Once you get beyond the sentimental value of your belongings, you are still up against the logistics of how to get things out of your nest. Some stuff is easier to pass along to family than other stuff. Options for what’s left over: Sell, donate, or just “get rid of it!”
Start with family. You may have strong emotions about certain items. It may be disappointing, however, to find that your kids don’t feel such attachment to family heirlooms. Generally speaking, the younger generation is not interested in furniture (even antiques), books, china, silverware, crystal, Persian rugs, or embroidered linens. If there’s a special story attached, that may be a hook. For family photographs, ditch the physical albums by digitizing photos and creating online albums.
Selling it yourself. Give yourself plenty of time so you’re not hurriedly making deals at prices you later regret. A yard sale? That’s a lot of work, and you might not sell everything. That said, it can be a fun way to meet the neighbors or say good-bye if you are relocating. Alternatively, put ads on craigslist.org, nextdoor.com, or Facebook Marketplace. Items move more quickly if you provide photos and detailed descriptions. Be prepared for phone calls, appointments, and no-shows. If you have specialty items, consider giving them an even wider buyer audience by enrolling to sell on eBay.com. But you need to be prepared to ship your items. (At the least, eBay is a way to get a sense of the going price.)
Having others sell it. Professional sellers will take a commission of 30% or more, and they may need to reduce prices if your goods aren’t moving. You might opt for an estate sale at your home (items from other households may be included). Auction houses take only specialized items. Consignment shops accept what they think will sell, but they’ll showcase only for a limited time, and then you have to take items back. Liquidators take everything, including the junk. Depending on the value of the good things, you may need to pay them. (For going prices, check out prices4antiques.com for antiques; biblio.com or bookgilt.com for books; replacements.com for specific patterns of china, crystal, and silverware.)
Donating. For big batches, nonprofits such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army will come and pick up. But they might not take everything. (They know what sells and what doesn’t.) Contact local shelters as they often have need of most any household item you want to give away. Ask for receipts so you can take the donation amount off your taxes. You can also post on buynothingproject.org to give away items that would otherwise go to the landfill.
Get help. If this all seems daunting—it is! Consider the assistance of a senior move manager, especially if time is limited. We can help with that.
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