How To Value Your Crap Before You Sell It

We’ve shown you how to kick your clutter habit, but why trash all of those things you don’t need when you could make some money from them? We’ll walk you through how you can realistically appraise your items.

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Clearing clutter gives you room to breathe — and if you do it properly, it puts cash in your bank account. The secret is valuing it accurately.

In 2005, Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian blogger, rose to internet stardom thanks to some savvy appraisal skills and amazing bartering techniques. He started with one red paperclip, and managed to barter item for item until he ended up with a two-story farmhouse. His story is an amazing read. Kyle’s real skill was identifying people who valued his stuff more than he did, and who had something valuable to him. Photo by Katherine Johnson.

Choose & Value What To Sell

You might not have that level of bartering expertise, but anyone can learn to accurately value their items. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Look up the item’s retail value, brand new. Find out how much it would cost you to replace an item you want to dispose of. While you’re searching, pay attention to how easy it is to obtain the item again. If you can’t find the same item, look for reasonable, similar replacements and note how much they cost.
  • Look up the item’s sale value, used. Now look around at sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Trading Postto see how much people are selling the same item for. Make a note of what they’re asking, and what prices auctions close at. Also keep an eye on how many people are selling the item and whether items in poor condition are still selling. These sites will also be your first choices if you decide to sell your item online.
  • Then, determine your selling price. If you see the item widely available new but not available used, you may be able to sell your item easily as long as you price it keenly. If you see the item is difficult to find new but widely available used, you may have a hard time selling unless you’re willing to undercut everyone or the condition of your item is much better than typical. The same is true if an item is easy to find both new and used. However, if your item is difficult to find in any condition but sale prices are healthy, you may have something unusually rare and can set your price accordingly at a higher level. Assess the condition of the item you want to sell, compared to the sale listings you’ve seen, and set your price. Don’t shoot for the “as-new” price unless you know your item is rare

You can follow these steps for virtually anything you want to sell and maximise your returns. There are other factors to consider too: if you’re selling to someone online, you have to account for shipping and insurance. Conversely, people picking an item up from you may try to bargain before taking it off your hands.

From here, your strategy will depend on your chosen sales outlet. If you’re thinking of eBay or another online site, check our guides to crafting your listing and ensuring you don’t get scammed. If you decide on a garage sale, we have a complete guide to those as well. Happy selling and good luck!

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.

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