According to Cari Cucksey, who organizes estate sales on HGTV's Cash & Cari, "The average family has several thousand dollars' worth of stuff lying around." Check out how to find the right market:
If you're looking to unload a bunch of goods that don't have a high intrinsic value, a yard sale is the way to go. Price items at 50 to 75 percent off the store price, and keep everything under $50. "People who go to garage sales are looking for the ultimate bargain," says Cucksey. "Higher-end items I would put online." First find out if your city or town requires a permit to hold a sale. Events are best held on a Saturday, when most people have time to shop. Then advertise like crazy a week ahead. Cucksey recommends taking an ad out in local papers; posting on Facebook and Twitter, as well as free sites like craigslist.org and yardsalesearch.com; and hanging poster-size signs on the street to direct customers to your home.
Put easy-to-ship, brand-name goods (a Sony PlayStation, a Waterford vase) and collectibles (baseball cards, American Girl dolls) on an auction site like eBay, where they'll be seen by millions of potential buyers and probably fetch the highest price. Check current listings to get an idea of what your things might go for. People are more apt to bid if they know exactly what they're buying, so include a detailed description, with measurements, plenty of photos (don't forget close-ups), and info about the item's history and even flaws, says Cucksey.
A free website like craigslist.org or ebayclassifieds.com is ideal for things that are ordinary or bulky, such as an air conditioner you're no longer using or a child's playpen. These buyers expect a good deal, and they're hauling the item away for you, so don't ask for too much—about 25 to 30 percent off the store price. You can go even lower, especially if there's wear and tear, says Cucksey. Post a detailed ad (see "Online Auction," above) and keep safety in mind. "Have someone with you when a potential buyer comes over and conduct the sale outside, if possible," says Cucksey. Not getting many responses? Consider expanding your reach with a paid ad in the local paper.
Don't want to deal with marketing and communicating with customers? Bring your stuff to a consignment shop. These stores typically take good-quality furniture, household items, or clothes (call to inquire about specifics). While you may get more for something on consignment than you would on Craigslist, the store will take a cut—often a 50-50 split with you on the proceeds from the sale. Some may reduce the asking price if the piece doesn't sell after a specified length of time. Anything you plan to consign should be clean and worthy of display, or it may not be accepted, says Cucksey.