Yard sales are one of the best ways to clean house! The process helps you organize and eliminate clutter, while also off-loading all that extra stuff laying around that you don't even need anymore.
De-cluttering and organizing is of course the first step. But once you've taken the time to go through each room in your home, any items that aren’t tossed, stored or donated can be sold. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your yard sale:
- Start by getting a permit, if required, and advertising in the local paper. A well advertised sale can make a big difference, as regular sale-goers (who come ready to buy, money in hand) will scan the papers ahead of time. If you have items of high interest, be sure to list them in the ad. Furniture, china, collectibles, pianos or other instruments, and appliances will be worth mentioning to draw buyers. Remember that if you are placing signs around the neighborhood, there are laws to pay attention to. Read up on your local rules before posting anything.
- The early-bird really does get the worm. Garage-salers start early! If you don't start your sale until 10am, you are missing a large crowd of yard sale regulars, primed to buy first thing in the morning. If you advertise and draw the attention of early bird "professional" yard-salers, don't be surprised if you get a knock even before starting time. But the inconvenience will hopefully be well worth it when you make the sale.
- Remember that your goal is to purge clutter, not strike it rich. (Which you won't!) You won't make boat-loads of money, but you'll be paving the way to closing, speeding up the sale, and making your home more attractive, which all could make you more money in the long-run! Try not get hung up on sale prices to the point that you hold on to everything--then no one wins.
- Price to sell. Most items will bring about 10% of their current market value. That means that a $200 gently-used coat will sell for about $20, children’s clothing will go for about $1-$3/ea., and a full set of china (12 settings, excellent condition and no missing pieces) might go for around $75.
- Keep things simple. For smaller items, stick to only a few price points and consider posting a few signs like, "all books .25 cents," or set up a whole table where items are $1.
- Take the time to polish. The nicer your items look, the faster they will sell, and the more money they will bring. Clothes should be laundered, folded and neatly packaged or hung. Items should not be dusty. If something requires batteries, provide them so it works. Don't spend hours prepping items you'll only sell for a few bucks, but give everything a once-over. When you are done, borrow tables if necessary and neatly display all your polished items.
- Draw buyers in. Place some of your more interesting items closest to the street so passersby can see them. Consider placing some "man items" in that prime location as well. Since often times men are driving (while wives are shouting--"Honey, a yard sale!"), a well placed lawn mower or tool set could be just the ticket to get more traffic!
- Set the mood. Play some light music (nothing too loud or heavy). Music tends to put buyers more at ease to peruse without feeling on the spot (especially if they are your only buyer at that moment). Music also allows shopping buddies to discuss items privately without feeling like they have to form a huddle; and relaxed buyers, buy more.
- Be a yard sale queen (or king). Here's a tip we love from the yardsalequeen.com: If you are trying to sell something that is fairly high dollar and it's a popular item that appears in catalogs or sale ads. Cut out the ad with the item in it (with the price showing of course) and tape it to your item. I've seen this done mostly with gently used children's toys and such. It shows the buyer that spending $10 for an item that normally sells for $40 new is a good deal. Be selective if you use this tactic, people will get turned off if you do it for every item you're trying to sell.
- Have enough to sell. Who hasn't driven past a sad, pathetic-looking yard sale and thought to themselves, "Why on earth did they even bother to have a sale?" Don't be that person. If you don't have enough to sell for people to be compelled to stop, it doesn't matter what great items you have. Consider combining your sale with a family member or neighbor (but if you've done your de-cluttering well--you've probably got plenty!)
- Don’t forget your best item of all, your home. Be sure it’s looking great, and have your agent’s cards on hand.