Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Six Common Ways to Maximize Value and Minimize Expenses


By Dana VanGilder, SOS Property Transition Services

Are you thinking about moving from your three-bedroom home of 20 or more years to a condo? Are your parents planning to move to a retirement community soon and your chest tightens every time you visit at the overwhelming prospect of sorting through all their belongings? Maybe you have plainly accumulated too many things over the years.

The reasons to downsize are numerous, yet the struggles to do so are common. The biggest hurdle for most is how to begin, how to determine what to get rid of and what to keep, and how to get rid of the unwanted belongings.

Let’s focus on six common ways to deal with getting rid of unwanted belongings.

  1. If you have less than 100 unwanted items, consider photographing and posting them for sale on EBay, Craigslist, and local Facebook Swap Sites. The large furniture can be taken to a local consignment furniture store. Understand that listing the items online means having to field phone calls with questions and scheduling appointments with strangers who want to come and look at the items and also having to pack and ship to out-of-town buyers. The consignment shops will not take everything you wish to sell, they often have certain items they will reject simply because they don’t have the floor or storage space. There is also a limit to the number of weeks they will keep the items on the floor and then you either forfeit them or have to arrange to pick up the items that don’t sell.
  2. You can donate all the items to a charity. Sometimes this is the best option, especially if you are expecting to pay capital gains due to the sale of your home. A property appraiser can give you an itemized value for your belongings in writing which can be used to “write off” the donations. Talk with your accountant prior to paying for a property appraisal as you may not need the deductions.
  3. Give your items to family members. Remember, not all family wants to acquire your family heirlooms. Be sure that they want the items before imposing them onto family. Also, sometimes feelings can get hurt, so tread lightly if you have sensitive family members.
  4. Sell the entire contents to an estate liquidator who resells online or at flea markets.
  5. Hold a garage sale or estate tag sale (same thing). This requires time sorting and determining how much to ask for each item. It requires marketing in the paper and online. It also requires time sitting and waiting for the buyers to come over a few days. You will still have lots of things that don’t sell which you will have to transport and give away or throw away.
  6. If you have more than 100 items, it is best to hire a company that specializes in sorting, photographing, and auctioning your items for you online. Online auctions have become more appealing than live auctions to buyers as they can participate in multiple auctions simultaneously without leaving the comfort of their home. Online auctions are netting three to five times the money for household items and collectibles than live auctions at the auction houses.

Dealing with decades of belongings is the most overwhelming aspect regarding the decision to downsize. Get estimates in writing. Investing in a personal property appraisal will give you realistic expectations of value to help you determine the best course of action.

  • If you can’t display your collectibles at your new, downsized home, sell them.
  • If you wouldn’t buy an item you already own today, even at a deep discount, sell it.
  • If you’ve only been holding on to an item because it was a gift, but you never would have purchased it otherwise, sell it.
  • If you haven’t worn something in the last two years, give it away.
  • Ask for help and get a few estimates from professionals in the industry. Most initial site surveys are no cost and can help to give you a basic outline with which to begin.

Remember, they are only things. Your memories associated with them can never be sold! Let the items you don’t need or have room for go to new families who will begin to cherish them as much as you!

Dana VanGilder at SOS Property Transition Service is a Personal Property Appraiser and offers no-cost, on-site evaluations. Take your first step towards downsizing freedom and Call Dana at 563-340-6374 to schedule an evaluation!