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How To Price Used Furniture for Resale

Laurie Brenner

Selling used furniture is both an art and a skill. Take clues from online auction sites and thrift stores to learn how to set prices and sell used furniture.

Rare or one-of-a-kind items sell for higher prices.

Once you’ve bought new living room, dining room or bedroom furniture, recouping some of your costs by selling your used furniture sounds like a good idea. The trouble comes when you try to figure out a decent price for the furniture. It takes some sleuthing to discover what furniture goes for, as well as some marketing, salesmanship and a willingness to negotiate when you sell used furniture online, or at a garage or yard sale.

Places to Begin

Visit online auction or classified sites and take the time to shop in thrift and consignment stores that sell furniture to get an idea of what items sell for, based on their condition. Common, everyday furniture isn't worth as much as rare, antique or vintage pieces. Set your sights lower with run-of-the-mill furniture; pay particular attention to the item’s condition, its age, how easy it is to ship or transport, and whether or not the same or similar items sell well.

The Price of Depreciation

Depreciation affects a piece’s value based on its original cost, age and use; depreciation takes a toll on used furniture. For example, if you bought a leather couch in 2006 and paid $2,500 for it, and nine years later you want to sell it to make way for a different couch, don’t expect to get anywhere close to that price, even if the couch is in excellent condition. After nine years, the couch is worth 25 to 33 percent of its original value, making it sellable at about $500 to $800. For a quick sale, knock $100 off the price, or include the words or best offer in your advertisement.

Rare, Vintage and Antique Items

Some buyers come out in droves for certain brand name items or designer-created furniture. The difference between these furniture types and others is that rare, vintage or antique items usually appreciate -- go up in value -- rather than depreciate. Antique, rare and vintage buyers want to get a deal, ensure the furniture is made well and has a style that lasts. Consult an antiques appraiser to avoid setting too low of a price, unless you have experience.

Sales Tips

Offer free delivery or shipping as an incentive when the buyer lives nearby. For regular items in excellent condition, set the value from one-third to one-fifth the original selling price. Items that contain hardwoods have greater value than furniture made with pressed wood or medium density fiberboard. Make note of drawer construction in chests and joinery in other pieces. For example, look for dovetailed or similarly crafted joints that indicate a higher quality item. Glued and stapled joints represent furniture of lower quality, which affects how much you can sell it for.

Create clear advertisements: Signs that are too small, ambiguous wording, and lack of clarity in signage and advertisements make it hard to sell at a garage or yard sale. Make signs that are easy to read from far off, simple to follow and clearly indicate the type of sale. Market your items in such a way that draw buyers like bees to honey.

Market to specific buyers: If you're selling kids or nursery furniture, create an ad that attracts young or new parents. If you have modern or contemporary furniture, say so in the advertisement. The idea is to reach the buyers who may be interested in your goods. Newlyweds, college students, new couples or single people just starting out in their first apartment all need furniture and at affordable prices. Be creative in your advertisements.

Merchandise tactics: Take clues from retailers when selling furniture at a garage or yard sale, by creating groupings that draw buyers in, rather than haphazardly placing items around the garage or yard. Offer deals to customers interesting in buying furniture groups, such as a living room or dining room set with a china hutch. Organize furniture and prices to catch the buyer’s eye.

Engage customers online or off by being willing to answer questions or provide more information. In garage and yard sales, talk to people; don’t try to hard sell them -- just be friendly. Be willing to throw in freebies or negotiate prices.