One of the people in our area (henceforth know as RV) in the AFiP group mentioned they were using MaxSold to sell everything in their house. I was intrigued and immediately had a look at their website. It looked intriguing, potentially even the answer to the ancient questions, “how do 2 people in a 4 bedroom house get rid of everything they own without going insane?” (Ok, back then it was a cave, not a house, but still . . .) I asked RV a few questions about how it worked in reality, which he was great about answering. He also told the group real numbers, which is always helpful. We were very excited about this being the answer. But . . . I’m a worrier and we were still in a place of needing to “get value” from our stuff. (I did think I was more past it than it turned out I was, I confess.) A lot of our more valuable things are jewelry and “investment” art. When I looked at auctions and zeroed in on those things I was shocked at how little people were paying for those kinds of items. This bummed us both out, and we started going back on forth.
What really got us worried was that we had generated a pretty tight timeline for getting rid of everything before painting the entire interior and that was only the week before we were going to list the house. Here’s the thing: MaxSold will try to sell anything we ask them to (subject to their policies, of course), but are not responsible for the disposition of anything not sold. That would be up to us. In a worst-case scenario, we could end up having to rent a truck and making multiple runs to the dump mere days before the house gets painted, having paid a fee for the service.**
So we made three decisions. One was to work with an Art Seller to sell our signed art (mostly Mangelsen and a bit of McKnight), another was to find a local jeweler and have my collection appraised. The final decision was to do a kind of test run for selling things on our own.
The garage seemed like a good place to start. We had a variety of items, none were needed, and many were good value we could offer for low prices. We spent a weekend photographing items and making listings on Facebook Marketplace and the Seattle-specific Craigslist. We then spent a week monitoring email and Messenger answering questions and making appointments for people to get the stuff. Out of 25 listings for tools, games, luggage, and various household items, we sold about half. To sell those 12, we had to speak to more than 100 people and made about 30 appointments. The number of people who simply did not show was absurd. In the end we had one absolutely superb buyer (who ended up taking items we were going to sell in the future because she mentioned a need and we could do the transaction) and several great (pleasant, easy) transactions,, and many weird/ odd/ just fine interactions.
It was exhausting. Absolutely not worth it for us to go that route.
With a quick email I was in touch with a rep at MaxSold who went over the two ways to work with them:
- You do much of the work to create “lots”, take pictures, and write up the descriptions.
- You pay them $700 to do that work for you.
Either way, they post the lots online, handle the auction technology (accepting bids and getting payments from buyers), and be onsite for the scheduled pickups by buyers. We chose to have a Move Manager do much of the work for us, feeling that we didn’t know how to best organize the lots. We were able to schedule a date for them to come catalog the items about two weeks after the first contact, and were sent several helpful videos about how to get ready for the cataloging.
Getting ready for the cataloging is a matter of:
- Getting rid — via recycle, landfill, or donation — of as much as possible. This is a crucial step because they do not move furniture or open boxes, and creating lots takes up a lot of room. You need as much clear space as possible.
- Putting like with like. Gather all your lamps, pottery, linens, books, office supplies, tools, whatever, into one place. Your manager may not think its a good idea to make a single lot of them all, but its the best way to start. Think like a buyer and put your stuff in groups with a value of more than $35. I used each shelf of my china cabinet to create a lot for my dish set, another for my collectible figurines, and the third shelf for a collection I put together of some fine crystal, Swarski crystal animals, and a dried flower arrangement.
- Moving all personal items away from things being sold. This is mostly to make it easier for the catalogers. They use tape to mark where a lot is stored (making pick up day easier), so you need to keep your personal stuff separate, especially valuables.
- Cleaning out drawers and shelves. Dresser drawers need to be empty, the catalogers will need pictures of everything about each item — they open drawers, open doors, and take pictures of it all.
Sorting low and high value items. Low value items are best when isolated and grouped together with a high value item or two added in for interest.
- Creating a mindset in which you are OK with all of this stuff leaving your house.
That last point is tough, more so than you might be able to imagine at the outset. We knew for months before that we were selling everything, but in the two weeks between cataloguing and pickup we were irritated, sad, and relieved in turn. What we didn’t think about before the lots were created was that we had to live in the house for a few weeks afterwards. We made it a day, then got a few boxes and put whole lots from the kitchen area into a single box at a time so they’d be easy to locate afterwards. Looking at the things from our life grouped together was a bit of a bummer, memories captured in the tchotckes, pictures . . . even the dishware. It’s true that not all of the emotions that came up were negative — this is where the feeling relieved comment comes into play. But most of us do our best to avoid negative emotions, and cleaning out an entire house is pretty much guaranteed to bring it all right into our lives.
In my next post I’ll tell you how it went. Here’s my tease – it went pretty well. 🙂
[Editor’s (aka husband’s) note: we don’t have an affiliate link with Maxsold. We don’t own stock. We are, in fact, bad business-people, but this is just our story, nothing else.]
*Note that Maxsold is not everywhere, so it may not be the answer for you.
**This is very much about not adding to landfill for us, not making money. A little is getting value, yes, but mostly its about not adding to landfill.