go up - despite what Granny told you. In fact it’s quite the opposite, antiques and collectibles are very much affected by changing tastes and lifestyles and their values rise and fall based on a variety of factors.
Additionally the current trend is not as much about vintage (the fancy word for used) but rather Ikea, where you can furnish a home for half the price and half the perceived ‘hassle’. This and the fact that we are currently paying the price for the Baby Boomers mass consumption of everything over the last 60 years. And guess what? They’re now downsizing and wanting to get rid of most of it. So seriously – where is it all gonna go? Go into this process with a clean slate mentality, an open mind about what the market (and the people in it) are going to tell you.
Despite the downturn in resale there are still things you don’t know have value. Remember those ever changing collector tastes? It can work for or against you - you never know what may bring in $$$.
So stop before you throw too much away and consult a professional. I’ve seen too many well intentioned clients clear out the junk and in so doing throw out collectible items they could have gotten good and easy money for. Remember there are people who earn their living off of garbage picking. No joke.
Research and reconnaissance
Walk into a consignment shop, go to a flea market or attend an auction. This will start to prepare you for what current market values are in your area. This is especially good for larger items like furniture. Important note: and you can expect to get 1/3 to 1/2 of what the lowest price a retailer is willing to take.
Most people miss the biggest opportunity of all in my opinion, to peruse the world’s largest online marketplace (AKA free price database) – eBay! This has been a game changer on so many levels. For smaller items like china, glass, figurines, even books and records this is the place to go, because bottom line whether your buyers are online or not, if they can buy it on eBay for less why would they pay you more? And if you’re asking much less than what it’s selling for on eBay, you also need to know. Important note: make sure to look at sold prices vs active auctions or items that didn’t get any bids at all. For this you’ll need to register, but who cares it’s free and the information and insight it provides is well worth it.
Other good online marketplaces include Craigslist and Kijiji which are like classifieds where local sellers will list the price they are asking.
Choose a professional wisely
Think about what is important to you when it comes to this process of disposing property. For some people its ease and convenience, for others it might be financial – getting the top dollar, while others may have a schedule they need to stick to, perhaps an impending closing date that stuff has to be gone by. Whatever the key objectives are they are going to help determine who and how best is going to work in your situation. Interview a few different outfits, organizers, dealers, auctioneers, estate services, ask for references and make sure they’re going to be able to satisfy your objectives.
Now once you’ve decided on one - stick with it and don’t look back. Getting all twisted and tormented because you didn’t enough for one thing or another serves no purpose. If you’re dealing with a reputable, knowledgeable professional chances are what they may lack on one thing they’ll make up for on another. They’re going to work hard to get you where you need to go so go easy on them and remember there aren’t too many millionaire antique dealers, they work hard for their money!