I often talk about buying secondhand items on Facebook Marketplace, but I rarely give advice on how to sell your items.
Maybe you scooped up something from a stranger that’s not working in your home. You searched, conversed, drove, found, reconsidered, realized it’s just not working…and now it’s time to re-sell.
Or maybe you’ve accumulated all the fancy things and you must rid your home of some treasures – not to meet your spouse’s request to reduce the hoarding – but to make room for new fancy things.
Come hell or high water, I will find a place for new treasures in this house.
Personally, I don’t enjoy selling items on MP. I’ve found that I encounter a lot of people wasting my time. For example, right now I’m selling this West Elm side table for $50. New, it costs around $120.
So far, I’ve received 23 messages over the last 7 days about this table.
14 of the messages were “is this available?” and never replied when I confirmed that it was available.
2 of the messages were people who were less than verbose and fired off a price that they wanted to pay without even asking if it was available/negotiable. Just “$25.” Rude.
6 of the messages were people expressing interest, saying they would let me know when they could pick up, but never replied when I followed up.
1 person set a day/time and never showed up.
Is the $50 really worth all the hassle and wasted time? To me, no. For higher priced items, yes.
I’d rather spend time scouring the Shop Rite circular for coupons to see how I can save $50 on my next food shopping order.
But I suppose purging your items to make room for new ones helps the world go ’round, so here are some tips based on my own experience for selling your goodies on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay…wherever you do your secondhand shopping.
First thing’s first, here are some common acronyms you may see thrown around. I don’t use these terms, but thought it would be useful to share here in case you want to include in your listing description or when interacting with a potential buyer.
- NIL: next in line
- PM: personal message(i.e. PM” me if interested)
- OBO: or best offer
- PUP: pickup pending
- FIRM: price is not negotiable
.01 // TAKE PHOTOS IN NATURAL SUNLIGHT (NO FLASH OR LIGHTS ON)!
You can’t see the true color/details of something at night or with the flash on, so taking photos in natural sunlight is super important. It’s just clear what you’re selling.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer, just place the item in a well-lit room and take a few photos, making sure you get multiple angles and close-ups of any flaws.
Good photos will help your item sell faster (and you’ll probably get fewer questions/requests for photos from a potential buyer).
I often see people using only stock imagery instead of photos of the actual item in their own home, which drives me nuts. How would a buyer know what it actually looks like/how used it is?! If you can find the link to the original retail item, you can link it in the description so a buyer can view more details.
.02 // DETAILS & DIMENSIONS
If I had a dollar for every “what are the dimensions?” message I sent, I’d be a very wealthy woman.
A few days ago, I messaged a guy about the height of a side table he was selling. He had the length and width, but I wanted to be sure the height wasn’t too tall for our loveseat.
“average height of a side table.”
I get responses like this so often that I made a meme for this outlandish behavior
It will make your life so much easier if you just list the dimensions. Someone is going to come along and ask, and you’re going to have to give it to them anyway.
Provide a detailed description and be honest – don’t mislead anyone. Include any flaws, dings, scratches, tears, etc. in the listing.
If the item is heavy and you can’t help them carry to their car, you should mention that in the description too.
.03 // USE THE CORRECT KEYWORDS
I talk about the importance of using keywords to search items in this post, but if you want your listing to be seen, use the right keywords so others can find it. Put keywords in the description too!
I see items like this listed often and they’re usually described inaccurately:
“beautiful small old couch”
when it should be:
“Vintage (insert brand if you know it) French Country Style floral loveseat”
The key is to be as specific and detailed as possible. Some things to think about when considering keywords:
- What type of item is it? For example – “couch” is too vague. Is it a sofa, a loveseat, settee, or a sectional?
- What style is it? Mid century modern? French country? Traditional? Boho?
- Is it upholstered? If so, what type of fabric?
- Material – Wood? Glass? Cane? Solid brass?
- What’s the brand?
- TIP: if you’re unsure, you may be able to find the brand of an item looking underneath it or checking around/under cushions if it’s a sofa.
The view from underneath my (Baker) coffee table
.04 // HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU LIST SOMETHING FOR?
Well to that I ask…what’s the resale value of your item?
In my opinion, there are 2 types of items that don’t have a high resale value.
- Modern-made items
- i.e. anything from Wayfair, Home Goods, etc.
- Upholstered items (no matter how new)
Often times I’ll see people list “BRAND NEW WEST ELM CHAIRS NEVER USED” for basically the same price they paid for it (you can go online and find out because it’s a retail brand).
I get it, people want to recover the same amount they paid, but here’s my opinion on selling upholstered goods…
Upholstery is like a car.
As soon as you drive a car off the lot, it depreciates in value.
As soon as your ass hits a chair, it depreciates in value.
And even if a seller is being honest and they are in fact right out of the box, no one actually believes that the chairs have never been used no matter how immaculate they are.
I never buy upholstered goods at retail/brand new because:
1. It’s probably made poorly. And if it’s not, it’s definitely out of my price range
2. I know the resale value is terrible
Modern-made furniture is tricky because it also depends on the brand. I often see Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware items sell at high prices and crazy fast, but it really comes down to the item, how desirable it is, and the condition of it.
Here’s an example of a listing with a good description, good photos, and priced a smidge too low. If something like this is in excellent condition and from a brand like Henredon, I’d probably try and get $250 from this (that’s what I’ve seen similar items go for at auction):
But it’s a not-so-desirable color, so maybeeee I’d list for $200 and go from there.
If you have a higher-end, vintage/antique item to sell at a high price (say, over $2,000), I’m not sure Facebook Marketplace is the place to sell it. You can certainly list it for the price you want it for and see if you get any bites, but Chairish, 1stDibs, eBay, or an auction may be best to get the most $ for what it’s worth.
Here are some things I think about when I’m selling my items:
- how much did I pay for it (if purchased new/retail)?
- how used is it? is this in good condition, any major flaws?
- how much do I think this is worth?
- how much are similar items going for?
- if it’s a vintage/antique, I’d see the average price of what similar items are going for on Chairish and start the listing around that
I personally list my items slightly higher knowing that someone will make me an offer. A reasonable offer (to me) is one that is no more than 25% off my asking price and consider offers beyond that a lowball offer. But it doesn’t mean we can’t negotiate and meet somewhere in the middle.
If you’re unsure what price to list it as, start higher. This leads me to my next thought…
.05 // HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD YOU DROP THE PRICE ON SOMETHING & RENEW IN MP?
This depends on how badly you want to sell it. If it’s something you are willing to take less $ for and really just want it out of your house, then consider dropping the price for a quick sale.
But if you’re willing to wait and can deal with the extra space an item is taking up, then I’d personally drop the price 5-10% and renew every 2 weeks or so. Renewing will help bump your item up to the top of the FB MP feed, helping with visibility.
Example – I had six Chippendale dining chairs for sale. I paid $750 for all six of them, and I listed them on FB MP 5 weeks ago for $700. Based on how much these chairs go for on Chairish, I think I paid a fair price but maybe slightly overpaid, hence why I listed for $700.
After 3 weeks, I dropped the price to $650, and I just sold them a few days ago to a woman who paid full price for them. I’m glad I waited for the right buyer rather than drop the price to say, $550 for a quick sale and lose more money.
.06 // WHO DO I SELL IT TO FIRST IF MORE THAN ONE PERSON IS INTERESTED?
This is tricky because everyone has their own way of going about it. Some have told me they sell to the first person who can pick it up, no holds. I personally don’t do this, but it would probably prevent the hassle that I’ve been going through to sell the damn $50 side table.
I go by whoever messages me first. If I reply to them and they take a while to respond, I’ll let them know that I’m moving on to the next person if they don’t reply within the hour. And then I go down the chain until someone eventually commits.
.07 // SOMEONE IS READY TO BUY YOUR ITEM. NOW, WHAT?
This depends on comfortable you are with someone coming to your house, or if you’re not at all. I don’t mind going to pick up an item alone, but I never let anyone come to our house without Angelo being home.
You can meet the buyer in a busy parking lot or police station during the day. Some towns have local meetup spots for things like this.
You can also offer to drive the item to them for a fee and bring someone with you for safety.
Or you can do a porch pickup, which is my personal fav. Since Covid, there’s an option when creating a listing to include this so buyers know you don’t want to interact with them in-person. If someone pays with Venmo/PayPal beforehand, I’ll bring the item outside so they can scoop it up and leave. If it’s a larger item, Angelo or I usually go out to help them carry it to their car.
When it comes to buying and selling, always follow your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.
Phew, that was a long one. If you have any insight or tips on selling, feel free to share below.
Have a great rest of your weekend!