Congratulations! You got an instant cash offer on your home from Offerpad. You’ve signed your contract and picked your closing date. Now you’re ready to clear out and move into your beautiful new home. It’s time for a fresh start. Out with the old. In with the new. In other words, time for a garage sale!
Save yourself some time, work and money. Why box up all the boxes in the attic or garage you never unpacked from your last move? Now’s the time to finally unpack them and see what you’ve been able to live without – or can’t really part with quite yet. Either way, we have some tips for clearing out the clutter — and making some money off of it in the process. And even have a little fun along the way!
Whether you do a sale of your own or take part in a community-sponsored event (if the timing’s right), a yard or garage sale is a great way to meet new friends and the neighbors you never knew you had. And make some serious moolah. Which always comes in handy when you’re moving. (Someone has to pay for the pizza and beer to reimburse the friends who help, right?)
So grab some cardboard and markers to make your signs. Here are Offerpad’s Top Tips for a Successful Moving Sale.
Clean out what you don’t need
Dig through your garage, basement, attic, closets, cabinets, and under all the beds. A good rule of thumb is: if you haven’t worn or used it in the last year (or forgot it even existed), put a price tag on it (see below for pricing tips).
Sort and organize your items
Sort items into three piles: Keep, Sell and Trash.
Don’t worry about pricing anything right now. Just focus on sorting and getting organized. Your main goal is to get rid of the junk and keep the stuff you want.
Set a date for your sale
Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings are usually the best times for a garage sale. Big tip: Consider scheduling your sale on the first weekend of the month (lots of people get paid at the end or beginning of the month, so people will have cash to spend).
The earlier the start, the cooler the temperature will be (important if you live in a more temperate region, like we do in Arizona). And don’t forget to check the forecast before you hang up signs around the neighborhood. Rainy days keep buyers away!
Stick with some basic supplies
You can buy simple pricing stickers and blank labels at any dollar or office supply store. Budget-friendly tip: Use a permanent marker and masking tape to make your own price stickers. Set up a separate table (with chair and secure ‘money box’) to cash people out. Consider using a credit card swiper on your smartphone if you decide to accept credit for higher-priced items. Have markers/pens/pencils on hand to write out receipts and change price tags if needed. Stock your checkout area with plastic grocery bags and newspaper to wrap fragile items.
Stage to Sell
Show off any one-of-a-kind items you’re selling. Set them out on blankets, boxes and storage containers, or lay a board over two sturdy boxes. If they’re breakable items, make sure they’re supported on a stable surface.
What Are Your Items Worth?
Name your price
Pricing garage sale items is the hardest part. But here’s the key: Don’t attach sentimental value to your stuff and overprice it. If you need an objective opinion, ask a friend to come over and tell you what they would pay for it.
You can also do a quick search online to check an item’s (or similar item) current value. Keep it realistic by pricing things a quarter or a third of what they would cost brand new. For example, if you price a sweater you bought for $80 at $50, it’s probably not going to sell. But an $80 sweater for $25? Now that’s a sweet deal!
Here are some pricing suggestions to start with:
- Baby/Children’s Clothing: $1 – $3 for gently used/good condition, or less than $1 for well-worn items.
- Adult Clothes: $3 to $5 (more if the item still has tags on it)
- Shoes: $3 – $7
- Coats: $5 – $15
- Jewelry: $.50 cents to $2 (if you think the jewelry is valuable, have it appraised first)
- Books: $1 – $2 for hardcover, or 25 to 50 cents for paperback
- Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, or CDs: $1 – $5 (if collector’s or special anniversary editions)
- Toys and Games: $1 – $3 (depending on pieces/parts included)
- Home Décor: $3 – $5
- Furniture: $10 – $30 (for low-quality furniture; no more than one-third of the price for high-quality pieces. If you’re looking for more, try selling on E-Bay, FB Marketplace, etc.)
Bottom line? How much do you NOT want to take with you when you move? Think about marking down items to ‘Fire sale’ pricing last hour of your garage sale. (Otherwise, be prepared to pack it up to haul to your local Goodwill store. Having a truck and handcart handy will help.)
Make Prices Visible
Make sure your prices are in plain view by using price tags or stickers. If you don’t have time, at least group similarly priced items together with a sign that breaks down the cost. Use colored stickers and hang up a chart that specifies the cost by color, like green stickers are 50 cents, blue stickers are $1, etc. Bigger items call for bigger price tags. Don’t make the buyer search for a tiny sticker on that armoire you’re selling. Make the price ‘tag’ (piece of paper, whatever) big, noticeable and attractive to your customers.
It’s easy to pass up DVDs at $1 a pop. But if you offer them at four for $5? Now you’re talking. Look for ways to make a deal. If it’s the end of the day and you really want to get rid of stuff, let browsers fill up a bag with items for a $5 or $10 flat rate.
Don’t Mark Up Prices so You Can ‘Haggle’
Price your items so they’ll SELL. Period. Garage sale shoppers come with limited cash (literally coins and dollar bills) and will walk away from big prices. They don’t want to negotiate; they want ‘something for nothing,’ or as close as they can get to that. You don’t want to give things away, but avoid haggling by setting a realistic price they won’t walk away from.
How to Advertise Your Garage Sale
Moving sales with higher-ticket items like a house full of furniture might be worth paying for an ad in the local newspaper (or posting in your local church bulletin or Facebook group). If you’re just getting rid of some knick-knacks, common household items, clothes, etc., grab some signs and balloons from the dollar store, add some arrows to them and set them out on the nearest major thoroughfare or intersection to let folks know how to get to your house. Be sure the path is so simple, a first-grader can find it!
Tips for Day of the Yard Sale
Have Small Bills & Change on Hand
You don’t want to lose a sale just because you don’t have any spare change. Go to the bank the day before the sale to make sure you have enough rolls of dimes, quarters and small bills to make change for your customers.
Be Prepared for Early Risers/Arrivals
Professional garage/yard sale buyers come out early! They see your signs and will start wandering up the driveway before you have the first table set up. And they want a deal even before you’re officially ‘open.’ Let them negotiate, but stick to your guns if the price gets too low. You’re not giving your stuff away! (Well, not yet anyway. 😉
Sell with Curb Appeal
If you really want your stuff to sell, you’ve got to make it look nice. Staging, like in Home Goods, is key. Put your more interesting items closer to the street so people know you’re selling more than just t-shirts and old coffee mugs. Keep things organized, clearly priced and easy to sort through.
Before putting things out for sale, clean them off! Fill bicycle tires and basketballs with air. Scrape the mud out of your kid’s old soccer cleats.
If something needs batteries to run, put in some half-used ones so you can show people it works. Have an electrical outlet or power strip nearby and keep an extension cord handy to test out appliances. Put a mirror near clothing and accessories so people can see what they look like in them.
Get Help and Be Safe
We’re not going to lie. Prepping for and holding a successful garage or yard sale takes A LOT of work. You’re going to need help. If you have a teenager, you know it’s hard to get them excited about most things—let alone a garage sale. So, why not cut them in on the profits? Make a deal with your teen: if they gather up their unwanted items to sell, you’ll let them keep whatever cash they make. Younger kids? Let them get involved by manning a lemonade stand or bake sale booth.
Ask some friends to hang out just to keep an eye on things during the sale. Most garage sale enthusiasts are well-meaning people just looking for a good deal. But you’re still letting strangers on your property. Sales can get crowded and overwhelming if it’s just you and maybe one other person hosting it. So it’s a good idea to keep the doors of your house locked during the sale. Don’t let anyone into your house to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Just keep a pitcher of complimentary water outside and point them in the direction of the nearest gas station.
Be on guard when it comes to all that cash, too. Keep the smaller bills in a cash box or on your body with an apron or fanny pack. If someone makes a purchase with a large bill, give it to a family member or friend to take inside for safekeeping.
What to Do with Unsold Items
It never fails. What you think will sell in an instant never does. And all the stuff you think nobody else would want? Gone! So what to do with those higher-dollar items left at the end of the day? Sell them online, post them on your community’s Facebook group, list items on Craigslist or eBay, or share them on apps like Swap, OfferUp, VarageSale and Letgo. Consider selling clothing on places like Poshmark and thredUP. And always include pictures of your items. Be sure you research similar items before you price yours so you can get an accurate idea of what to ask.
And if you still don’t have time or luck selling things online, you can always donate and drop off (or have them picked up) by Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or other local charities.
What to Do with Your Profits
Now comes the fun part (besides the well-deserved soak in the bath tub or hot tub)! After the pizza and beer are gone, save some of your hard-earned sale profits for that special home décor item you’ve had your eye on for the new house. A night on the town in your new town. Or just stash it away for the proverbial rainy day or broken water heater. Following the tips above for a successful garage sale will give you a little extra cash to help you move freely from your former to future home.